Pep Guardiola insists Fernandinho is not an aggressive player as the Manchester City midfielder prepares to return from his third ban of the season.
The Brazilian has missed City’s last four games, and eight in total this term, after being sent off three times.
The first of those dismissals came after an innoucuous second booking against Borussia Monchengladbach but he then grabbed Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas by the throat and made a wild challenge on Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Having become a father for the second time during his enforced lay-off, the 31-year-old is now set to return to action as City travel to West Ham in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Guardiola said: “He’s not an aggressive player. He’s a tough, intense player, like English football is.
“He is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and when you are one of the nicest guys off the pitch, you are on the pitch.
“What happened against Chelsea we have talked about a lot. The other action – I saw many of them here. We accept the ban, we don’t complain, but he’s not an aggressive guy. He’s an honest guy.
“We played a lot of games without him and I am happy he’s back. Of course he is important for us.”
Top scorer Sergio Aguero is also likely to return at the London Stadium after missing Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round victory at Crystal Palace with a knock.
Guardiola said: “He’s trained with the team, so he is ready.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 31, 2017
City beat West Ham 5-0 on their last visit to the London Stadium in the FA Cup last month, a match which proved to be Dimitri Payet’s final appearance for the London club.
The Frenchman has now joined Marseille after a long dispute with the Hammers but Guardiola would not comment on how Slaven Bilic’s men might fare without the playmaker.
He said: “Of course he is a top player, an exceptional player. West Ham last season played amazing and Payet helped a lot to achieve the Europa League, but what happened internally is none of my business.
“I want to be correct about the situation in terms of the players and the club.”
Guardiola’s press conference to preview the game fell on transfer deadline day but the City boss dismissed any suggestions he could be working on late deals. Indeed, the Spaniard did not even seem to be aware the transfer window was due to close, so little attention was he paying to it.
He said: “We said no. We have enough players, and good players.
“The window is important for the club, for the players, but every weekend I am so sad because I have to leave three, four players at home. While this happens why should we buy players?
“If players leave, maybe we should consider buying another one but today is the last day? I’m happy with these players.”
Beneath first-team level, however, City were active. Left-back Angelino was recalled from his loan at Girona, where he did not feature, and allowed to join Real Mallorca for the remainder of the season.
City are also understood to be interested 19-year-old midfielder Yangel Herrera from Atletico Venezuela, a player who could be loaned out to sister club New York City.