The latest in the line of big-money signings at the Etihad Stadium, the Brazilian comes to the Premier League hoping to enhance his World Cup chances
By Husmukh Kerai
Electric pace, an excellent reader of the game, a blistering long-range shot, a potent attacking threat but also a reliable defensive shield - Fernandinho, or 'little Fernando', is the prototypical 21st-century box-to-box central midfielder.
The €35 million that Manchester City splashed out on the Brazilian may seem a little on the steep side considering that he is 28 years old but, having made second-choice stop-gap signings at the back end of last summer's transfer window, the club were in no mood to beat around the bush this time around.
Fernandinho began his career at Atletico Paranaense, joining the Brazilian outfit a year after they lifted the league title in 2002. In his first year at the club, he was named the best young player in his state. In the following season he represented for the Brazilian youth team, playing a major role in their 2003 World Youth Championship triumph.
His real breakthrough came in 2004, though, when, as part of successful Paranaense side, he scored nine goals, helping his side to second in the Brazilian Championship. The following season, he led his team to the Copa Libertadores final.
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His energy in the middle of the park, in particular, made him stand out. His performances impressed Mircea Lucescu, the eagle-eyed Shakhtar Donetsk manager, convincing the Romanian to shell out €8m to bring him to the Ukrainian league.
Ukraine is a long, long way away from the comforts of Brazil so Fernandinho's decision to move to the Donbass Arena highlights his ambition to make the most out of his career.
This ambition was also clear when he decided to join City. The Brazil midfielder waived €5m worth of assorted payments owed to him by Shakhtar in order to force through a move to the Etihad Stadium.
City still ended up paying more than they hoped but Fernandinho's personal sacrifice to manufacture a move to the Premier League accelerated a transfer that had looked like it might stall. The 28-year-old cited securing a place at next year's World Cup in Brazil as his motivation behind the move.
Despite five international caps, the midfielder has struggled to establish himself in the Selecao's setup. The reputation of the Ukrainian league worked against him, despite the fact that he himself and Shakhtar on a whole were making a real impression in Europe.
The Brazilian debuted for Shakhtar in the summer of 2005 and the reality of life in Ukraine hit him as he lined up against Krivbass Krivoy Rog but, only three years later, Fernandinho was named the club's and the Ukrainian league's Player of the Season in 2008.
His career highlight to date is likely to be Shakhtar's victory in the Uefa Cup final in 2009 but he also has pedigree in the Champions League. He scored for Donetsk in wins against Chelsea and Barcelona while also finding the target in the Europa League against the likes of Olympique de Marseille and Tottenham.
Together with Shakhtar, he won the Ukrainian Premier League title six times, the Ukrainian Super Cup three times and the Ukrainian Cup four times.
A domestic treble in 2011 spelt trouble for the Ukrainian side because it was at this point that players of the calibre of Fernandinho realised that this is as good as it can probably get at the Donbass Arena. Despite a couple of good runs to the knock-out phases of the Champions League, the Ukrainians have continually fallen short against the continent's big hitters.
Fernandinho could the missing link for Manuel Pellegrini's new City. The signings of Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell will be long forgotten about once the Brazilian takes to the midfield alongside Yaya Toure.
His ability to perform short, sharp passing interchanges has been honed at Shakhtar and should come in handy in tandem with the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva. His lung-busting energy, similar to that of his compatriot Ramires, should liberate Yaya Toure in the attacking third while his tough tackling will fill the gap in front of Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic left by Nigel de Jong's exit a year ago.
On the face of it, the fee paid to Shakhtar is nothing short of astronomical for a 28-year-old who has tested himself only in Brazil and Ukraine but you only have to see Fernandinho in action to tell that this could perhaps be the signing that helps City wrestle back the Premier League title and, perhaps even more significantly, finally help them make a good run in the Champions League.
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