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Man City plot transfer of Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli as long-term Fernandinho heir

According to The Telegraph, Manchester City have set their sights on signing Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli this summer as the long-term successor to Fernandinho.

The Sky Blues are set to retain Fernandinho into a ninth season with the Brazilian expected to extend his contract by a further year, having otherwise been free to leave the Etihad Stadium when his terms expire in June.

Fernandinho will reject approaches from clubs in South America and Europe to stay with Pep Guardiola’s outfit, as the 36-year-old firmly believes he has more years in him at the top level which left the midfielder torn over his future in England.

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City remain keen to secure a long-term replacement regardless of Fernandinho staying for another year, but are unlikely to activate a buy-back clause for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz with Locatelli instead among an array of options under consideration.

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Locatelli recently admitted to Corriere Dello Sport that he is unsure over his future with Sassuolo, noting: “I am grown up and ready for a big one. Playing abroad is an option for me and at the moment I’m not precluding anything.”

The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to Spain with Mundo Deportivo citing Barcelona as a potential destination, while Goal touted Juventus as intensifying their position against interest from several teams across Europe in April.

Sassuolo value Locatelli in the region of €40million (£34.4m) but would be open to accepting payment spread over a number of years (Goal), given the current financial outlook having been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

TBR’s view:

Fernandinho has been a great servant for Man City over the years but it is time for Guardiola to begin targeting a long-term successor, given the Brazilian recently turned 36 and would be among the oldest outfield players in the Premier League next season.

The midfielder can still perform at a high level with Guardiola waxing lyrical over his ‘exceptional’ displays this season (mancity.com), and praising the way that Fernandinho is composed both on and off the pitch.

Locatelli could be expected to fill those enormous shoes when the time comes having operated in a deep-lying role so magnificently in Italy, where he is composed in pulling the strings and opening up the pitch by spreading passes for Sassuolo’s forwards to meet.

It remains to be seen if Locatelli would be willing to accept a move to the Etihad Stadium with interest from Juventus and Barcelona on his radar, but Man City are putting the right foot forward by assessing a swoop ahead of the summer market.

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