In a side that includes the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Yaya Toure, it’s easy to lose sight of the rest of the Manchester City team.
Despite this vast array of world-class players on show, Pep Guardiola has a plucky and underrated Brazilian at his disposal that, arguably, has been one of City’s integral players this season.
Step forward Fernandinho, the 31-year-old defensive midfielder who City signed for £34 million from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk back in the summer of 2013.
For a few years now Fernandinho has gone slightly under the radar due to the nature of City’s attacking outlets, but once again he showed last night just how much of a classy and experienced player he is on the field – despite being played completely out of position by manager Guardiola.
The Brazilian played almost an hour of his side’s 2-0 victory over Bournemouth at left-back – a slightly peculiar choice from Guardiola – but he more than held his own.
Although guilty of jumping in to tackles too often, he still managed to create two chances during the match; more than Yaya Toure and Kevin de Bruyne combined, which is no mean feat.
He also added some much-needed calmness and composure to a City defence that has been ropey at times this Premier League campaign, ending the match with a pass accuracy of 84%, and he showcased his natural ability to read the game by making two interceptions and five clearances.
His ability to adapt to being played out of position was nothing short of remarkable, and he went about his business quietly, dealing extremely well with Bournemouth’s second-half attacks.
This has been the story of his season, however, and he certainly does go about his business quietly – but it sure is noticeable when the 31-year-old is absent from the side.
Fernandinho is incredibly strong for a player of his size and stature, and his ability to distribute the ball to the wide options of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane has proved highly efficient this season.
The Brazilian has also created twice as many chances as defensive midfield partner Yaya Toure going forward in the Premier League (20), and has proved that he’s equally as capable on the ball as he is off it.
His only weakness that’s been exposed this season is his discipline, as two red cards has seen him miss six matches in City’s Premier League season – but he seems to have ironed this out since Christmas.
Manchester City win percentage in the Premier League this season:
With Fernandinho = 70%
Without Fernandinho = 40%
Key man. ? pic.twitter.com/ORgqsJBC6f
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 14, 2017
With all of this in mind, it comes as no surprised that Manchester City perform better when the Brazilian is in the side; this season alone, City had won 70% of matches with him, compared to only 40% without him. Over the festive period, Fernandinho was absent from the humiliating loss to Everton at Goodison Park as well as the draw against Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium in January.
It’s almost undeniable that Fernandinho is in the top five best defensive midfielders in the Premier League right now, and Pep Guardiola certainly owes him a debt of gratitude for his form this season.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Vincent Cole.