'Little Fernando' flies in

Posted by Simon Curtis

Without as much as a confirmed manager, Manchester City have announced the completion of their second new signing of the week. Having brought in the speed and width of Jesus Navas, the invisible hand of Manuel Pellegrini can be seen in the attempted purchase of Shakhtar's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.

This is yet another speed merchant, one who started life as an attacking midfielder and now plies his trade farther back in one of the defensive midfield holes. The signing of the Brazilian, coupled to that of Navas, has the Pellegrini stamp all over it. Speed, precision, beauty. The Chilean's Malaga side of 2012-13 had all of these attributes by the bucketload and here we witness an early attempt to replicate these qualities in his City grand cru of 2013-14.

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It is widely agreed that City failed on several fronts last season. Build-up play was often stodgy and slow, while the attacking intent seemed to become funneled too often through a narrow central area. With the acquisition of Navas, the attack is taken wide to the right, allowing the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri (if he is kept on) to float inside and wreak havoc where the opposition will least like it.

Fernandinho is a different proposition. Athletic, swift and accurate in his distribution, the Brazilian now plies his trade as a second defensive midfielder, able to pass short or over long distances without losing accuracy, good at closing space and adept at putting his foot in. His closest replica in the Premier League today may well be the wiry, athletic figure of Ramires at Chelsea.

The question is, what do City want Fernandinho to do? It has already been whispered that, if he is seen as a replacement for Gareth Barry, coming off the back of another fine season of holding and shuffling but with questions beginning to be asked of his concentration in certain games, this might not be a total success.

Alongside Yaya Touré, the temptation is to suggest that too many defensive holes will appear for Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic to plug all at once by themselves. As Fernandinho does not operate as the main defensive midfielder, and with Yaya's frequent need to belt up the pitch like a runaway train already noted by all, something must give. As a replacement for Toure, when he is rested, injured or on international duty, it begins to look more realistic, but one doubts whether a signing of this profile is destined for the bench and a succession of low-key call-ups in the League Cup.

What is certain is that City have landed another dynamic, fast-moving midfielder to add to the collection of little wizards and conjurors already doing the rounds in Manchester 11. For Fernandinho, a chance awaits to raise his own profile in a club apparently very much on the up, as he prepares to make himself more visible to Luiz Felipe Scolari before the 2014 World Cup is upon us. After last summer's unpleasant transfer doldrums, one thing is patently clear: City have hit the transfer market like a whirlwind this time round.

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