When Manchester City signed 28 year old Brazilian Fernandinho from Shaktar in the summer for around £30m a few eyebrows were raised. However, the powerful midfielder is doing a lot to prove his critics wrong.
Fernandinho has started 20 of City’s 23 Premier League games, he’s made himself a regular under Manuel Pellegrini. Playing in central midfield alongside Yaya Toure, City have managed to make the unfashionable 4-4-2 system work. That’s in part due to the power and strength that the two players possess, despite playing against 3 central players most weeks City rarely look overrun in the centre of the park.
Fernandinho is more defensive than Toure, but he’s certainly not a defensive midfielder, that’s shown by the 3 goals that he’s scored and the 3 assists he’s provided too. He’s not afraid to get forward. However, defensively he is very strong, making an average of 3.3 tackles per game, only Zabaleta has made more in the City squad and 2.4 interceptions per game, the highest of any City player.
His defensive work has certainly freed Toure of that burden and allowed him to get forward. Yaya Toure has been a revelation this season, scoring 12 goals in the Premier League, already more than he’s scored in his last 3 seasons at City. When compared to Gareth Barry, who is having an excellent season at Everton, Fernandinho looks like a breath of fresh air and more of a natural partner for Toure.
They complement each other’s style well and seem to have built up a good understanding of each other. It’s one of the more powerful midfields the Premier League has seen in recent years, one where both players are good going forward and defensively. Following Makele’s arrival there was a shift towards definition of midfielders as attacking or defensive, but City have two out and out box to box midfielders, and that’s much harder to keep quiet as an opponent.
Fernandinho will be hoping that his performances will have caught the eye of Brazil manager Phil Scolari, with Liverpool’s Lucas injured, the position is certainly up for grabs. He’ll have to compete with Chelsea’s Ramires for the role, but at the moment Fernandinho is edging it defensively. Ramires is making a fewer number of tackles (3.2) per game but less interceptions. In an attacking sense Fernandinho has offered more as well, Ramires has scored just once this season and provided 2 assists. When you consider that the Brazil team is going to be attack focused Fernandinho looks to be the sensible choice.