Pep Guardiola is confident Fernandinho will sign a new deal at Manchester City – hailing him as one of the greatest players in the club’s history.
The Brazil international, who joined the Premier League champions from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, is out of contract at the end of this season.
There has been speculation this could be Fernandinho’s final campaign at the Etihad Stadium – something fuelled in part by Riyad Mahrez inadvertently suggesting the 34-year-old would follow David Silva in seeking pastures new when the winger took part in a Sky Sports Christmas quiz last month.
Silva’s exit will continue a procession of club greats, after Vincent Kompany bade an emotional farewell last May, 12 and 24 months respectively after Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta did likewise.
But Guardiola has no doubt he wants to see Fernandinho, who has impressed as an emergency centre-back this term, stick around.
“It’s a Txiki [Begiristain, City’s director of football] issue, it’s not my issue,” he told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie against League Two Port Vale.
“Of course I want him to stay. I am so confident [he’ll stay] and I am so delighted about our three-and-a-half years together.
“He does not have to convince me to stay longer. He convinced me on day one, three-and-a-half years ago when we started to work together.
“He doesn’t need to do anything special to convince me. It is just [a matter of] his age, his desire and how he is going to finish the season. Many, many things.
“He knows exactly the opinion we have about him in this club over many, many years. He is one of the greatest players this club has had in its whole history.”
Fernandinho being pressed into repeated service at centre-back is primarily down to Aymeric Laporte suffering a meniscus injury.
The former Athletic Bilbao defender has now resumed light training, having last played against Brighton and Hove Albion at the end of August.
— Aymeric Laporte (@Laporte) January 3, 2020
“Yesterday, for the first time he trained with the team for 10 or 15 minutes. The rest individually and he’s getting better,” Guardiola said.
“He feels good and in the next weeks I think he will complete all the training sessions with us.
“I don’t know when he will be ready. He will dictate, it depends on how he feels. He was more than four months out.
“The day after he trains he cannot [play] 90 minutes. The important thing is he didn’t make a step back in these four or five months, the same cast as with Leroy [Sane]. That’s really good and we are incredibly grateful for the physios and the guys who worked with him during this time.”
Recent injuries to Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones have given academy centre-back Eric Garcia a chance in City’s previous two league games against Sheffield United and Everton, with Guardiola hailing the 18-year-old’s performances.
“He is a guy who doesn’t make mistakes. He is so clever and he is intelligent in his movement,” he added.
“It is not easy for him to play on the left side [of the back three against Everton] because he is right-footed. I am not a nice guy, not giving him the opportunity to play on his right foot, but he played so well.
“He helped us with the problems that we have.”
Ederson has recovered from illness but understudy Claudio Bravo customarily starts in goal for City’s domestic cup games.
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