Like Liam Neeson, it appears Fernando Reges and Jesus Navas have a very particular set of skills that Pep Guardiola believes will come in handy when he takes over as manager of Manchester City in July. While moves for European great whites Toni Kroos and Paul Pogba have been ruled out, Fernando ‘The Octopus’ and his friend Jesus or ‘pajarito’, meaning ‘little bird’ in Spanish, have been assured of their places at the club according to the latest reports.
Opting to keep the pair, widely regarded as two of our most limited players, instead of targeting the more esteemed names of world football may represent a lack of ambition to some but it is with good reason that they remain in Guardiola’s plans.
The fact we’re even talking about Fernando playing football is testament to the the hard work he’s put in this season. The Brazilian’s first year in England was one to forget – his poor form down to playing “a lot of games with pain” if you ask the man himself – and one that saw the fan base unify to call for the clumsy midfielder’s head. But the turnaround as emphatic. Fernando became a key player for the side in the 2015-16 campaign, performing particularly well alongside Fernandinho in what was an impressive Champions League run. It was Fernando’s positional awareness and appetite for a crunching tackle that helped City to combat the most ruthless of midfields in the competition.
So the lad is a decent tackler and does a sound job of tidying things up in front of the back four, but is that enough for a Pep Guardiola midfield? There’s a general acceptance that the Spanish tactician prioritises his midfields and ensures each player included in it is proficient in retaining possession and recycling the ball quickly; skills one may not attribute to the former Porto man. Fernando, though, has demonstrated that there may be more to his game than meets the eye. No player in the squad with over 20 appearances to their name can boast a higher pass accuracy percentage than the 28-year-old (89%) and out of an attempted 20 take-ons, Fernando completed an impressive 80% of them in Manuel Pellegrini’s last season at the club. Should the incoming manager wish to employ Fernando in a more expressive role on the field, he’d be able to do a job.