By Mark Walker, PA
Manchester City club captain Fernandinho has announced he plans to leave the club at the end of the season, with boss Pep Guardiola seemingly taken aback by the news.
Fernandinho, who joined City from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, has not been a regular starter this term and is out of contract in the summer having signed a 12-month contract extension last year.
Speaking before Wednesday night’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Atletico Madrid, the 36-year-old former Brazil midfielder said he would not be staying for a 10th campaign.
Asked if he expected to still be at the Etihad Stadium next season, he said: “No, I want to play regularly. I will go back to Brazil. I decided with my family, which is the most important for me.”
Guardiola expressed his surprise at Fernandinho’s announcement when he appeared after his player at a press conference.
The City boss said: “Oh! I didn’t know. You give me the news. I didn’t hear it. We will see what happens. I don’t know what will happen. He is so important. I’ll ask him.”
He continued: “At the end of the season we talk. Maybe it’s because of his family. I would love it (if he stayed). We will talk.”
Fernandinho most recently started a game for City in the home Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon in early March, but Guardiola said his club captain had continued to play a key role.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 12, 2022
Guardiola said the 36-year-old Brazilian, who made his last Premier League start against Norwich in February, has been “an incredible player for City”.
“The role he plays this season – I like the people who behave behind the scenes,” Guardiola said.
“I know what he has done, behind me, he handles many of our players and stars for the benefit of the team.
“I praise him and he was here when I arrive. Raheem (Sterling), Kevin (De Bruyne), John (Stones), a few players. We know him well, from day one to now always here.
“An incredible player for Man City. There are things nobody knows but I know exactly.”
City hold a slender 1-0 lead over Atletico thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s goal in the first leg as they bid to stay on course for the treble.
Guardiola revealed defender Ruben Dias had returned to training and will be travelling with the squad, and he has no new injury or suspension problems.
The Portugal centre-half has been sidelined since early March due to a thigh injury.
Guardiola said: “Maybe (he will play on Wednesday), I don’t know.
“He makes one training session and six weeks off… The fact he’s back is incredible and we have a big schedule until the end of the season. Everyone will be important.”