Fernandinho: Manchester City's unsung hero
Manchester City have written their names into the history books by becoming the first team in England to achieve a domestic treble. They have a star-studded squad with players such as Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Bernado Silva being talented enough to play in any team in the world. While these players might be gaining the spotlight every single week, there are some players whose importance has often been under-appreciated.
One such player is Fernandinho. The Brazilian has arguably been Guardiola's most important player for the past 2 seasons. So, what makes Fernandinho so important for Manchester City?
Guardiola mainly operates in a 4-3-3 formation, with a holding midfielder. It is Fernandinho who occupies that holding midfield role. The 34-year-old veteran is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. His ability to break up opposition play is incredible. He has an eye for a tackle and can turn any opponent attack into a Manchester City counter-attack by winning the ball in midfield. It is no surprise that he has won 75% of his tackles in the Premier League.
His statistics clearly show why he is so important to Manchester City. He has been in 322 duels this entire season, and has managed a duel win percentage of 55%, which is the highest out of all Manchester City midfielders. He is also extremely god in the air. Even though he has a height of 5ft 10 in, he has won 54% of his aerial duels, which is once again the highest amongst City midfielders.
Being at the base of midfield, it is his defensive duties that make him so intergral to the City squad. He has managed to get an incredible 69 clearences and 41 interceptions in his 29 games in the Premier League season, averaging in about 2.3 clearances a game and 1.4 interceptions a game. It goes without saying that he tops the charts in this category too, when compared with other City midfielders.
He also has incredible ball control, and it is very hard to get him off the ball. He gets disposessed just 0.5 times a game. Thats just once every 2 matches! In a Manchester City side that is known for its attacking football, it is easy to overlook the 'dirty' work that is done by a player such as Fernandinho.
He is also extremely important for City in terms of attack, as he has an amazing eye for a pass. His ability to find an attacker and deliver an accurate pass from the center of the pitch is truly remarkable. He attempts an average of 2.7 long balls per match, and has a chance creation stat of 0.8 per game, both of which are very commendable considering he operates in the defensive midfield role.
He is also one of the most hardworking players on the pitch. He has been an integral part of the City squad this season, playing a total of 42 games in all competitions. But, playing such a number of games for a 34-year-old can be very hectic, and it shows as Fernandinho has suffered a few injuries this season.
His absence can also be clearly felt at City, as they lost 2 games against Leicester City and Crystal Palace in quick succession back in December when Fernandinho was out injured. Guardiola has praised the player on many occasions and has also recognized the role he plays in the team. It is no wonder that City is already looking at players who can potentially replace Fernandinho.
Guardiola has tried to play Gundogan in Fernandinho's position a few times this season, but the German is clearly uncomfortable in that position. Manchester City tried to sign Jorginio last summer from Napoli, only for Chelsea to come and sneak him away to Stamford Bridge, right underneath City's nose.
A replacement for the deep-lying playmaker is thought to be a priority signing for the Manchester club this season, with the club lining up a few players as potential signings. The player they are most heavily linked with his Rodri from Atletico Madrid for an estimated fee of around 70 million euros. Another player that City have been linked with is Lyon sensation Tanguy Ndombele. But if they want to get the French sensation out of Lyon, they would have to offer at least 50 million euros for a deal to be even considered.
If they want to replace Fernandinho this summer, they have no choice but to spend the big bucks. Even though they won the Premier League by tallying a massive 98 points, it was just 1 above what Liverpool got. It is likely that Liverpool will strengthen this season as well, and if Manchester City wants to compete for the league again, it is vital that they find a replacement for the 34-year-old veteran Fernandinho as quickly as possible.