Fernandinho will answer Pep Guardiola’s SOS defensive distress call following the news Aymeric Laporte has undergone knee surgery in Barcelona. The Manchester City veteran midfielder is ready to step into the huge void left by his Basque team-mate, who suffered lateral meniscus damage during the first-half of last weekend’s 4-0 stroll over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Etihad Stadium.
Laporte is expected to be out until early March and Guardiola could yet look to sign another central defender this coming January, with just John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as an established fit pairing in his squad.
Club sources, however, have insisted the Citizens’ boss sees 34-year-old Fernandinho as a “more than capable” back-up option, having earlier discussed the possibility of learning the unfamiliar position with the Brazil international during pre-season.
The samba ace replaced Laporte against the Seagulls and showed all his wily experience to suggest the panic button might not need to be pressed just yet.
Speaking after that game, the manager hinted that using Fernandinho in a defensive role in upcoming games could be the way forwards.
He said: “Fernandinho is a holding midfielder, everyone knows it, me included, but I think he has the conditions to play there [centre-back.] “The problems we have there as a situation, he is going to adapt. He is intelligent, fast, strong in the headers, in the build-up, he has the quality to see what happens in front. He can play in both positions.”
Guardiola refused this summer to meet the £80m asking price for Harry Maguire, who instead joined Manchester United – with a penny now for the Catalan’s thoughts after Laporte’s KO.
The Premier League champions were already a defender down following the departure of talismanic skipper Vincent Kompany, who left to become player-boss at Anderlecht.
Laporte has established himself as City’s best defender since his £57m arrival from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018, leaving a major question mark as to whether it will impact their hopes to retain the title for a third successive year, regardless of Fernandinho’s willingness to adapt for his manager.