Fernandinho joined Manchester City from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer 2013 for fee of nearly £35 million, signing a four year deal at the time.
His now eight-year spell at the club has been littered with silverware, winning the Premier League twice and the League Cup on three occasions, while also coming out victorious in the Community Shield of 2018.
The Brazilian has become a stalwart in the Manchester City midfield over time, regardless of manager at the club, making around 186 appearances for The Sky Blues and netting eighteen goals during that time.
His Importance to Manchester City
Despite being 33-years-old now, Fernandinho is arguably enjoying his finest season in terms of personal performance and has been much lauded for his impressive displays throughout the 2018/19 campaign.
It appears that the midfielder is ageing as though he were a fine wine, with many being led to believe that the 2017/18 season was the peak of his powers. However, his value in Pep Guardiola’s side is greater than it perhaps ever has been.
When he picked up a thigh injury in the lead up to Christmas, Manchester City were an almost unrecognisable team with a Fernandinho sized gap in the midfield.
Versus Crystal Palace, City went 3-1 down and despite a late Kevin De Bruyne goal to put them within one of their opponents, they never truly looked as though they could win the match from there.
Up next for City was Claude Puel’s Leicester City, again without their number twenty-five in the centre of the field, and again suffering the same consequences as the hosts defeated last year’s champions by two goals to one in a game which saw Fabian Delph sent off.
It is no coincidence that when Fernandinho returned to the starting line-up four days later at Southampton that City looked back to their usual selves, outplaying Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men and taking home maximum points with a 3-1 victory.
Since those two league losses, Manchester City have been beaten only once in nine fixtures, five of which were Premier League matches.
The tough tackling midfielder virtually runs the midfield when he plays, breaking down counter attacks of the opposition and creating the opportunity for an attack for his side, a trait which was perfectly demonstrated against league leader Liverpool in their opening match of 2019. Each time the visitors looked as though they could spark a fluid move forwards, Fernandinho was there to shut down Klopp’s forward line and at times it felt like watching the Reds attackers run into a brick wall.
He has the ability to put a halt to counter-attacks through clever fouls or neat challengers, which are so difficult that most players would receive a booking. Yet, Fernandinho has been red carded only twice in Premier League career at City, with four yellows to his name during this campaign.
Replacing the Irreplaceable
Once in a blue moon a player will join a club and shine brighter than everyone else each and every week, leading fans and pundits to use adjectives such as “unplayable”, “priceless” and “irreplaceable”.
Few players are absolutely unplayable, priceless or irreplaceable due to there being such a wide array of talent around the world, however when using those words to describe Fernandinho, it does not feel like an exaggeration but rather an understatement.
There is nobody else in world football that can tear down an attack, dribble with the ball and play the perfect pass as quickly nor as well as City’s Brazilian.
He can boast statistics of an 88% pass success rate and an 80% tackle success rate, while completing 76% of his dribbles with the ball. Having made a whopping thirty-two interceptions and fifty-seven clearances thus far, nobody comes close to matching his pure quality or even his work rate.
When the time does eventually come for him to hang up his boots or search for a new employer, the board will find themselves tearing their hair out trying to find anybody even within touching distance of the quality that Fernandinho possesses.
Some may argue that Sergio Busquets of Barcelona, Marco Verratti of PSG or Casemiro of Real Madrid could replace him, but the reality is that although they are supremely talented names, none of them would do the job that Fernandinho does to the same standard, particularly in a league as fast paced as the Premier League.
Fernandinho will leave behind an unfillable hole in the Manchester City midfield when he makes his exit, and they will undoubtedly attempt to fill it with piles upon piles of cash, but it will all be in vain.