Rodrigo on Spain's parallel Covid-19 bubble, the Euros and Leeds United team-mate Kalvin Phillips
Rodrigo has returned to Leeds United after a 'strange' summer determined to try and better his first Premier League season at Elland Road.
The Whites opened the doors of their pre-season testing programme to the YEP yesterday, at Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Sport, where Rodrigo was one of 24 players undergoing a series of assessments and examinations.
Leeds’ record transfer ended the 2020/21 campaign in style and although his late flourish of four goals and an assist in the final four games were not enough to secure a spot in Spain’s Euro 2020 squad, he became embroiled in a complex national team issue.
Positive Covid-19 tests in Luis Enrique’s camp led to the creation of a ‘parallel bubble’ in which Rodrigo and others who missed out on selection for the tournament were summoned to train under Enrique’s guidance, as a contingency.
After a bizarre pandemic-hit year, Rodrigo was eventually able to enjoy some normality this summer.
“I’m good, I’m excited for the new season,” he said.
“My summer was a little bit strange because I had that situation with the national team.
“I enjoyed being with my family and seeing my friends. Last season with this Covid problem no-one could come here to see me. I rested, trained with the national team and with the programme our fitness coach sent to us.”
Having to curtail his holiday in order to put national side before self, only to be thanked but ultimately not taken to the Euros must have stung the former Valencia man, but he still took the week with Enrique as a positive experience.
“We didn’t train with the team because of course we were separated in case someone else tested positive,” he said.
“It was nice to see everyone before the tournament, they were all really excited. It was a good week. I lost a week of holidays but it was a good week anyway.”
Since his role as a potential emergency call up for Spain ended, he's taken up the role of a supporter along with the rest of his countrymen watching the Euros. He evidently has a soft spot for one other team left in the tournament too.
"I watch every Spain game, I think we're doing really well and I hope we can get to the final," he said.
"I expected them to do well, Spain has a really good team. We know that in this kind of tournament anything can happen, especially in this final part, as we saw with France against Switzerland and other great teams now back home.
"I know England is doing well. Kalvin is playing really well, I'm really happy for him. I texted him yesterday to congratulate him about the tournament and of course the win against Germany, a big win for England."
And now, refreshed from a break albeit having worked through some injury-prevention sessions and running drills as part of his Leeds summer homework, Rodrigo is ready for another crack at the Premier League.
“Every year is a new year, a new opportunity to make good things happen,” he said.
“Last season was a great season for all of us and I’m sure everyone is excited and looking forward to doing even better this year.”