Man City hoping Yangel Herrera steps up when Fernandinho retires
But Fernandinho is now 34 and whether he gets another deal when his current contract expires next summer will depend on how he performs this season.
The Blues have been frustrated in their efforts to give another Brazilian, under-23 international Douglas Luiz, his chance to prove himself as he was denied a work permit under strict Home Office rules.
City have finally given up on Luiz and allowed him to move to Aston Villa in a £15million transfer yesterday.
But another player picked up by their South American scouting network is hoping that a good season for him in La Liga could project him into Pep Guardiola’s squad next summer.
Yangel Herrera moved to newly-promoted Granada on a season’s loan yesterday, another severe test after spending last season with relegation strugglers Huesca.
Granada have an option to buy if they do not get relegated, but if he has a good season, City may seek a means of keeping him.
Herrera has gone under the radar since his move from Atletico Venezuela 18 months ago for an initial £270,000.
That is largely because his feet have never touched Mancunian soil.
Hitting the same problem as Luiz, unable to land a work permit, he was instantly loaned out to New York City, where he established himself as a key man and learned at the feet of ex-City star Patrick Vieira.
The former Arsenal and France superstar liked the cut of Herrera’s jib, saying: “He’s a tactically intelligent midfielder who is strong in the tackle and reads the game well. Yangel also has good passing range and spatial awareness, which is crucial for a player in his position.”
The 21-year-old also shone in the Under-20 World Cup, where he anchored the Venezuela team which saw off Germany, Mexico and Uruguay on their way to the final, where they lost to England.
Last season City upped the ante, loaning him to Huesca, where he had his work cut out trying to keep the minnows in the top flight.
He did not manage that, but he impressed and, crucially, has become a regular for the senior Venezuela team, starting three of their four games at this summer’s Copa America, where they were knocked out by Argentina in the quarter-finals.
By establishing himself for the national team, Herrera would qualify for a work permit to play in the Premier League is he applied right now – so, unless his form dips and he gets dropped by Venezuela, he would be clear to join Guardiola’s squad next summer.
He clearly has work to do to achieve that, but he was arguably better than Luiz in La Liga last season, and was one of the team’s heroes as they nearly pulled off a shock result against Real Madrid in April.
He played as an emergency right back in that game and marked former City starlet Brahim Diaz out of the game.
The Blues are clearly testing him, by loaning him to another club likely to be in a relegation struggle, but if all goes well Herrera could get his chance in pre-season next year.