It’s often said that the most intelligent footballers can play anywhere.
The Brazilian is tactically astute and sees the game in detail. Guardiola recently name-checked him one of the players in the current City squad who is keen to discuss the intricacies of the game at length in a bid to further his knowledge and understanding of how best to prepare for and win football matches. Surely, a career in coaching awaits him once his playing days are over.
Last season, with City in need of a reshuffle, he played on the right-wing in consecutive games against Dynamo Kiev and Liverpool in the League Cup final, producing two excellent displays that included a crucial goal at Wembley that helped City to silverware. With little notice, he slotted into an unfamiliar role and did so with aplomb. Few players could have done so with such ease.
And this season has seen him take his versatility to new levels. He’s played right-back, left-back, attacking midfield and in his familiar holding role, each week being shifted around, his performance level rarely changing. He’s an invaluable member of the squad whose flexibility is unmatched.
Let’s take a closer look at his stats.
In the Premier League alone, Fernandinho has made 23 appearances totalling 1,945 minutes – the fifth-highest in the City squad. Given he has served two suspensions, it shows just how highly valued he is by Guardiola that he has racked up so much playing time.
The reasons for his elevated status are obvious. He is a fine passer, helping City retain possession of the ball – a key element of Guardiola’s style of football. He’s made 1,522 passes – around 66 per game - completing 86 per cent of them. Those are fine statistics.
Chelsea’s N’golo Kante attempts less passes per game (61) and completes slightly more at 88 per cent. The fact that Fernandinho is close to Kante, widely seen as one of the players of the season, despite the Brazilian being moved around so frequently, speaks volumes.
He’s assisted one league goal and creates one clear chance per game for his teammates, while defensively he has made 50 interceptions and wins half of his aerial duels.
Fernandinho is an all-round player, one who can sit deep and help restrict the opposition or break forward and add quality in the final third.
No wonder he has become Guardiola’s Mr. Versatile.
All stats relate to Premier League games only