Call him Mr. Dependable. A solid rock in the team. Captain. Leader and friend. Fernandinho is wearing all the caps, and they fit perfectly.
Crowned Man of the Match in the Champions League last-16 encounter with Sporting CP as Manchester City booked a place in the quarter final, his performance was a reminder of the fact that he is not done at the highest level despite his age.
He bossed the midfield and was central to the team’s play. Ordinarily, City should walk away with another win. But after putting five goals past Sporting in the first leg, it is understandable that Pep Guardiola would use some of his youth players this time around, which in turn reduced the quality in the team.
Nevertheless, Fernandinho used the opportunity to show just why he is still a top player. It was a match in which he marked his 100th appearance in the Champions League.
Having featured for Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester City in the competition, the 36-year-old became the 44th player to make 100 appearances in Europe’s elite competition.
The Brazilian remains very popular in the dressing room and provides needed guidance to the younger players and youngsters stepping up into the senior team.
Guardiola finds his contributions valuable and after last weekend’s FA Cup game against Peterborough, gave his take about the player in response to contract extension questions. Recall that Fernandinho signed a year’s extension to his deal which expires in the next two to three months.
The manager said he would like him to extend, but said the matter is in the club’s hands.
“I would love it if he stays, he’s an incredible captain. Now I have the feeling he is getting better, the conditions at Peterborough were so difficult. Freezing cold, the minutes ... chapeau. At the end of the season, Txiki and the club have to decide.”
The player himself was asked about the issue after the UCL game. He just smiled and said: “Who knows? God knows,” before walking away at the end of the interview.
Apparently, unlike the case with David Silva and Vincent Kompany who made up their minds to leave when they left, Fernandinho has not made a decision to leave. His answer in particular leaves the door open to stay for another year at the Etihad Stadium.
In a recent interview, goalkeeper Ederson also extolled his virtues, making a case for why it would be good to keep him. He should know him quite well having played together for both club and country.
“I wouldn’t say a coach, he’s got very strong leadership within the squad. He’s a very important and experienced player,” said Ederson.
“He’s been at City the longest. He’s more than a captain, he guides the young players and supports the more experienced players. He helps us a lot in our day to day work. We know how important he is in the squad, he is a fundamental figure for our team and that reflects upon the eight years he’s been here at City. He’s in his ninth year and I hope he can continue doing this work.
“I don’t know what his intentions are but I think the club is doing everything possible for him to remain here because they know how important he is. He guides and advises experienced players. During a game when the team is winning some players may be relaxed and that’s what he talks about a lot. You have to be focused and always looking for another goal. That’s why he has this role of leadership in this team.”
It does seem that whether he stays for another year or leaves will depend more on if the club hierarchy wants to keep him.
However, going by the way they have related with Guardiola during his time at City, the fact that he still wants the player around could be key. That means they will likely yield to his desire and offer the club’s captain another one-year deal.