When Brazilian international Fernandinho was ruled out for Manchester City, many neutral observers shrugged. City fans, though, bit their nails: they know how important he is to this Pep Guardiola side. 3 losses in 4 soon followed, and his return to the side has coincided with a mass upturn in results, goals, momentum and quality overall.
For many, he’s the best midfield player in the league – if he’s so important to probably the best side, he must be pretty good. However, the hands of time wait for no man, and in Declan Rice of West Ham United, City might have their replacement
The England/Ireland international, depending on who is eventually chosen, is a fantastic young talent. At just 19, he’s already played 18 games for West Ham and looked assured in most of them. Alongside other young talent already at City like Phil Foden, Rice could be the face of the post-Fernandinho era.
Links with other players, including Frenkie de Jong, have been floating around for some time. The link to Rice is relatively new, but it would make a lot of sense. He’s young, he fits their style of play at City and he is also going to count towards English homegrown quota roles.
Given his immense potential, it would make a lot of sense to go and sign someone like Rice. If Fernandinho is to miss any more extended periods of the season, City simply cannot afford to miss out like they did beforehand. His importance – and the importance of bedding in a replacement to learn from him – cannot be overstated.