After spending handsomely to rebuild the Manchester City squad in the last two campaigns, Pep Guardiola still finds himself lacking in a key area of his team. The absence of a like for like replacement for Fernandinho has been the subject of discussions in many quarters recently.
This has been heightened by the back-to-back losses incurred in December when the Brazilian missed two games. Understandably, there have been numerous speculations in the transfer window concerning the ideal signing to replace the ageing defensive midfielder.
Consequently, City has agreed a deal to sign young Croatian midfielder Ante Palaversa from Hajduk Split from the Croatian top flight in the last few days. The biggest question is now whether or not the Croatia under-19 captain is the heir to the influential Brazilian’s throne in the City midfield.
According to Sky Italia, City secured the player for €8 million (£7.1 million) but loaned him back to the club to continue his development with the side. The promising midfielder has made significant progress since stepping up to the first team last summer.
Imbued with several qualities such as being technically gifted and an excellent passer of the ball. He is also physically strong on the ball and knows when to stay behind and when to join in attack. His ability to read the game is one of the many qualities he shares with Fernandinho.
At just 18, he is now a key member of Hajduk’s first team and is very highly rated both at home and abroad. Guardiola is said to be an admirer of the player but it remains to be seen if he would be brought in to join City’s first team in the summer. Given his age however, it is unlikely that the club will end the pursuit of a ready made player to provide immediate cover for Fernandinho who turns 34 in the summer.
All the same, signing Palaversa is a step in the right direction. If the young Croat lives up to the billing, he can become a vital asset for the club in future. Signing him at such a young age means he can be groomed to become the mainstay of City’s defensive midfield down the road.