When 28-year-old Fernandinho joined Manchester City from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30 million, it’s fair to say a few eyebrows were raised.
The midfielder, who has only represented his country on five occasions, was a relatively unknown player in this part of Europe and questions were asked of City’s valuation of a player who could be seen as advancing in years. However, the Brazilian has been one of City’s best players this season and there are calls for him to be included in Felipe Scolari’s World Cup squad.
Manchester City had a season to forget last year, losing the title to rivals United and the lack of a real defensive midfielder was a reason many gave for that. Nigel De Jong had occupied the role in the title-winning 11/12 season but his departure left a hole which wasn’t adequately filled. Javi Garcia was acquired last summer but I think it goes without saying he didn’t really get the job done. So, after last season’s disappointment it was necessary Manuel Pellegrini purchased a player who could do a job similar to what De Jong did and the Chilean definitely delivered.
Fernandinho arrived at the Etihad in the summer and was instantly integrated in to City’s starting line up. The Brazilian is typically a box-to-box midfielder but he was used as a defensive midfielder, a role which he fulfils equally well. He started all of the blues’ early season games and impressed during those fixtures. After only a few games of witnessing Fernandinho’s tremendous energy levels, tough tackling and superb range of passing, it was becoming clear City had picked up the ideal player to protect the back four and allow Yaya Toure to venture forward, something we sporadically saw last season.
However, it’s been the Brazilian’s recent performances which have been deserving of a place in his country’s squad. His performance in the 6-3 win against Arsenal was particularly wonderful. The midfielder bossed the game with 4 tackles and 2 interceptions and topped it off with 2 goals in his man of the match performance. In terms of the rest of his appearances, the stats show he has performed very well this season. In the Premier League, he sustains an average pass accuracy of 87% and also averages 3.5 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per game, revealing he is fulfilling his defensive role very well.
In order to justify Fernandinho’s deserved inclusion in Brazil’s World Cup squad, we need to look at how he is comparing with his fellow countrymen in the defensive midfielder position. Brazil are most likely to take Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo and Sandro to the World Cup and Fernandinho has performed better than all three of them this season. In their respective domestic leagues this season, Paulinho has an average pass accuracy of 85% Sandro has 84% and Gustavo 83%. Fernandinho ranks highest with 87%.
In terms of tackles per game, Sandro averages 1.2 tackles per game, Paulinho averages 2.3 and Luiz Gustavo 4.2. Fernandinho ranks second among the four with 3.5 tackles per game. Finally for interceptions per game, Sandro averages 1.8, Paulinho averages 1 and Gustavo 2.6. Fernandinho also averages 2.6 and so is joint first among the four. The stats show that Fernandinho is having a better season than the majority, if not all his positional rivals. It’s also worth noting that Fernandinho’s natural position is a box-to-box midfielder and is outplaying natural defensive midfielders this season.
Fernandinho is having a tremendous debut season in the Premier League and is giving Scolari a massive headache on which midfielders to take to the World Cup. City’s tenacious midfielder is definitely worthy of a place in the squad and hopefully we will see him called up to the squad for friendlies in the near future. The last time Fernandinho featured for his country was back in 2012 but if he continues to play the way he is for City then I don’t see how Scolari can overlook him for a place in his World Cup squad, which was Fernandinho’s preeminent reason for joining City.
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