Manchester City’s signing of the season

by Julian Boland

Fernandinho CityWhen Fernandinho signed for City, he crept under the radar as players were being sold and bought like wild-fire. Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid signed Gareth Bale, Tottenham signed Roberto Soldaldo, Barcelona signed Neymar, but who was City’s marquee signing?

At the time this was a hard question as they had signed five quality players, totalling over 100 million pounds. The Sky Blues brought in Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Martin Demechilis and a Brazilian named Fernandinho. The latter I believe has earned the tag signing of the season, not just for City, but the Premier League itself.

Saturday’ss performance after coming on for Sergio Aguero against Everton in the first half sums up the importance of Fernandinho to the title chasers. The Brazilian put in a dominant performance in the middle of the park, demonstrating pace, power, vision, technique, work rate and awareness.              

In the build up to Manchester City’s second goal, Fernandinho found the better side of Leighton Baines, sped away, and sent a pass in between the defence to give Edin Dzeko a scoring chance. Tim Howard saved Dzeko’s effort, but the ball spilled to James Milner, who whipped the ball onto Dzeko’s forehead to make it 1-2. It was Fernandinho’s awareness to tuck inside of Baines for Kompany to find him and unleash a run that led to the goal. For the duration of the season, Fernandinho has shown he has the stereotypical pace of a Brazilian footballer, and that attribute has been a secret weapon for the 2012 Premier League champions, with aggressive pile-driving runs from the centre of the park.

The power that Fernandinho exerts is phenomenal for someone of his stature. This is why the former Shakthar Donetsk man and Yaya Toure make the perfect pair, they are both epicenters in the middle of the park sending waves of force towards the opposition when the ball is at their feet. Defenders and midfielders struggle to put to challenge him, as he is more of a charging rhino than a running Brazilian when in full flight.

The vision and passing of Fernandinho is majorly underrated compared to holding midfielders such as Ilkay Gundogan, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sergio Busquets and his midfield partner Yaya Toure. According to football statistic website WhoScored.com, Fernandinho ranks fourth at Manchester City in terms of pass accuracy in the Premier League. The Brazilian has created 41 scoring opportunities for his team mates in 31 appearances, and has contributed three assists.

The dribbling technique of the Brazilian has been seen many times this season. The build up of Dzeko’s first goal at the weekend involved Fernandinho gliding past Baines, then slowing the ball down and giving himself two important aspects of dribbling; space and time. When Fernandinho is on the ball, he manages to take the ball that is glued to his feet to dangerous areas, and giving himself space between the defence and himself. The pace and power he demonstrates helps him accomplish this. When carrying the ball through the Everton line of midfield to defence, he decelerated and found open space, rewarding him with the time to play the perfect pass, which he performed, resulting in the build up to a goal.

Perhaps the most important quality of the engine that runs the midfield is his work rate. If someone were to watch him for the first time, they would be forgiven for assuming that there is two of him on the field. Non-stop running and not finishing until every blade of grass is covered, his never-stop-working mantra has saved and helped Manchester City dominate the centre of the park in games. This work rate merged with awareness of where to be has acted as a catalyst to City’s domestic dominance of midfield. When his partner in crime, Yaya Toure, attacks, Fernandinho knows to stay back and screen the back four. If the attack seems dull and needs a spark to ignite the fuse, he knows to push up and help the forwards crack the shell of the defence.

Fernandinho is a rare player that has all these qualities, demonstrating them in every game he plays. It is these tireless performances that have earned him such praise and an assured spot in the Manchester City starting eleven as they continue their push for the title.

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