If one were to compile a list of the best value-for-money signings made by Premier League clubs during the summer transfer window, it is anybody's guess as to who would feature at the top of the list.
My personal nominees would be the Swansea duo of Wilfried Bony and Jonjo Shelvey, Norwich's Dutch poacher Ricky van Wolfswinkel and possibly Liverpool's Simon Mignolet.
While this list was compiled completely off the top of my head, I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that the worst value-for-money signing of the summer transfer window is Manchester City's acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.
While this article is by no means a condemnation of the player's abilities, it recognises that there have been many more financially prudent and tactically necessary signings made by Premier League clubs this summer.
Following the departure of Italian manager Roberto Mancini, former Villareal and Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini was installed in the hot seat at the Etihad, and began his tenure by securing the purchases of Spanish winger Jesus Navas from Sevilla and Fernandinho from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk for £14.9m and £30m respectively.
He then took City's summer transfer expenditure up to almost a £100 million by signing forwards Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo.
While Jovetic has yet to make a Premier League appearance with his new club, Navas and Negredo have impressed supporters and critics alike, with the winger providing pace and penetration down the right flank and excellent delivery from set pieces, and the striker showing glimpses of his predatory instincts in front of goal in the two appearances he has made from the bench.
However, Fernandinho has so far failed to light the pitch up on either of the two occasions he has been given a berth in the starting line-up, and will have to show significant improvements in his performances if he is to avoid criticism from supporters.
An article on Bleacher Report described the player as "a defensive midfielder with a box to box style of play, contributing in large part to the defence and the attack." Written in January 2011 while the player was at Shakhtar, the article also attested to Fernandinho's ability to break down opposition attacks and create goalscoring opportunities, and cited his powerful shot and diverse range of passing as reasons for his excellent goal-scoring record with the Ukrainian giants.
However, the midfielder has done little so far to justify either the high regard in which he is held or the gargantuan sum of money that Manchester City had to fork out to acquire his services.
Granted, he is a neat passer of the ball, and was responsible in part for City monopolising possession in their impressive 4-0 win over Newcastle United in the opening game of the 2013/14 campaign. In fact, WhoScored.com measures his passing accuracy for the games against Newcastle and Cardiff City at a cool 88%, with 117 completed passes out of 133 attempted.
However, it has to be taken into consideration that most of these passes were made sideways to the likes of Gael Clichy, David Silva and Yaya Toure, and Fernandinho showed little ambition to contribute to the offensive area of City's game.
He was decent at best when in possession of the ball, and evidently has some way to go before being completely acclimatised to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, judging by the number of occasions he was robbed of possession by the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote. Even against Cardiff City, Fernandinho did not stand out as spectacular by any means.
It is also fair to bring up the necessity of the signing of Fernandinho in the first place. When Pellegrini arrived at the Etihad, he had Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia and youth product Abdur Razak to choose from to partner Yaya Toure in the centre of midfield.
Each of these players is very neat in possession, and could have been expected to perform the exact same role that we have seen Fernandinho in, possibly even at higher levels of efficiency and execution (Jack Rodwell, for one, can be an extremely energetic figure in the centre of the park, while Gareth Barry is excellent at rotating possession. Therefore, for City to deem it necessary to spend the kind of money they did to bring Fernandinho in raises some eyebrows.
Additionally, in light of the problems that City are facing defensively, what with Kolo Toure being allowed to leave for Liverpool during the off-season and Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic out injured, Fernandinho's signing seems even more foolish and poorly thought out.
Part of the £30m spent on the midfielder could have been made use of to shore up the defence, offering cover for Kompany and Co. City were certainly in greater need of a central defender than a midfielder, and the signing of Fernandinho could have been well avoided without any negative repercussions.
Even when you consider the presence of Micah Richards and Dedryck Boyata at the back, City seemed to be much more stable in the middle of the park than in defence at the start of the season, leaving little need for another defensive midfielder.
In conclusion, while Fernandinho may well go on to be a decent player for Manchester City despite his ordinary performances so far, the fact that Manchester City had to part with £30m to sign him, and the circumstances surrounding his signature, make him one of the worst value-for-money signings of the Premier League so far.
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