ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly identified Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred as a long-term successor to Fernandinho at the Etihad Stadium.
According to James Robson of the Manchester Evening News, City have made initial steps with a view to a £30 million move in the future, although it’s added a January transfer would be tough to broker.
“A January deal for the 24-year-old is seen as a long shot—but by starting the process early, City believe they will have a head start in the summer, just as they did with the signings of Bernardo Silva and Ederson last year” noted Robson. “And with Fred cup-tied for the Champions League, it is not seen as crucial that he arrives midway through the campaign.”
As noted in the report, Manchester United and Arsenal have also been linked with a possible move for the Shakhtar man, who is said to have caught City boss Guardiola’s eye when the sides met in the UEFA Champions League recently.
Per the Selecao Brasileira Twitter account, the midfielder has made it clear in the past he would love to link up with Guardiola:
Seleção Brasileira @BrazilStat
FRED on Man City interest:
“I’m eagerly waiting for Guardiola’s phone call to arrive. I think I would grow a lot with him. England is the best league in the world, I’ve always had the dream of playing there.” https://t.co/jVBOukzPor
The defensive-midfield position is one area of the City squad where they are short on numbers, as an injury to Fernandinho would be a big issue for the team.
Yaya Toure would be able to fill in there, although he no longer has the energy reserves to adequately protect the defence. Danilo has also been used as a makeshift option in the middle, whereas Fabian Delph could move infield from left-back.
Clive Rose/Getty Images
However, none of those options would be as effective as Fernandinho, as the Brazilian has been one of City’s unsung heroes this term. According to Robson, the 32-year-old is set to agree a new deal with the Premier League leaders soon.
As these numbers from Het Laatste Nieuws‘ Kristof Terreur reveal, Fernandinho leaves his imprint on matches frequently:
Kristof Terreur 📰 @HLNinEngeland
The General is almost The General: most passes per 90 mins in the Premier League this season:
🇧🇷 Fernandinho – 92,5
🇦🇷 N. Otamendi – 92,3
🇪🇸 D. Silva – 88,6
🇪🇸 C. Fabregas – 87,7
🇨🇭G. Xhaka – 86,6
#mcfc #cfc #afc https://t.co/9W136V98zy
He won’t be able to go on forever, though, and as such it makes sense for City to consider alternatives. Fred would be a fascinating option.
Like Fernandinho, he moved from Brazil to the Ukrainian giants and has been making impressive progress in recent years. Stylistically, there are similarities between the two players as well, with the Shakhtar man a shielding influence in front of the back four and a calm presence on the ball.
As WhoScored.com noted, Fred is excellent at carrying the ball in the middle of the pitch, too:
Fred: Of the 105 players to attempt 10+ dribbles in the Champions League this season, Fred has the best dribble success rate (95.2%)
Full player stats — https://t.co/xwZi8mgZ8I https://t.co/lMWXBNzaLI
With the factors Robson mentioned considered, there isn’t a huge rush on City’s part to get this deal done, especially with Fernandinho’s good form and his few signs of slowing down.
In the summer, it’s a deal you sense Guardiola will consider as a priority, though. Fernandinho will be another year older and will find it tougher to set such high standards in every game. Fred appears to be an ideal stylistic replacement and should he head to Manchester, will hope to be as successful as the previous star to have arrived from Shakhtar.