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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Fernandinho celebrated “the best possible news” as he extended his stay at Manchester City for an eighth season and promptly set his sights on securing more silverware to add to his sizeable medal collection.
The Brazilian, who has already won the League Cup four times since joining from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, is set to face Manchester United on Wednesday with City, who have a 3-1 semi-final first-leg lead, bidding to become the first club since Liverpool in the 1980s to win the competition in three successive years.
Fernandinho was described by director of football Txiki Begiristain as “one of the best players in world football” and has also won three Premier League titles and one FA Cup with City, becoming an integral part of the first team to post 100 points in a top-flight English season and the first to win all three major domestic trophies in the same campaign.
He said: “It is the best possible news. I have enjoyed every second of my time at City. I never expected to build such a meaningful relationship with the club and the fans, but it has happened, and I am grateful every single day.”
Fernandinho’s previous contract was due to expire this summer, but his new one will keep him at City until he is 36 and he added: “Our fans are unbelievable. I am so happy that I will continue to play for them a year longer. I feel their love and passion and it genuinely helps keep me driven.
“My focus now is on making sure we continue to be successful. My time here has been decorated by silverware, but under Pep [Guardiola]’s guidance we have really accelerated. I want that to carry on for as long as possible.”
Fernandinho spent his first six seasons in midfield but has been deployed as a centre-back this season, a role he is likely to occupy against United, especially as Aymeric Laporte faces a fitness test on Wednesday morning. City are also waiting on Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Mendy, though the winger trained on the eve of the match.
United are missing the injured Marcus Rashford but City manager Guardiola said: “We won 3-1 with him there.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side face an uphill task but Guardiola insisted there was no danger his team will take victory for granted as he warned they are capable of springing an upset and securing a second victory at the Etihad Stadium this season.
“Never was I complacent with my team, never,” he added. “It is Man United. The team is good. They have incredible weapons and an enormous squad and quality there. I have incredible respect for their history, for Man United as a club. They can do it. We have to make the right approach, take the right decisions in the way we want to play and try to reach another final. That is our goal.”
City’s three strikes at Old Trafford will not have an added value in a competition without the away-goals law, but Guardiola, who has been omitted from Europe by Tottenham and Monaco on that ruling, hopes to progress in altogether simpler fashion.
“We are out three times of the Champions League on goal difference so maybe this time it will be better,” he added. “We know what we have to do. We start with 2-0 [a two-goal advantage] but the best thing to do is to try and draw the game or win the game.”
Guardiola hopes to see a sell-out at the Etihad Stadium after there were some empty seats for Sunday’s 4-1 FA Cup win over Fulham and added: “The only reason I do my job – it’s not for the title – it’s to go to the Etihad Stadium and see it absolutely full and all the people together. We want to do something for our people.”
Updated: January 29, 2020 08:04 AM
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