Pep Guardiola said Manchester City will "play for Fernandinho" against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday after the midfielder caused a shock in his prematch news conference by announcing his decision to leave the club.
Fernandinho, 36, told reporters on Tuesday he will not be extending his contract at the Etihad Stadium and plans to leave the club and return to Brazil in the summer. Asked moments later about the revelation, Guardiola said he had no idea about his captain's decision but said the team will be doing everything in Madrid to take another step towards the Champions League final in Paris in May and give Fernandinho a fitting send-off.
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"Oh," Guardiola said after being told about Fernandinho's decision. "I didn't know it. You gave me the news. I didn't know it.
"He's so important for me, but I will talk to him. Maybe [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] knows it and didn't tell me. It's a surprise for me -- I didn't know it.
"We are going to play tomorrow for him. We are going to try to play tomorrow for him and give him the best farewell moment, reaching again the semifinals of the Champions League then after try to go through again."
Speaking earlier at a news conference at the City Football Academy, Fernandinho was asked about his future after nearly 10 years in Manchester. He has been restricted to 23 appearances in all competitions this season and asked whether he would like to sign a new deal at the Etihad, replied: "I don't think so. I want to play. I will go back to Brazil. I decided with my family, which is the most important thing for me."
Later on Tuesday, Fernandinho 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."
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.— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) April 12, 2022
City take a 1-0 lead to the Spanish capital after Kevin De Bruyne's goal in the first leg in Manchester last week. Ruben Dias will travel after returning to training after a hamstring injury but will not be fit enough to start.
"He travels with us, and the rest of them are fit," Guardiola said. "From the beginning tomorrow, no, because he's had one training session after six weeks out. It's a bit premature, but the fact he has come back is incredible."
Atletico were criticised for being too defensive at the Etihad, but Guardiola is expecting a different game plan from Diego Simeone at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday with his team needing to score at least twice to go through.
"We have the intention to win the game," Guardiola added. "I think it will be slightly different from the first leg because they play at home and at home they create momentums, real ones.
"There will be moments when they are so aggressive higher and create problems. We have to adapt and defend in those moments."