Fernandinho

WATCH: Robbie Mustoe’s All-Time Premier League defensive midfielders

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Selecting the five best defensive midfielders in the Premier League era is a massive challenge.

Few are better-suited for the gig than our own Robbie Mustoe.

Known now as one-half of The 2 Robbies, Mustoe put together a career with more than 200 Premier League appearances in the center of the park.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Mustoe spent the lion’s share of his career with Middlesbrough, where he scored 12 top-flight goals. He also spent time with Charlton Athletic, Oxford United, and Sheffield Wednesday.

The five men he selected all played in this century, two remain active, and each has claimed at least one Premier League title.

See the video at the top of the page to learn their identities, and head here to watch Kyle Martino detail his top five entertainers of the Premier League era.

Eriksen seals Inter move; Fernandinho signs new contract

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Christian Eriksen has finally sealed his move to Inter Milan as he has already trained with his new team.

Antonio Conte really loved the Premier League, huh?

Eriksen, 27, joins Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as Premier League stars which have swapped England for the San Siro and Inter need the Danish playmaker to hit the ground running as they sit three points behind Juventus in the race for the Serie A title.

The deal reportedly bagged Spurs a $23 million transfer fee, which isn’t bad at all for a player who was out of contract this summer. Eriksen will also significantly increase his wages to over $160,000 per week, so everyone wins here. Even his former club Ajax, who receive a 10 percent sell-on fee.

With Eriksen finally gone, Spurs have moved fast to sign Giovani Lo Celso on a permanent deal and and are close to signing Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn from PSV Eindhoven.

It is true that Eriksen’s final few months at Tottenham have been far from stellar as he’s been booed by his own fans at times and has put in several lackluster displays since he revealed after the UEFA Champions League final last June that he wanted to leave Spurs and was ready for the next challenge.

Overall, though, Eriksen’s six-and-a-half seasons at Spurs can be deemed a huge success as he was a key part of making the Champions League in four-straight seasons under Mauricio Pochettino. His set pieces, pinpoint crosses and drifting between the attacking and midfield lines gave Spurs something a little different and his connection with Harry Kane and Dele Alli in particular was incredibly strong in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.


In other news, Fernandinho has signed a new contract at Man City as the 34-year-old Brazilian midfielder (who has played at center back for most of this season) continues to be a key player for the reigning Premier League champions.

Fernandinho has won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cups during his seven season stay at Man City and the former Shakhtar Donetsk star was delighted to commit to Pep Guardiola‘s side until the end of the 2020-21 season.

“This is the best possible news,” Fernandinho said. “I want to take this opportunity to put on record how grateful I am to my teammates and the backroom staff here at City. Without them, this deal would not be possible, so sincere thanks to every single one of them. I have enjoyed every second of my time here. I never expected to build such a meaningful relationship with the club and the fans, but it has happened, and I am grateful every single day.”

Fernandinho said he wants the recent success under Guardiola to carry on “for as long as possible” and there’s no doubt he will be connected with Man City for many years to come in a coaching or ambassador capacity after his playing days are over.

A proper pro, Fernandinho is so reliable and his passing is underrated too as he sets the tone from the engine room.

Pep effusive in praise for Rodri after magnificent goal, performance

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Pep Guardiola raved about his Manchester City side after a 4-1 defeat of Burnley on Tuesday at Turf Moor, though previous criticisms were clearly still in his head.

Guardiola either didn’t understand or was caught off guard by a relatively straight-forward question about Rodri’s quality allowing Fernandinho to play center back, and bristled a bit.

[ RECAP: Burnley 1-4 Man City ]

“We are open to accept your opinions but at the end we know the qualities of the players much better than all of you and we know what the team needs in this moment. In Fernandinho for his personality and his character is an important player.”

Well, then. A simple misunderstanding, but perhaps a look into the mindset of the man right now.

The manager was very happy with Gabriel Jesus‘ brace and Rodri’s Man of the Match performance, one which included a bullet goal, as City rebounded from back-to-back draws against Shakhtar Donetsk and Newcastle.

He saved special praise for Rodri.

“He was incredible,” Guardiola said. “His position in the transition is so clever. He has a much better picture of our game in his head. He’s a fantastic player, so young and perfect in his physicality. He’s got it because a guy who wants to learn and listen, he’s ready, and that’s why we can count on him.”

As for Jesus, who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the place of injured Sergio Aguero, Guardiola expressed his confidence in the 22-year-old Brazilian.

“We need him so,” Guardiola said. “Strikers have to score goals and we need him. His effort and his commitment is always there, but strikers like him live for the goal and to score is important. … Of course it’s not easy but the team doesn’t have a doubt about him.”

Man City next hosts Manchester United on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Guardiola: Man City won’t add to squad in January

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Manchester City appears to be woefully short of depth in central defense, but according to Pep Guardiola, he’s happy with the squad he wants and doesn’t want to add to it.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Guardiola said he doesn’t intend to use the upcoming January transfer window to upgrade his squad. That’s despite his side sitting 11-points behind league leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, with defensive errors leading to Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at St. James Park.

[READ: Premier League Storylines: Week 15]

“I don’t want any players in January,” Guardiola said, via the Guardian. “When they come for an incredible opportunity in January for the next four, five, six [years] maybe we could think about it. Normally the players we could think would be interesting to add something for our squad – clubs are not going to sell them in January.”

On one hand, Guardiola is correct. It’s difficult to get top-quality players in January. In a rare instance, Leicester City was able to sign Youri Tielemans on January transfer deadline day last year, while Virgil Van Dijk moved at the start of the January transfer window in 2018. However, in general, Man City isn’t going to be able to sign a world-class centerback in January unless they spend boatloads of money.

On the other hand, Man City isn’t at its best when 35-year-old Fernandinho is deputizing at centerback when the team is playing a high line. Obviously, Aymeric Laporte, one of the best centerbacks in the world, will be back from injury within the next couple of months. But until then, Man City can’t afford to drop any more points.

With John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi both struggling, maybe a signing in January, even of a veteran from La Liga or the Bundesliga, could help the team or at least provide defensive cover.

Guardiola says Fernandinho-Rodri CB pairing helped build-up

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Pep Guardiola was willing to play with fire, and still got a clean sheet.

It was Ederson who often made sure the Manchester City manager didn’t get burned for his decision to play midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri at center back in a 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Crystal Palace 0-2 Man City ]

So how did Guardiola prepare for the decision to use the duo with John Stones not fully fit and Nicolas Otamendi picking up a midweek knock?

“Rodri did not train one day in that position,” he said. “The back four responded well I think.”

Cary Elwes double-take meme. Excuse us? Wow.

While the pair did have its share of dodgy moments at the back, Guardiola liked what they brought to the game.

“Our build-up was quicker because they have more intelligence and they pass the ball so well because they are central midfielders,” he said.

Guardiola was asked about City’s sensational second goal (above), as Raheem Sterling capped a neat team move with a superb scoop to David Silva for a fantastic finish.

“We enjoyed the second goal, it was nice,” he said. “But in the Premier League we have to score the third and fourth because it was difficult in the end with the pressure.”

Now City builds for a Champions League midweek match with Atalanta, where a win would put the Premier League champions on the verge of a knockout round berth and ease Pep’s lineup choices for the congested next few weeks.