Champions Manchester City suffered a huge blow in the loss of Aymeric Laporte to a serious-looking knee injury against Brighton on Saturday. A very untimely incident considering he was set to make his long overdue international debut for France this month.

Losing their best defender after failing to replace captain Vincent Kompany over the transfer window potentially harms any title defence.

With John Stones recovering from a knock and Nicolas Otamendi the only fit senior centre back, the Cityzens looked short of options for once.

Well, think again. Laporte was replaced by Fernandinho on the day to see out the game in central defence. This is a position that isn’t totally alien to the Brazilian who filled in across the defence line in Pep Guardiola’s first season at City.

Fernandinho. Image Credit: Manchester City via Getty Images.

The holding midfielder is superb at breaking opposition attacks; possessing a great range of passing, intelligence, technique and work ethic. His injury struggles last season prompted the purchase of Rodrigo from Atletico Madrid and Laporte’s injury opens a significant return to the team which Dinho is relishing.

The 34-year-old could be about to undergo a spectacular positional-change to prolong his career at the very top, now that Rodri has seamlessly overtaken him at the base of City’s engine room.
Guardiola is the perfect manager to oversee that transition, having previously hailed the versatility of one of his most reliable lieutenants.

Despite standing at a modest 5”9, Fernandinho is strong in the air and Rodri can cover up for his colleague in the height department. On closer observation, City’s defence is in no way weaker with Fernandinho’s addition; 41 interceptions, 57 tackles, 69 clearances, 55% duels won and 54% of his aerials won last season will smoothen his transition.

 Quite simply, having two of Europe’s best holding midfielders in a defensive third behind City’s unrelenting high-press is almost impenetrable for opponents.

Fernandinho is set to take on greater importance in the Man City lineup in Laporte’s absence. Image Credit:

Fernandinho’s deployment at centre back might well be another Guardiola masterclass as they hunt a hat trick title. It affords the Catalan a chance to field an extra midfielder in his line-up as he so desires.
Kyle Walker is also an option having played through the centre at the 2018 World Cup.

Although City are losing one of the League’s best centre backs in Laporte, he is being replaced by one of its best holding midfielders in recent years. And pertinently, one of their most-reliable performers on any given day.

Ironically, Dinho bares similarities with Kompany beyond the bald head and exceptional leadership. The Belgian’s thunderbolt of a shot against Leicester which essentially won them the title last season is a Fernandinho trademark.

Manchester City fans just might not miss Kompany as much as they anticipated.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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