When Fernandinho plays for Manchester City their chances of winning increase exponentially, so the theory goes.
There is something distinct about Fernandinho’s ability to blend the role of a ball-winning midfielder and a deep-lying playmaker which Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones simply cannot emulate. Both of the aforementioned players are lacking fundamental qualities to deputise for the Brazilian: Gundogan is short of the nous required to pickpocket attackers in promising positions and Stones, after building his career as a centre-back, is lacking the energy and positioning sense to thrive in front of the defensive line.
That Fernandinho’s return to the starting line-up against Southampton coincided with a dominant 3-1 win was certainly no coincidence, and his impact was timely with a season-defining fixture against Liverpool set to take place at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening.
But City’s over-reliance on Fernandinho could prove to be a narrative which defines their season, adding further pressure on Txiki Begiristain to take decisive action during the January window.
The impact Aymeric Laporte has had since arriving in Manchester proves that a single mid-season addition can bolster the squad without upsetting the balance of the dressing room, and City should use the Frenchman’s success as reason to justify another extortionate transfer plot in the shape of a move for Tanguy Ndombele.
In terms of his suitability to the role of Fernandinho’s understudy Ndombele is about as good as it gets, and at 22-years-of-age he represents a long-term solution to a problem which needs resolving this month if City want to keep their title dream alive.
According to a recent report from Italian media outlet TuttoMercato, NDombele could be available for 60 million euros this month (£54 million) although Lyon are holding out for 80 million euros (£72 million).
In the current market £54 million would represent decent value for a player of Ndombele’s potential, and a club of City’s riches will undoubtedly be entertaining the prospect of forking out for him this month as they look to record back-to-back Premier League titles for the very first time.
Discussion of a move for Frenkie de Jong has also been discussed at length, but Ndombele appears to represent a more like-for-like replacement for Fernandinho and murmurs emerging from Ajax hint that De Jong is edging towards Barcelona.
Ahead of Liverpool’s visit on Thursday, City’s title dream is hanging in the balance. Inflicting defeat on the unbeaten Reds will go some way to injecting a spark back into City’s title bid but even a priceless victory tomorrow night might not be enough to pave the way to top spot if they fail to land a new midfielder this month.
Txiki Begiristian could change everything with the capture of Ndombele.
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