Fernandinho made his return to action against Fulham on Saturday lunchtime and what perfect timing for Manchester City ahead of an intense run of fixtures in April. The Brazilian enforcer has been sidelined since the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea and his presence has been sorely missed.
Much has been made of the lack of reliable alternatives in the incredibly complicated midfield anchor role plays at City, and with the summer transfer window just months away Football FanCast writers have been discussing who Pep Guardiola should target to both ease the short term burden on his shoulders and eventually replace him in the starting XI.
Plenty of names have been touted in the media in recent months, and it seems our writers are divided on this one…
“I think Declan Rice can certainly play that role well. He is only 20 and so has plenty of room for growth – he is surely the next logical replacement now that Frenkie De Jong has agreed to join Barcelona. The West Ham man is very different in style to the aforementioned Dutchman, but is far more physical and his passing game is surprisingly solid. If Pep Guardiola can teach him the dark arts which have made Fernandinho such a lynchpin in the side then Rice will be a great buy.”
“For me it’s Tanguy Ndombele. The Lyon midfielder has it all and would be a better signing than Declan Rice. Not only does he have the strength and defensive abilities to play a defensively-minded role, but he is also an improvement on Fernandinho when it comes to distributing the ball because of the technical qualities he possesses. If Pep Guardiola wants a defensive midfielder who can dominate at the Etihad for years to come, he needs to open up the chequebook for the 22-year-old.”
“Manchester City need someone strong in the tackle, extremely fit and also someone who is a composed, effective passer of the ball. For me, the Citizens’ dream Fernandinho replacement should be Declan Rice, a man 13 years younger than the Brazilian midfielder and a player who has an enormous ceiling for improvement – what is scary is that the England international is already one hell of a player. He will cost a fair bit, but he will also help improve the reigning Premier League champions’ homegrown quota.”
“Lucas Torreira. Bit out of left-field this one, but linked names like Saul Niguez and Tanguy Ndombele would be a massive risk for Pep Guardiola, because no matter how well they perform in other leagues there is no guarantee it translates to the Premier League. Torreira meanwhile has excelled in his debut season with Arsenal, and from passing to tackling his stats right across the board are almost identical to Fernandinho’s. The Gunners won’t want to lose him, but they didn’t want to lose Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri or Bacary Sagna either. The champions should test Arsenal’s resolve with a big bid this summer.”