The Manchester City fans in the Transfer Tavern are feeling optimistic about both their club’s aspirations for the future due to the mightily impressive form of the remaining stalwarts of the old guard, namely Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho.
Manchester City have undergone one of the most dramatic transformations in the history of English football over the course of the last decade, and some of the key pioneers of the revolution continue to play an indispensable role in the clubs progress. That notion was illustrated in the Carabao Cup last weekend as the trio of Aguero, Kompany and Silva all converted chances to hand Pep Guardiola his first trophy as manager of Europe’s most rapidly rising giants.
However, the injury collected by Fernandinho shortly after half-time represented a notable disappointment on an otherwise perfect afternoon for the club. Plenty of City supporters expressed legitimate concerns about the Brazilian’s ability to succeed in English football when the club parted with £36 million to prise him away from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, but those concerns have been replaced by a combination of awe and admiration throughout a hugely successful spell spanning almost half a decade in Manchester.
Guardiola has a mammoth task on his hands in attempting to identify a worthy successor to City’s Mr Dependable midfield general, but murmurs emerging from Russia might just provide the Spaniard with a target worth monitoring ahead of the summer transfer window, namely Leandro Paredes of Zenit St Petersburg (valued at £16.2 million by Transfermarkt).
The 23-year-old midfielder rose through the academy ranks at Boca Juniors as a youngster before earning a permanent switch to Roma in 2015 following loan spells at the Stadio Olimpico and Marc’Antonio Bentegodi with Chievo. However, Paredes struggled to make a lasting impression in Serie A, and he was eventually moved on to join Zenit St Petersburg last summer after completing yet another loan spell in Italy, this time with Empoli.
Since joining the Russia giants, Paredes has made quite the impression with his combative displays in midfield. Although he is a defensive midfielder by trade, the two-time capped Argentine international has demonstrated a natural ability to influence the game in the final-third by scoring 5 goals and providing 7 assists in all-competitions this season – a factor which makes him an ideal candidate to adapt to Guardiola’s free-flowing philosophy.
Considering Pardes has experience of playing for clubs commanding enormous expectations from supporters at both Boca Juniors and Roma, he should not be overly vexed by the prospect of joining a club which would now consider a 2nd-place finish in the league as something of an underachievement.
Fernandinho has shown little sign of reaching the finish line in his City career just yet, despite the fact he will celebrate his 33rd birthday in May, but City will eventually have to wave goodbye to one of the Premier League’s unsung heroes and replace him with a midfield anchor who can ensure the club make a smooth transition to a post-Fernandinho era. Supporters might consider Paredes a gamble, but with Guardiola’s guidance and education, he could eventually go on to emulate the Brazilian’s glittering career in Manchester.