Eyebrows and other articles were raised when Manchester city dished out £30 million for Shaktar Donestk’s Fernandinho Luiz Rosa. The 28-year-old Brazilian had only ever played in Brazil and Ukraine and to command such an extortionate fee was bizarre to many people. Inevitably FootballFunnys and other disdainful twitter football account were quick to compare transfer fees and caps with Paulinho, Spurs’s recent £16m Brazilian acquisition from Corinthians. The caps were of course compared unfavourably, and City were once again vilified for having overpaid for yet another player.
There were concerns early on after watching a few clips of the Brazilian. Fernandinho arrived as a box-to box midfielder with City already bearing a few of those. He was notorious for his long-bursting runs and deep-playmaking abilities during his time at Shaktar, so his arrival and potential partnership with Yaya Toure were highly anticipated. Taking over from Gareth Barry was by no means an easy job.
Fernandinho came into the side at Newcastle and performed an industrious role in an easy win, however subsequent matches against Cardiff, Hull and Stoke highlighted his slightly light frame and the gaps in the midfield partnership. After a few tweaks, Fernandinho was moved deeper and Yaya just ahead of him, and soon everything clicked. Pellegrini appeared to have finally found the perfect balance and the team suddenly looked more vibrant.
Amongst the tidal wave of praise for Aguero and Negredo, Fernandinho performed a quiet, diligent job behind them. His superb early performances against West Ham, Everton and particularly Manchester United banished any remaining doubts held by City fans. Calm intricate recycling of possession and brilliant reading of the game are skills that City fans have grown accustomed to from midfielders in recent years, yet Fernandinho took the role to a whole new level. His ability to transit defence to attack, hold a midfield almost on his own while offering a dynamic attacking threat makes you realise why Pellegrini was so desperate to get his hands of him. The highest numbers of tackles in the team, the most interceptions and an 88% pass completion rate also go some way in explaining the integral role he plays in this expansive team. It’s no exaggeration to suggest he has become the real heartbeat of Pellegrini’s Manchester City.
Unfortunately it was only until the games against Bayern Munich and Arsenal did Fernandinho ensure everybody else noticed him. In the space of a couple of days he dominated one of the greatest midfields in the world at their own backyard and then hit two goals against title rivals Arsenal in a man of the match performance. Ferny saved his best for when City needed it the most.
Michael Owen’s strange comments on Fernandinho after the Arsenal game typified common, lazy attitudes among many pundits. To even mildly suggest that Fernandinho only convinced you after that game means either you haven’t been watching many City games this season or you don’t know very much about football. Fernandinho has looked every penny worth the £30 million to bring him here; his presence lifts the team like no other. He gives our mercurial talents the platform and confidence to perform their roles without worrying about the other half of midfield.
And like Negredo with Aguero, Fernandinho has helped bring the best out of Yaya Toure who already has 11 goals this season. The Brazilian’s non-selfish style of play literally typified his transfer, where he paid £4m of his own money to help push the move through in order achieve his dream. The fact that Scolari stubbornly refuses to include Fernandinho in the Brazil squad is a decision looking more bizarre every week. While Paulinho and Sandro struggle for form, Fernandinho excels with every passing game.
Manchester City did done some excellent business in the summer transfer window yet Fernandinho has been undeniably the most effective. His role in the team is growing ever more important and he appears to be that missing midfield piece in Europe. The crowd that castigated City for overpaying again has gone awfully quiet this season.
Written by Anis Bazza