It's fair to say that 2012/13 was not a vintage year for Manchester City. The Blues failed to hold onto the Premier League title, eventually falling some way off the pace set by bitter rivals Man United. In Europe, a Champions League group featuring Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund proved too hot to handle. And even a touch of redemption in the FA Cup escaped them when Ben Watson gave Wigan a surprise win in the Wembley final.
It was fairly unsurprising, then, when Roberto Mancini got the axe. The Italian failed to bring the best from a number of his players, with even the side's better performers - David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart - failing to replicate the standards they set during the title-winning season. Chilean schemer Manuel Pellegrini is expected to be confirmed as his replacement in the coming days.
City have been busy in the transfer market too. First came the signing of zippy winger Jesus Navas from Sevilla, for a fee that could rise to around £20million. The Spanish international should be able to stretch the play on the right flank, creating more space for the likes of Silva and Sergio Aguero to work in.
He was joined this week by Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, for whom City paid Shakhtar Donetsk around £30million. In our view, the latter could prove to be one of the transfers of the season. Here are five reasons why:
1. He is a supreme athlete
City fans would have been forgiven for wondering whether the club's medical staff had a season off in 2012/13. Injuries tormented a number of players (Micah Richards, Maicon, Jack Rodwell, Sergio Aguero) throughout the season, meaning the side looked tired when spring came around. Fernandinho would have provided some much-needed thrust during the latter months of the season. A midfielder of boundless energy, he can gallop back and forth for 90 minutes all season, rarely flagging. He is far more mobile than Gareth Barry (so are many cupboards, to be fair) and Javi Garcia, so would be able to join the attack on occasion, allowing the overworked Yaya Toure a breather. But unlike other Brazilian midfielders with long-distance-runner physiques (Ramires, for instance), Fernandinho is also a slick passer, meaning he won't be out of place alonside Silva, Samir Nasri et al.
2. He has plenty of Champions League experience
Fernandinho will be most familiar to most English fans from his appearances in the Champions League with Shakhtar. The midfielder has racked up over 40 appearances in the competition, playing a major role in the Ukrainian side's progression from wildcards to regular faces in the knockout stages. This experience, of course, will be enormously useful in a City side relatively light on continental experience. If the Blues want to improve upon their poor recent Champions League showings, Fernandinho could be the key man.
3. He scores goals
He may not be an out-and-out attacking midfielder, but Fernandinho is no slouch in front of goal. The Brazilian has scored over 50 times for Shakhtar, including 13 in official UEFA competitions. Before that, he averaged a goal every five games in his homeland for Atletico Paranaense. While shoots well from range, many of his goals have come from late runs into the box, his fitness levels allowing him to arrive in dangerous positions as matches wear on. Yaya Toure may have some competition in the goalscoring charts next season.
4. He still has something to prove
Despite being a seasoned campaigner in Europe, Fernandinho has yet to make his mark for the Brazil national team. Called up on a handful of occasions over the last few years, he has slipped down the pecking order since Luiz Felipe Scolari took charge of the Seleção, with the likes of Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho and Fernando making ground. He may see the move to City as the perfect platform from which to restake his claim; Brazil is fanatical about Premier League football, so he would be hard to ignore if he can inspire City to another title tilt.
5. He's the right age
Fernandinho is no youngster: at 28, he should be in his prime and able to adapt immediately to Premier League football. While the fee City paid may look a little steep given his age, he should have four or five years of top-level football in him. His signing can be viewed by a statement of intent from Man City, who last year watched Sir Alex Ferguson splash a similar fee in the older Robin van Persie and reap the rewards. If Fernandinho can make anything like the same impact, it will be money well spent.