If you’ve been keeping up with the Fernandinho saga it appears Manchester City have agreed to pay anywhere from £30 million (Guardian) to £34 million (Sky Sports) for the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder.
Knowing these figures, let’s take a look at whether this is a good deal for City.
To make that assessment we start by examining at Fernandinho as a player. For my money, he is quite the ticket. Perhaps the most relevant sample of the Brazilian is to recall the destruction he created against Chelsea in last fall’s Champions League Group Stage.
In the first meeting between the sides Fernandinho fired Shakhtar to a 2-1 victory, netting the game-winner in the 52nd minute. That goal was, quite literally, all Fernandinho. After the Brazilian snatched the ball from Eden Hazard, he broke upfield and found the return pass from Adriano before ripping a confident low shot past Petr Cech and into the far corner.
In the second meeting, Shakhtar lost 3-2 at Stamford Bridge but Fernandinho once again terrorized the Blues with his defensive prowess, transition and sleek passing. After going down a goal early it was Fernandinho who drove at the Chelsea defense and pulled back a cross for Willian to equalize. After Oscar scored in the 40th minute, Fernandinho again played the role of orchestrator by slicing up the Chelsea with a pass that found Darijo Srna to cross and Willian to finish.
Based on these kinds of displays, many compare Fernandinho to Chelsea’s Ramires, although the former possesses greater mobility and a wider, more accurate, variety of passing skills. Like Ramires, Fernandinho is also known for bursts of energy, commonly seen on counter-attacks, and an uncanny ability to finish on transition.
It’s also important to consider where Fernandinho is coming from.
The Ukrainian League, while home to a few quality teams, is not known as one of the stronger leagues in Europe. Fernandinho himself has noted that this is a problem, claiming he wants to come to City because the exposure of the Premier League will help him meet his goal of making Brazil’s World Cup team.
The fact that Fernandinho has played in the Ukraine for a really long time – since 2005 – causes some worry as well. But playing 184 games in a lower league can be looked at in one of two ways – either he lacks top drawer experience or he’s simply a late developer now poised for the big time. City, quite obviously, hope and believe it’s the later.
So where would Fernandinho fit in?
After last summer’s departure of Nigel De Jong, City tried to seal the gaps by bringing in Javi Garcia from Benfica and Jack Rodwell from Everton. Neither one impressed. With Fernandinho, City supporters see a player who could slide in next to Yaya Toure and provide a dynamic partnership of both defensive grit and offensive horsepower.
So what are the remaining sticking points?
When we talk about potential issues with Fernandinho the number one problem is his age. At 28 years old, this is a player who’s logged 256 appearances in top level football, which is considerable mileage.
Dropping world-class striker money on a holding midfielder with that kind of mileage seems a bit aggressive. Not only is City risking that they won’t get £30-34 million worth of production out of Fernandinho but that kind of fee also raises flags around Financial Fair Play.
So what do you think? Is Fernandinho a good deal for City? Or are the Citizens getting a little too trigger happy in this summer’s transfer market?