5 Players who could replace Fernandinho at Manchester City

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League
Sai Teja

Manchester City veteran Fernandinho will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most under-appreciated midfielders in the Premier League era.

The Brazilian, who is into his eighth campaign at the Etihad Stadium, has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league since his move from Shakhtar Donetsk. He has played a pivotal role in three Premier League title wins, with a potential fourth on the horizon.

Fernandinho's ability to screen his backline and turn defence into offence with his ability on the ball has made him an indispensable player for Manchester City.

However, with the Cityzens captain set to turn 36 in less than a month, he doesn't have too much left at the highest level. Furthermore, with his contract set to expire in a matter of weeks, it is unclear if the club will extend his stay at the club.

On that note, here are five players Manchester City could target to replace Fernandinho this summer.

#5 Dennis Zakaria | Borussia Monchengladbach

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One

24-year-old Denis Zakaria has been linked with Europe's top clubs for some time now. The Geneva-born midfielder has been mighty impressive for Marco Rose's Borussia Monchengladbach side over the last four years and, with over 100 Bundesliga games under his belt, he has amassed a considerable amount of experience. With Rose set to leave the club, he could be one of many players who could follow the coach out of Borussia Park.

Despite the injury concerns he's faced in recent seasons, Zakaria could prove to be a great option for City as he could complement the other players available at Pep Guardiola's disposal in the middle of the park, such as Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne. Zakaria could also fill in at centre-back if needed.

At 6'2", his athletic frame and physique will add some much-needed presence at the base of midfield. Zakaria is also a talented midfielder on the ball, and has completed 87% of his passes, 82.3% of attempted long balls, and 68.2% of his dribbles this season.

#4 Boubakary Soumare | LOSC Lille

Celtic v LOSC Lille: Group H - UEFA Europa League
Celtic v LOSC Lille: Group H - UEFA Europa League

Another player who could be on the move this summer is LOSC Lille's Boubakary Soumare. The talented Frenchman has been linked with a move to England for some time now, with the likes of Manchester United believed to be interested in his services. However, after arguably one of his best campaigns so far for the Ligue 1 club, Soumare could be on the move this summer.

Soumare is another option for Manchester City to take up Fernandinho's role in midfield. The Paris Saint-Germain academy graduate has excelled at recycling possession in the middle and keeping things ticking for the Ligue 1 leaders. His 6.97 progressive passes per 90 make him one of the best in the league in this regard, and he boasts of the third-highest dribble completion rate (88%) in Ligue 1.

Stylistically, he's one of the most similar players in the market to Fernandinho, and at just 22 years of age, Soumare could get even better in the future.

Also read: 5 Transfers that dramatically changed the fortunes of a club

#3 Joshua Kimmich | Bayern Munich

VfL Wolfsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
VfL Wolfsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

Joshua Kimmich is by far the most high-profile and easily the most difficult player for Manchester City to sign in their search for a Fernandinho replacement. That being said, the German could be one of the best possible names for the job. Kimmich and Pep Guardiola shared an excellent relationship during their time at Bayern Munich, and the Catalan was full of praise for the midfielder.

The Bayern Munich star is arguably one of the most complete midfielders in Europe. This season, Kimmich has registered more passes per 90 (68.8), passes into the final third (160), progressive passes (174), most through balls (11), most assists (ten), passes into the penalty area (50), and key passes per 90 (2.5) than any midfielder in the Bundesliga.

Kimmich's contract runs out in 2023, but reports suggest that both parties are keen to extend his stay. The midfielder is believed to be holding out for a massive increase in wages to represent his rise among Bayern's ranks. Should they be unable to afford Kimmich a massive new deal, a reunion with Guardiola could be on the cards.

#2 Ismael Bennacer | AC Milan

AC Milan v Monza - Pre-Season Friendly
AC Milan v Monza - Pre-Season Friendly

Ismael Bennacer failed to make it at Arsenal's academy back in 2017, but he's continued to grow in stature ever since. The Algerian midfielder left the Gunners for Empoli in Serie B before winning the title and earning himself a €16m move to AC Milan. Bennacer hasn't looked back ever since, and is currently one of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe.

Bennacer broke onto the scene at the highest level in 2019 when he was awarded the player of the tournament at the African Cup of Nations after playing a crucial role in Algeria's title win. Playing at the base of midfield, Bennacer is a gifted dribbler and is capable of winning the ball back.

No midfielder or forward boasts of a batter dribble completion rate than Bennacer's 88%, while he has also had 5.70 successful pressures per 90 in Serie A this season with just under 70 passes per 90. Bennacer is a great long-term option as well, given that he's only 23.

#1 Manuel Locatelli | Sassuolo

US Sassuolo v Benevento Calcio - Serie A
US Sassuolo v Benevento Calcio - Serie A

By all accounts, Manuel Locatelli is perhaps the most well-equipped player to replace Fernandinho at the heart of Manchester City's midfield. The Italian midfielder has had an excellent season for Sassuolo so far, garnering interest from the likes of City and Juventus. The 23-year-old combines excellent defensive awareness and ability on the ball to carry out the role of a regista to perfection.

Locatelli has played more passes into the final third and registered more touches than any Serie A player this season (216 and 2538 respectively), with only four midfielders winning more tackles than the 23-year-old's 43. His 77.9 passes per 90 is the highest for any midfielder as well, with an 87.8% completion rate to boot.

The Neroverdi star stirred speculation regarding his long-term future in Italy by claiming that playing abroad is 'an option' for him. It remains to be seen if he does move away from Serie A or not, but on the face of it, Locatelli would be an ideal replacement for Fernandinho.

Also read: 5 Great footballers who played for multiple national teams

Edited by Sai Teja
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