Fernandinho's Man City contract is expiring but captain remains crucial to quadruple bid

Fernandinho Manchester City
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The 35-year-old Brazilian has fewer than six months remaining on his contract but still has a big part to play in the 2020-21 campaign

Fernandinho has yet to decide his long-term future but Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has made it clear that the Brazilian has a crucial role to play at the Etihad between now and the end of the season.

Fernandinho's current deal expires in June but he is not thinking about renewals or pre-contract agreements, preferring instead to concentrate solely on helping City's quadruple bid.

That's good news for Guardiola, as the 35-year-old remains one of City's most important players, in every sense.

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Indeed, as well as being an extremely valuable member of the squad because of his versatility, Fernandinho has always been a big influence around the dressing room, particularly in terms of helping his compatriots and Portuguese-speaking team-mates settle in Manchester.

His passion and wisdom are also greatly appreciated by his colleagues, which is why he was chosen as David Silva's successor when players and staff voted on who should take over as captain at the start of the season.

His powers of motivation were tested early in the campaign when a poor start threatened to derail City’s season before it had even begun.

City were in the bottom half of the table with just three wins from their opening eight Premier League matches after a defeat to Tottenham in November.

Without Guardiola or his first-team coaches present, Fernandinho delivered a rousing speech to the squad that included a brutal reality check on slipping standards.

City used the captain's harsh but inspirational words as a springboard. They haven't been beaten since that setback in north London and are now on a 19-game winning streak in all competitions that has seen them progress in three cup competitions and open up a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League. 

Premier League Table GFX

According to Guardiola, Fernandinho's role in the remarkable revival cannot be underestimated, given his influence over his team-mates.

“[Assistant coach] Juanma Lillo said to Fernandinho, 'The locker room and everything that happens must be for you and the captains; we must not be involved,'” the Catalan revealed. "That's why Fernandinho since the beginning was brilliant, on and off the pitch."

Those leadership qualities have led to speculation that Fernandinho’s eight-year spell at the club could end in the summer to pave the way for a move into coaching.

He reportedly has offers from  Brazilian clubs Atletico Mineiro and former side Atletico Paranaense to continue playing,  while City would also like him to stay at the club but in a different capacity. 

Amid all of the speculation, though, Fernandinho is thinking only of finishing the season with a flourish.

“I’ve been focused on Man City,” he told TNT Sports. “I know how much my team-mates need me.

“I made a decision to only decide my future when the season is over. I already had an offer, not to be part of Pep's staff but to be an employee of the club.

“I was flattered, after eight years at Man City and the respect I have gained here, but it is a decision that I put aside.”

City should certainly reap the benefits of a fully focused Fernandinho, as we approach the business end of the 2020-21 campaign that is likely to test quadruple-chasing City's squad to the limit, physically and mentally.

The skipper may not be getting as many minutes as he did during City’s last three Premier League title triumphs – primarily because of the outstanding form of Rodri, who has belatedly got to grips with the demands Guardiola places upon a defensive midfielder – but Guardiola needs him now more than ever, with the team facing potentially 23 more matches before the end of May.

Fernandinho Ilkay Gundogan Man City GFX

This week is a perfect example of how gruelling the timetable could become. Saturday’s lunchtime clash with West Ham comes fewer than 48 hours after City arrived back in Manchester from Hungary following their Champions League victory over Borussia Monchengladbach.

Rotation is inevitable and essential, meaning Fernandinho knows he will be called upon with greater regularity during the remainder of the season.

“He wants to play every game, as he is a huge competitor, but he understands perfectly when he will play,” Guardiola told reporters. "He is an incredible example for all of us and when you have these examples, everything is easier. 

“You reach a certain age where you can no longer pretend to be like you were when you were 24 or 25 – time passes for everyone.

"I'm not the same guy I was at 30 or 37, or when I started being a manager. I am completely different. Football players are the same.

"That he understands this shows me how wise he is. He knows that we will need him on the pitch, and not just a motivator off the pitch. I'm pretty sure that when we need him, he will always be ready to help us."

His performance in last week’s victory over Arsenal and last month's Carabao Cup semi-final victory against Manchester United underlined just how seamlessly Fernandinho can slot back into the starting line-up.

At Old Trafford, United talisman Bruno Fernandes was unable to make his usual impact on proceedings, as Fernandinho shadowed and shut down his every movement.

Always an intelligent expert of the dark arts, Fernandinho's early foul rattled the Portuguese playmaker, and he went onto cap a fine performance with a delightful volley in a 2-0 victory.

Essentially, Guardiola knows that he can always rely on Fernandinho to do a job for him and this dependability will be vital for City in the upcoming weeks and months.

“He is our captain, he is leading us, he is there when we need him,” team-mate Ilkay Gundogan insisted. “He just gives us the right things at the right time.”

Not even Fernandinho knows what will happen in the summer but every at City is certain that the captain will continue to lead by example, on and off the field, between now and the end of the season.

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