It is now well-documented that Fernandinho’s absence has coincided with Manchester City’s recent slump in results.
Is the Brazilian battler the difference between Pep Guardiola’s men and winning the League?
A close look at the statistics makes frightening reading.
Staggeringly City have lost four of 14 games without him, compared to seven of 82 with Fernandinho during Guardiola’s reign.
The statistics will be a huge concern for Guardiola; what the Spaniard can do about it is another thing altogether.
The City boss has already tried John Stones, a natural centre-half, and Ilkay Gundogan, an attacking midfield player, in the role to no avail.
He really does not have a like-for-like replacement.
The leggy Brazilian offer a unique combination of assets that are the key to his importance.
Fernandinho covers the centre-halves and protects the full-backs with a disciplined positional sense that is unique.
You rarely see him lose a runner or a 50/50 duel.
His height, pace and physicality are all also key factors when you consider how many diminutive players City have.
Fernandinho’s skills are not just defensive though; offensively he offers an excellent range of passing and accurate shooting from range.
His nonstop running gets him into advanced positions, enabling him to create opportunities for others.
The City stalwart plays the pivot defensive midfield role as well anybody in the Premier League.
Fernaninho also adds goals to his games, not something many defensive midfielders are capable of.
So what does Guardiola do?
He could try Kevin De Bruyne in this role as he is probably the most-natural fit.
But, the Belgian offers so much offensively that this could be a waste of his talents.
With Fernandinho approaching his mid-thirties, Guardiola should be look for a long-term replacement.
Fernandinho’s importance to City cannot be understated and keeping him hit and available will be critical in the champions catching Liverpool in this season’s Premier League.