The former Blues player has praised the Brazil international for living up to his hefty price tag.
were wise to snap
up, when the 35-year-old has proved those who questioned his £34 million ($45m) transfer bill wrong.
In the summer of 2013, when the South American joined the Blues, doubts were raised as he had been in Ukraine for eight years and many couldn’t take in that amount of unknown quantity.
However, Fernandinho has marked his time at the Etihad Stadium as a legend, appearing in 320 games for City, winning threePremier League
titles, and has been given the captain’s armband this season.
Zabaleta admits that the Brazilian will always be remembered as the Blues’ legend: “
Fernandinho is like a fine wine. He gets better as he gets older.
“He’s always been really physically strong, but when he’s on the field he brings that leadership and experience to the team.
“His positioning is always good; he can tackle and his distribution of the ball is always excellent.
“OK, maybe he has lost a yard of pace, which is quite normal for a player who is 35, but playing in midfield or at centre-back, you don’t really need that kind of pace.
“He can protect the back four as well as anyone in the Premier League, especially when he plays alongside Rodrigo and he is still a very important player for City.
“He’s also a really nice guy and, for me, one of the greatest signings City made during my time at the Etihad.
“It’s funny, back in 2013, £34 million for a player who was relatively unknown outside Ukraine probably raised a few eyebrows at the time.
“But for what he’s given and for all the trophies the Club has won during his time makes the fee look like excellent business.
“He is always positive and is such an important influence on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“He is not afraid of anything and always plays with total commitment.
“In a 50/50 challenge he will never give anything but 100% and I love players like this.
“In the Premier League, you need players like that if you want to be successful but he has so much to his game and can even score great goals from outside the box.
“He is also happy to do what I call the 'dirty work' – winning the ball back, breaking up play or starting moves from the back and he is someone I loved to have as a team-mate.”
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