In the recent months, talk of a Fernadinho replacement has cooled off, but the fact remains that he is 37 years old and we need to get in a replacement as soon as possible. I understand that Haaland might be the primary priority for the club, but we all know how important a defensive midfielder is for Pep. We have won titles and broken various records even without a striker, but without a defensive midfielder that cannot even be thought about. Pep wants Fernandinho to stay for an another season, but nothing is confirmed yet.
Reports have come out today that City are looking at Sporting Midfielder Matheus Nunes as a potential replacement to Fernandinho. Sporting are said to be commanding a fees of 40m Euros for his transfer. Let us look at all of his attributes and understand whether he would be a suitable replacement for Fernandinho or not.
Style of Play
Matheus Nunes likes to dribble and is very good at getting out of tight situations. I do think that, ability to get out of tight situations is one of the primary criteria used by Pep to shortlist midfielders. He is almost as good as Rodri and the best around in the world at getting out of tight spaces. In fact they say that he is press-resistant. Also, he is one of the most fouled players in the portuguese league. This is an indication that he is always ahead of the game than his opponents. He is very good at smelling danger and his reading of the game is excellent. One thing i like about him is his balance of attacking and defensive style of play. He is proficient at both equally.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Matheus Nunes is said to be an excellent dribbler, which is a rare quality in a defensive midfielder. His excellent dribbling quality means that he can also be played in that box to box role alongside Rodri, specially in matches where Pep needs to play 2 pivots. Concentration and passing are his other strong attributes. These 2 attributes are a given, specially if Pep shortlists you. They are like the minimum pre-requisites you need to have for Pep to even think about you.
His biggest weakness for me is that he has played only in the Portugeese League and the question marks will be over whether he can adjust to the speed and tenacity of the Premier League. Pep likes his defensive midfielders to win the second balls and it is a big question if he can fight against the physicality of the Premier League strikers and compete for those second balls.
Nunes looks like an absolutely perfect midfielder for the Pep system. The only question marks are over his ability to handle the Premeir League. Otherwise there appear to be no glaring weaknesses in his game