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Pep Guardiola Says Decision on New Fernandinho Contract Will Be Made Next Summer

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Fernandinho of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League group C match between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk at Etihad Stadium on November 26, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has said the club won't make a decision on whether to give Fernandinho a new contract until the summer. 

Fernandinho's deal will expire on June 30, so he'll be leaving the club if they don't offer him a new one.

Per James Robson of the Evening Standard, Guardiola said:

"I think at the end of the season we are going to decide on the situation.

"The players who finished their contracts, the players with full contracts, what we have to do is what we believe is the best for the club and organisation for next season."

City brought in Rodrigo from Atletico Madrid last summer as a long-term defensive-midfield replacement for Fernandinho, 34.

On paper, the Spaniard looked to be the perfect recruit for City in this position thanks to his blend of impressive technical skill and robust physicality.

However, as The Athletic's Sam Lee observed, he has struggled somewhat in the early months of his City career:

Sam Lee @SamLee

As I wrote back at the start of the season, City expected Rodri to need time to learn exactly when to press/push up so as not to leave big spaces behind him, so those problems won’t come as a major surprise atm, but it’s fair to say he’s probably not doing as well as expected yet

Meanwhile, a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte early in the season prompted Guardiola to use Fernandinho as a makeshift centre-back.

The Brazilian has adapted to the new position well, and he has been keeping natural centre-back Nicolas Otamendi out of the starting lineup.

Per BBC Sport's Mike Minay, Guardiola recently explained his decision to keep Fernandinho in defence, despite having two fit centre-backs:

Mike Minay @MikeMinay

Me: Why Fernandinho over Otamendi in defence? Pep: He's playing so good. Me: Is he not better suited to midfield? Pep: I like Gundogan there. When he's free against five in the back, he's so brilliant, so clever to pass the ball, to make our fluid game. #ManCity

However, Robson believes City are missing him in midfield:

James Robson @jamesrobsonES

Personally I think it was too soon to end Fernandinho’s midfield career. He’s been vital to the last two titles. Rodri & Gundogan are different types of midfielder & City just don’t look the same when they’re in the holding role

Whichever position he plays, it's clear that despite his age he's still a valuable asset to City.

However, he'll be 35 in May, and his time at the top level will likely be coming to an end soon.

Much could depend on how well Rodrigo performs for the remainder of the season. If he settles in and rediscovers the form he showed with Atleti and City strengthen their defence next summer, they'll be able to let him move on.

Should Rodrigo continue to struggle, keeping Fernandinho for another year could help them continue their transition.