Manchester City spent the vast majority of their transfer window chasing a deal for the highly-regarded midfield anchor Jorginho, but whilst they were pursuing the Italy international Fulham were busy signing a new lynchpin of their own, namely Jean Michael Seri.
Following months of speculation which linked the Ivory Coast midfielder with a transfer to a whole host of Europe’s most prestigious clubs – including the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal – Seri completed a £25 million switch to Craven Cottage as part of a summer revolution instigated by Slavisa Jokanovic.
Since arriving at Fulham, Seri has started all 4 of Fulham’s opening fixtures in central midfield, scoring an absolute rocket against Burnley and providing a sumptuous assist with a scooped through ball against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
Meanwhile, Man City have started the season without the vigour and intensity which characterised their previous campaign, with a handful of players seemingly struggling for form following a whirlwind 12 months in which they competed on 4 fronts at club level before travelling to Russia for the World Cup.
One of those players is 33-year-old Fernandinho – a man who has consistently delivered the highest standard of performance throughout his career at the Etihad. But he has struggled to reach his brilliant best so far this season with stray passes and a general lack of match sharpness uncharacteristically manifesting in his performances.
With Kevin De Bruyne’s length lay off and the urgent need to provide Fernandinho with support becoming increasingly apparent, City are turning their attention towards Ruben Neves according to Goal.
Following a glowing opening to the Premier League campaign in which Neves played a starring role in Wolves’ 1-1 draw with Manchester City, it’s hardly surprising that interest from the champions is beginning to stir, but there is plenty of reason to suggest they should also be monitoring Seri’s progress at Fulham.
Guardiola’s success at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich was aided by the his midfield pivot’s were asked to play in a free-flowing attacking system. Whilst Guardiola was manager of the Catalan giants, Sergio Busquets was a mainstay in the heart of his midfield as his willingness to sit in front of the defence, break up play and distribute the ball into the final-third became a vital component of the Barcelona machine.
Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso shared the responsibility of anchoring Guardiola’s midfield during his time at Bayern Munich and Fernandinho has assumed that role since he took control at the Etihad. But with Fernandinho’s age to consider, there is a vacancy which is simply waiting to be filled at Man City.
Neves has been touted as an ideal successor but Seri’s carefully balanced combination of forward-thinking flair, tactical discipline and intelligent understanding of the game certainly make him an ideal candidate to take on the responsibility of succeeding Fernandinho and becoming Guardiola’s next Busquets-like figure.
Seri’s impressive start in English football suggests that Fulham have secured a bargain acquisition after parting with £25 million for the 26-year-old late bloomer, and if he continues to perform in the same vein there is no doubt he could be worth double that by the end of the season, thus giving the Cottagers an opportunity to make a huge return on their original investment.
With these points to consider, Guardiola should ensure that Txiki Begiristain and his scouting network keep a close eye on Seri’s development at Fulham this season and consider his credentials to succeed Fernandinho.
Manchester City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!