World Football

Fernandinho remains huge influence at Man City, says Onuoha

Fernandinho’s Manchester City legacy will be different to those fan favourites who have departed the Etihad Stadium over recent seasons but no less impressive.

The veteran defensive midfielder has signed a one-year contract extension until June 2022, which will take him past his 37th birthday.

Speaking after news of the contract was confirmed, Fernandinho said “the job is not yet done” in reference to City’s failure to add a maiden Champions League crown to a third Premier League title in four seasons under Pep Guardiola when they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in Porto.

A haul of 12 major honours overall makes him one of the key figures in City’s modern era and now the last remaining figurehead of the pre-Guardiola era.

Former City centre-back Nedum Onuoha shared a dressing room with the likes of Vincent Kompany and David Silva, who – along with the recently departed Sergio Aguero – are set to have statues erected outside the ground they graced with such distinction.

Fernandinho’s arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 for Manuel Pellegrini’s maiden season in charge puts him in a slightly different category to those stars who ended a 35-year trophy drought with the 2010-11 FA Cup and a 44-year wait for a league title in 2011-12.

“He’s been influential for the club, the amount of games he’s played and his influence to this day,” Onuoha told Stats Perform last month.

“Leagues had been won at the point [he signed] and he was being brought in to reinforce title challenges Those other people have a slightly different legacy because they weren’t at City when City were dominant.

“He came in at a time to try and increase the dominance and improve the dominance. He’s done it, he stayed for a long period of time and he has a huge, huge influence.

“That is something that you can’t speak ill about because it’s very easy for certain players to come in, see a club, feel it out, do well and go somewhere else.

“I don’t think many people off the top their heads could name me a player who stayed at a club for 10 years and didn’t come through their academy.

“So, for anybody who’s stayed that long, it shows the performances have been great, the mentality has been great and they’ve been liked by the club and the fans.

“I don’t think he’ll get a statue but I’m pretty sure at some point people will, when he eventually leaves, people will make it abundantly clear that he was one of the most important players for City in this successful period.”

Very much in keeping with the style of his club and current manager, Fernandinho’s 13,896 successful passes are more than any other Premier League player since the start of 2013-14.

Over the course of that same time period, he has also won the most games (171 – one more than team-mate Raheem Sterling) and – in a nod to his penchant for the dark arts – conceded the most fouls (345) and collected the most yellow cards (52).

Although he was no longer a first-choice starter in 2020-21, Fernandinho has the third-most appearances under Guardiola in all competitions (211), while his influence after being handed the captain’s armband cannot be quantified in numbers but was celebrated as a key factor in City regaining the Premier League and lifting the EFL Cup.

“I’m not sure we can disregard people like Kevin De Bruyne, who’s been there for a lot years, as well Raheem Sterling who’s been there for a lot of years,” Onuoha said.

“There’s a group of players in there who represent the core of the football club at this moment in time.

“Even though they might not necessarily be as vocal in a particular way as Fernandinho is, you know, they still have a voice because it’s their club, it’s their team.

“Fernandinho, because he’s a bit older, he can speak in a different manner. Even if he’d been at the club for a year, he could still talk about all his years experienced elsewhere.

“When you have players who have that type of influence, who understand the game, understand the manager because they’re closer in and age and things like that, it does make a big, big difference.”

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