Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Manchester City postpone contract talks with Fernandinho as they prepare for Burnley

Pep Guardiola says Brazilian is now his first-choice centre-back

Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, right, has a decision to make as his deal at the Etihad Stadium ends next year. AFP
Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, right, has a decision to make as his deal at the Etihad Stadium ends next year. AFP

Manchester City have postponed contract talks with Fernandinho until the summer, even as Pep Guardiola has earmarked the Brazilian for a key role in stopping Burnley’s aerial attack on Tuesday.

Fernandinho’s seven-season spell at the Etihad Stadium could come to an end when his current deal expires in 2020 but Guardiola has confirmed the converted midfielder is now his first-choice centre-back while Aymeric Laporte is injured and has ruled out going for defensive reinforcements in the winter transfer window.

John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are competing to partner the 34-year-old, with Guardiola explaining: “Right now, yes. That is why he plays. I like ‘Dinho’ playing in that position a lot.”

City will lose captain David Silva next summer when he returns to Spain and vice-captain Fernandinho could also depart. Guardiola added: “David’s confirmed he’s leaving. Fernandinho doesn’t know but it’s normal – the players that arrive at his age and this stage of their lives. I think at the end of the season we are going to decide on the situation.”

Burnley striker Chris Wood has the joint most headed goals in the Premier League this season and Guardiola is wary of the Clarets’ threat from free kicks and corners.

Fernandinho, at 5ft 9in, is one of the shortest centre-backs in the division but Guardiola wants the taller holding midfielder Rodri, who is certain to play with Ilkay Gundogan suspended, to help him.

“Not just Rodri,” Guardiola added. “The dream is to defend high and try and avoid it as much as possible. Burnley are so good in the box.”

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While City did not replace Vincent Kompany when he joined Anderlecht, Guardiola is adamant he does not plan to buy next month as his main targets would not be available.

“I don’t want any players,” he added. “If we cannot do it in summer, we cannot do in January. When [players] come for an incredible opportunity in January for the next four, five or six years, maybe we could think about it but that is not possible.”

City missed out on Harry Maguire in the summer and Guardiola explained: “We could not sign. Nico continued [at City] and we decided to adapt Fernandinho in this position.”

Guardiola, who also reiterated that Sergio Aguero is definitely out of Saturday’s Manchester derby, felt Kompany was vital in securing last season’s 1-0 win at Turf Moor but denied City are missing him, on or off the pitch.

“This group is extraordinary,” he said. “They take care of themselves perfectly and are an incredible unit. Of course, Vincent is an important player and person for this club but he decided to go to Belgium and we have other incredible players to do the job.”

Updated: December 3, 2019 08:18 AM

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