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Is Fernandinho the most important player in the Premier League?

| 04.12.2018

City could struggle if he misses any action

Manchester City served up another feast of football in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth to maintain their Premier League lead.

Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane were the stars of the show, but as ever, Fernandinho played an influential role at the Etihad.

He knits everything together in midfield. The Brazilian’s ability to break up opposition moves and quickly get the team moving forwards is vital to the way they play. No City player has seen more top-flight minutes during Pep Guardiola’s time at the Etihad.

City are 2/9 to defend their league title and 10/3 favourites in the Champions League. Everything seems to be going smoothly right now. But if anything is going to derail their season, it could be an injury to Fernandinho.

Lack of alternatives

Playing alongside the likes of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho isn’t the most talented member of City’s squad. But he may be the hardest to replace.

De Bruyne hasn’t started a league game this season and City haven’t missed a beat. Guardiola has plenty of alternatives in attacking areas. He’s spoilt for choice at centre-back, while Danilo and Fabian Delph offer cover in the full-back spots.

But there isn’t really a natural replacement for Fernandinho in that defensive midfield role. Ilkay Gundogan and Delph have both filled in before, but neither are an ideal fit. They don’t have the veteran’s intuitive understanding of the position.

Need for a break

The former Shakhtar Donetsk star is now 33-years-old. He’s in great shape, but all players need a break at some point.

City will play nine games in all competitions during December – roughly one game every 3.5 days. Any player would struggle with that relentless schedule, let alone someone coming towards the end of their career.

The problem is that he’s so crucial to the system that it’s hard for Guardiola to leave him out. If he does, the team just don’t function as well.

Open the chequebook?

City know that they are too reliant on Fernandinho, which is why they were so keen to bring in Jorginho during the summer. The former Napoli midfielder’s displays at Chelsea have shown why he’d have been a perfect long-term replacement for City’s number 25.

Guardiola has recently ruled out bringing in another midfielder when the transfer window reopens in January. But even if someone were to come in, it’d take some time before they got up to speed with City’s gameplan.

As it is, the champions will have to remain hopeful that Fernandinho stays fit. If he doesn’t, we may have a real title race on our hands.

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Daniel Anwar

Daniel has written about sport for Coral, Squawka, FourFourTwo and the Premier League, among others.