Manchester United are in talks with Sporting Lisbon to sign Bruno Fernandes – but what would the Portuguese midfielder bring to Old Trafford?
The 25-year-old is United’s main creative center-midfielder in January and while the two clubs are currently far apart in their ratings, Sky Sports News has reported that Fernandes wants to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
So what kind of player is he and where would he fit?
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What kind is it?
Fernandes is a central midfielder who has it all.
Creative talent? Of course, the skilled Fernandes has seven assists this season, which places him in second place on the Portugal goal scoring list, while no player has created more than his 55 chances.
Defensive force? Tick - Fernandes can also set foot there. He has won 111 duels this season, the fifth highest total in Portugal’s top flight, and his 12 recoveries in the opposition striker’s third row in a tie.
Threat target? He has too, having scored eight goals this season and recorded the most shots (23) in his division. He scored some real stunners from long distance, but the count of 20 hits from last season in 33 league appearances – and 33 goals in 53 games in all competitions – highlighted his transformation into a dangerous finisher in and out of the box.
With his team in or out of possession, Fernandes has strong attributes across the board.
How do you compare with Man Utd midfielders?
With Paul Pogba sidelined after ankle surgery and Scott McTominay out for a couple of months with a knee ligament problem, Solskjaer is running out of numbers in the central midfield, with only Fred, Nemanja Matic and Andreas Pereira at his layout.
However, if Fernandes were to arrive, he would do much more than simply invent the numbers. It would be a quality addition to the United team, bringing both defensive and offensive traits that were missing, and becoming a regular first team regardless of who is in shape.
Fernandes has passed Fred, McTominay, Pogba and Pereira together this season and also has more assists than that quartet put together. Defensively, only McTominay has won multiple duels.
Obviously, Portuguese Primeira Liga standards are not at the same level as the Premier League and Fernandes will have some adaptations to make. But the signs are that Fernandes has the attributes required to be successful on these shores – and he also has experience of playing outside of Portugal.
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Fernandes rose to prominence in his native Portugal, picking up the Primeira Liga player of the year award in the past two seasons and helping his country win the League of Nations on home soil last summer.
However, Fernandes’ first steps in professional football came to Italy. After leaving the Portuguese team Boavista, Fernandes moved to Novara, near Milan, in 2012 for his first taste of senior football in the second Italian level.
Within a year, the Udinese Serie A team had taken him back. His star continued to grow and after a season on loan at Sampdoria in 2016/17, Sporting brought Fernandes back to Portugal where he has blossomed ever since and has gone on to become an international in Portugal.
Now ready for his next step, Fernandes may be well on his way to the Premier League – and that’s exciting news for Manchester United fans.
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.