Patrick de Paula could be Fernandinho’s successor at Manchester City but South American expert Tim Vickery feels the Palmeiras midfielder could be transformed into a bullish centre-half instead.

Four years after Gabriel Jesus left Palmeiras for the Etihad, one of the most complete central midfielders on the continent could be about to follow in his footsteps (UOL).

Man City scouted De Paula during Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Santos in the Copa Libertadores final.

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And, with the living legend that is Fernandinho not getting any younger at the age of 35, a rangy, energetic enforcer at his best when starting attacks from his favoured number six role looks like a ready-made successor.

But Vickery believes De Paula, who has an £88 million release clause in his contract, could have a bright future in a very different position.

“He’s destined (to play at a high level). He’s quite tall, well-built, a left-footed central midfielder,” Vickery tells talkSPORT (3 February, 2pm).

Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Vickery then compared De Paula to RB Leipzig’s much-admired France international

“(Dayot) Upamecano. I see De Paula in that mould, as a front-forward, aggressive centre-back who can come out and really play.

“I think he’s got real potential.

“You can imagine him from a City point of view being a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.”

De Paula isn’t the only Brazil-based starlet linked with a move to England’s north west.

UOL reports Liverpool have made contact with Fluminense wonderkid Kayki – although president Mario Bittencourt has since admitted he too is on Man City’s radar (Globo Esporte).

“Kayki is billed as a left-footed Neymar but he’s actually a central midfielder,” Vickery adds of a player who could soon spark a tug-of-war between the two Premier League powerhouses.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

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