Pep Guardiola has claimed that he was taken aback by Manchester City captain Fernandinho’s decision to quit the club at the end of the season.
The 36-year-old Brazilian has been with the club since signing from Ukrainian Premier League side Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 and has won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and six EFL Cups in 373 total appearances for the club.
He is a staple of the City dominance over English football and is a fan favourite at the Etihad.
However, the Brazilian is ready to call time on his nine-year City career to return to his home country of Brazil in order to get regular game time ahead of the World Cup and his eventual retirement from the game.
Speaking alongside Guardiola at the press conference before the UEFA Champions League second-leg match against Atlético de Madrid on Wednesday, Fernandinho was asked by BBC Sport journalists if he would continue at the Etihad next season.
“I will go back to Brazil. I decided with my family, which is the most important for me,” he responded.
After the presser, the Brazil international put out a post on his Twitter telling his fans that he is serious about leaving City at the end of the season.
“I was 100% honest and spontaneous in answering that question in today’s press conference,” Fernandinho wrote. “But anyone who knows me also knows that my greatest honesty is with Manchester City and my duties as team captain.
“My focus is 100% on winning all the titles we are playing for and I will only talk about my future at the end of the season. Let’s keep pushing!”
Guardiola was asked about Fernandinho’s departure at the press conference and he revealed that that was the first he had heard of it as well.
Guardiola said, “I didn’t know it. We will see what happens at the end of the season. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Fernandinho, I’ve said many times, is so important for me. We will see what happens but, anyway, I will talk to him.
“Maybe it’s a family decision, or maybe he wants more minutes than he has had this season, I don’t know. I will speak to him, of course, but this kind of situation…at the end of the season we are going to talk.”
Fernandinho has played only 23 times for City this season (six Premier League starts) after signing a one-year contract extension with the club last summer to keep him at the Etihad this season.
City currently top the Premier League table and could defend their title from last season, which will give the Brazilian a perfect sendoff.