Fernandinho has shocked Pep Guardiola by revealing he will leave Manchester City in the summer, with the manager saying this was news to him when asked about the midfielder’s departure.
The Brazilian will end a nine‑year career at the Premier League champions next month because he wishes to return to his homeland and play more regularly.
Fernandinho has made only 11 starts this season, four since the start of the year, and the 36‑year‑old is unlikely to be in the starting line-up for the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Atlético Madrid on Wednesday.
Fernandinho, asked whether he would like to stay another year at City, said: "I don’t think so. Yes, I want to play more; I will go back to Brazil. I decided with my family, which is the most important thing for me. And some people in the club know it."
Yet one of those was not Guardiola. "I didn’t know it," the manager said. "You gave me the news. We will see what will happen at the end of the season. I said many times we will see what happens."
When asked again, Guardiola said: "I said at the end of the season we will talk, maybe it is a family decision, maybe he wants more minutes. I would love to be with him."
Guardiola suggested that Txiki Begiristain, City’s sporting director, may have known but insisted that Fernandinho revealing his future this way was nothing underhand.
"Maybe Txiki knows it and didn’t tell me,” Guardiola said. “I don’t know. It is a surprise for me; I will say to him (Txiki): ‘What happened?’ But I know his (Fernandinho’s) intentions. Another player would do it for his benefit. Knowing Ferna, it will not be this."
Guardiola can comprehend his reasoning for departing. "Absolutely. I want the happiness of my players and absolutely we are going to play tomorrow for him and give him the best farewell moment, reaching again the semi‑final of the Champions League and try to go through again."
"I understand the players want to play, it is completely understandable. Not just because he is 35 or 36. Look what happened with Ferran Torres: he wanted to play so joined Barcelona. I understand Ferna wants go back to Brazil, with his father and mother there, and I am pretty sure the club is going to help him do what he wants."
Fernandinho later tweeted: "I was 100% honest and spontaneous in answering that question at today’s press conference. But anyone who knows me also knows that my greatest honesty is with Man City and my duties as team captain."
City hold a 1-0 lead against Atlético. "We can be better than the first leg," Guardiola said. "It will be different due to the fact we played here (home) and they were defending deep most of the time. It is not going to happen this time. There are moments we will have to defend. You have to adapt. I said after the first leg: 'You did it perfectly guys.' We are going to try to go through."
Rúben Dias will travel as part of the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury that has ruled him out since the start of last month. The centre-back will not start