Fernandinho was probably the Manchester City player most talked about last season. And that for a very good reason. At some point, the Brazilian seemed indispensable to manager Pep Guardiola. That’s a big deal when one considers the fact that the City team was widely seen as one with so much depth no player was irreplaceable. If the manager took out any player, there was a like-for-like replacement waiting to take his place.
Such was the situation with Leroy Sane, John Stones, Kyle Walker and even Kevin De Bruyne. Oleksandr Zinchenko came in for the injury ravaged Benjamin Mendy and the Ukrainian won the admiration of both manager and fans for his displays. Unfortunately, the same was not true for Fernandinho’s position. The former Shakhtar Donetsk man was in a world of his own. Whenever he was not on the pitch, his absence was felt.
Of course, the team soldiered on without him when he was not available due to injury and emerged champions on several fronts. But there were several difficult times that could have been preventable if he was on the pitch. Although his absence against Crystal Palace which contributed to City first loss of the campaign in the league last term did not cost the team the Premier League title in the end, missing out of the Champions League return leg against Tottenham surely cost the team European success.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men scored three goals on the night that guaranteed progression on away goals rule. A fit Fernandinho on the pitch would have helped stop Spurs’ onslaught on the City defence. From then on, he battled fitness issues until the end of the season. But he was expected to fully recover this summer.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Away on international duty with Brazil at Copa America, he got injured again. He played no part in the tournament from the quarter final stage as Brazil went on to lift the trophy on Sunday. Frequently getting injured these days, has the 34-year-old reached the end of the road with City. Like David Silva, is it time for Fernandinho to say goodbye?
Having already signed his replacement, Man City has prepared for the Brazilian’s imminent departure. At 34, very few players can perform at the top level, much less in a club like Manchester City with a fast-paced Guardiola style. Rodrigo comes in as the man to help the Cityzens get to the next level. The Champions League remains the next frontier to be conquered.
With rumours now emerging that the club is set to offer the Brazilian a new contract, he has a big decision to make. Both Vincent Kompany and Silva had deals on the table before choosing the time to exit. Fernandinho would do well to leave when the ovation is loudest. Another good season with the club where he will help the new man settle in should be enough.