Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl are among the midfielders under consideration as Manchester City prepare for life after Fernandinho, Goal understands.
City will move for a deep-lying midfielder in the summer, when Yaya Toure will be allowed to leave the club as a free agent.
Fernandinho has become a key man in the middle of the pitch for Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders, and Goal revealed this week that he has already signed a contract extension .
But, with Fernandinho aged 32, and with Toure leaving, Guardiola has long been planning to bring in reinforcements for the role.
The Catalan admires a number of Shakhtar players, having faced the Ukrainian side in the Champions League twice this season.
Brazilians Bernard, Taison and Marlos have all impressed City, but it is their compatriot Fred, 24, who is being considered more seriously.
Dortmund’s Weigl, 22, is also a long-term Guardiola favourite, and was linked with a move to City in 2016 as the Catalan prepared for his first season at the Etihad Stadium.
City have wrapped up deals for Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva long before the past two summer transfer windows have opened, and are hoping to bring in a midfielder as quickly as possible next summer, though it is understood that no final decision on who they will pursue has been made.
Guardiola signed five new players this summer and wanted to bring in as many as nine, but none of them were deep-lying midfielders.
Club chiefs decided at the start of this year that they would prioritise strengthening in defence and in goal ahead of the current campaign, before looking at the midfield in 2018.
Had they got their way in the summer they would have signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton and Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, among others.
Those moves did not materialise but the Blues will try again for Van Dijk in January, and hope to sign Alexis on a free at the end of the season.