Pep Guardiola showed Man City transfer window priority in Champions League draw with Sporting – Alex Brotherton

Manchester City’s goalless draw against Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday won’t be considered one of the great Champions League games, but it was unnecessary.

With Real Madrid making a remarkable comeback in the second leg against a typically self-defeating Paris Saint-Germain, City could afford to take it easy after beating the visitors 5-0 in Lisbon three weeks earlier.

City put in a good performance, never really threatened but never exerted themselves to the point of desperately trying to score. All the usual suspects played well, as did 19-year-old Champions League debutant CJ Egan-Riley at right-back, but it was hard to learn much from what was essentially dead rubber.

What Pep Guardiola will have learned, however, is that his number one priority in the summer transfer window shouldn’t involve Erling Haaland.

Fernandinho replacing Rodri was one of Guardiola’s changes to the squad that ousted Manchester United on Sunday, and the club captain turned in a typically professional performance.

At 36, the starting midfielder is nearing the end of his time in sky blue, although the end may not be as close as many of us imagined a few months ago.

After a slow start to the season in which he looked comfortable, Fernandinho looked comfortable anchoring City’s midfield whenever Guardiola decided to rest Rodri.

Against Sporting – admittedly in a game largely played at a slow pace – he excelled, sweeping the ball elegantly down the flanks and diving deep to help John Stones and Aymeric Laporte play out of the visitors’ press. On a few occasions, he created chances with assists, a clear sign that his timing and understanding of the game is always impeccable.

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He completed seven long balls, made three interceptions, three tackles and completed 89% of his passes. Obviously, he’s still good enough to cover Rodri in these games when City can afford to ease off a bit.

On the night Fernandinho became the 44th player in Champions League history to make 100 appearances in the competition, he was also named Player of the Match.

What the captain offers from a leadership perspective will be incredibly hard to replace when the time comes for him to leave.

“He guides and advises experienced players,” Ederson said of his compatriot during Tuesday’s press conference. For young people too, it is invaluable; he was in constant conversation with Egan-Riley on Wednesday evening.

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However, with less than four months remaining on his current contract, no concrete decision on Fernandinho’s future has been made.

“We see at the end of the season, he knows it. Another two or three months ahead. He will sit down with the club and they will make the best decision for the club and him,” Guardiola said after City qualified for the quarter-finals.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether City will target a new midfielder in the transfer window, but the most logical thing to do would be to offer Fernandinho a new contract. This should be the first move City will make this summer.

Do you think City should offer Fernandinho a new contract? Follow the Town The team is ours and Alex Brotherton on Twitter to join the discussion and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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