This summer Manchester City took what many, including myself thought was a huge risk in buying Fernandinho who had played the last eight seasons in Ukraine for £30 million. The signing was not only City’s most expensive of the summer but the third most expensive in club history. This for a player who at 28 has only four caps for his national team and who has never played in a top European league.
We knew when he was signed that Fernandinho was an adept passer from a deep-lying midfield spot and had the athleticism and pace to get forward and join the attack when needed. But the signing indicated the end of Gareth Barry’s Manchester City career after being a regular starter under Roberto Mancini. The thinking among many, myself included was that Barry was safer bet than someone coming from outside the league. In retrospect, this was wrong.
What Fernandinho has ended up being is one of the best high-priced signings in English football. Barry was beginning to decline as evidenced by a particularly shocking performance at Southampton last season and Yaya Toure simply isn’t stout enough defensively. The oft-injured Jack Rodwell has not figured in the first team plans this season and may be shipped off in January or next summer.
But with a back four that has been amazingly poor in away matches, Fernandinho has provided the glue and link play to keep Manchester City afloat in the Premier League season. Fernadinho’s midfield partner Yaya Toure’s impact on the tempo of matches this season has been at times negligible and his defensive work rate has slipped from previous years. Thus the Brazilian’s contributions have been even more important than would have been anticipated over the summer.
The holding midfielder has demonstrated his ability to play balls forward, to cover for defensive breakdowns and to win the ball in midfield. He has proven to be a complete holding midfield player which is why it remains a mystery to most why he has yet to feature for Brazil since moving to City.
At 28 years old, Fernandinho is quite possibly in the prime of his career. Yet strangely A Seleção has not come calling for his services yet. However, if he keeps up this level of performance do not be surprised to see him next summer at the World Cup.