Scouting Fernandinho: Rumoured Manchester City Signing
"I believe my chances of making the World Cup squad will improve if I join City," Fernandinho told reporters earlier this week (ESPN), sparking a brand new set of transfer speculation.
The Brazilian turned 28 just last week, sealing a sixth Ukrainian Premier League title for good measure. The timing could not be better suited for a move onwards.
There have only been two seasons since arriving in Donetsk that the midfielder has failed to secure a league title, while he has also won the UEFA Cup and twice reached the latter stages of the Champions League.
The feeling is, though, that Shakhtar have hit somewhat of a glass ceiling, while the sale of attacking midfielder Willian in January saw a major component of the Miners' side head for pastures new.
In 2012, when former star Jadson was allowed to leave, it was in the knowledge that Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan was on his way to become a fine replacement. Willian, though, was sold against the club's wishes, and there are significant doubts as to whether replacement Taison is a step in the right direction.
For Fernandinho, then, the choices could not be more clear. His career in Ukraine is complete—he will forever be regarded as a great player there, he has won everything domestically, and will remain an idol to Shakhtar supporters.
However, the World Cup in 2014 is now just 12 months away. It was a lack of national team opportunity that led to Jadson leaving the Donbass Arena, and now Fernandinho will likely follow suit.
If he wants to feature in Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's thoughts, he must now do something exceptional. A club like Manchester City would afford him that opportunity, as well as a new professional challenge.
Ultimately, that is why Shakhtar will be loath to see him leave. Besides being a wonderful player, Fernandinho is also a model professional—integrating well into his Ukrainain environs, unlike most of his Brazilian colleagues who have preferred to remain separated.
While, though, he has contributed immensely off the pitch to Shakhtar's rise, he has abilities on the pitch that would benefit any side.
The talk is that Manchester City are very interested in the Brazilian (Telegraph), and it is easy to see why.
First-choice central midfielders Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia have proved too static and cautious in their play this season, while Jack Rodwell has occasionally provided attacking thrust, but is a continual fitness worry. Too often, it is solely left to Yaya Toure to provide that impetus.
Replace either Barry or Garcia with Fernandinho, though, and you have a highly mobile force in central areas. The easy comparison would be Chelsea star Ramires, but while the Blues midfielder may boast more speed and stamina, Fernandinho is a better technical player.
Shakhtar have become famed in recent years for their vibrant and fluid playing style. It is a style built upon the talents of Fernandinho and Jadson, then further improved upon by the younger generation of Mkhitaryan and Willian.
Should Manchester City move for Fernandinho this summer?
Having watched the Ukrainian side cut through Chelsea in this year's Champions League, potential bidders couldn't help but have been impressed by Fernandinho's central role.
Fernandinho plays vertically, carrying the ball forward and linking the midfield lines—in this respect similar to the aforementioned Ramires. He is adept at receiving the ball in tight situations, linking play well and also looking to open up the attack.
That ability to judge the pace of an attack has been one of his greatest strengths, with both Shakhtar and the Brazilian national team. He will allow moves to steadily build, with sharp interchanges in midfield, before seeking to pick out a through ball at the correct time.
It is an ability that Fernandinho has mastered, along with knowing when to surge forward from midfield. Such late runs were what unsettled Chelsea so greatly earlier this campaign.
The Brazilian has just 12 months to earn himself a place at the 2014 World Cup, while any move will also be an opportunity for him to finally earn the wider respect he deserves.
Motivation, then, will not be an issue, as the former Atletico Paranaense player has always been a committed and hardworking team player.
If he can be procured at a reasonable price, Fernandinho will no doubt seize his long-awaited opportunity to shine on the big stage.
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