Manchester City have reached an informal agreement to sign Porto enforcer Fernando, and look set to sign the 26-year-old in the summer.
Reports claim City’s pursuit of the Brazilian-born defensive midfielder, who is rated at £15m, has reportedly incensed Porto president Pinto da Costa, however.
Dragons boss Paulo Fonseca has been instructed to exile Fernando from the first-team squad, but Benfica and a resurgent Sporting Lisbon are ahead of Porto in the Portuguese league.
Manuel Pellegrini saw his Premier League title challenge dented by rivals Chelsea, bringing an end to City’s perfect home record.
With Fernandinho missing for two weeks with an injury sustained in training and Javi Garcia not in Monday’s matchday squad, Pellegrini had to play ageing central defender Martin Demichelis in the holding role against Chelsea.
City could not cope with the counter-attacking threat of Jose Mourinho’s men, but remain favourites to win the Premier League at evens.
Pellegrini also has England international Jack Rodwell available to him in midfield, but the former Everton man is notoriously injury-prone.
Gareth Barry is still on City’s books too, yet he is out of contract in the summer and spending this season on loan at Everton.
City tried to bring Fernando to the Etihad in the January transfer window on deadline day along with Porto teammate Eliaquim Mangala, but the deal fell through.
Fernando, whose full name is Fernando Francisco Reges, has played almost 200 games for Porto in all competitions since joining the club in 2007.
He has been a regular at the Estadio do Dragao, making more than 30 appearances in each of the last five seasons.
Although he recently became a Portuguese citizen, Fernando is only eligible to represent Brazil at international level because he was capped at Under-20 level in competitive matches long before being naturalised.
Fernando has played in both the Champions League and Europa League. Porto are a 16/1 shot to win the latter competition.