The hope is that Manchester United finally managed to get this one right by landing highly-rated midfielder Bruno Fernandes in the January window from Sporting Lisbon. It was about time for the Red Devils to make such a significant move and send a statement that they are still one of the biggest brands able to attract players with undisputed quality from other leagues. The tricks and treats that the Portuguese midfielder can bring are exactly what the Premier League giants are dying for, if he can successfully translate his talent.
Is the attacking midfielder just hype, another flop reminiscent of the Angel Di Maria saga, or will the Portuguese player prove to be an impactful signing along the lines of Kevin de Bryune with Manchester City? Let’s check out what the 25-year-old can bring to the table for Manchester United.
Who is Bruno Fernandes?
Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes was born in Maia, located in the northern side of Portugal, where he joined the youth side of local Primeira Liga club Boavista at the age of nine but did not play any first-team matches for them. However, the basics and the foundational education to become a professional football player was something he adapted very well to develop his learning of the sport at such a fast pace.
At age 17, Fernandes took a major step by deciding to join Italian Serie B club Novara. Being so young, many players in Portugal would have rather stuck around dreaming of an opportunity from clubs such as Benfica, Porto or Sporting, but he chose another route, demonstrating determination.
His range of passing and the ability to score quickly became evident and further improved as time passed on, but the move to Italy was important to learn the tactical approach that paved the way for a professional debut in 2013 with Udinese after just a year. Fernandes stayed there for three years before moving on to Sampdoria where he managed to stir attention at that time from the media when he was chosen to wear the jersey of club legend and current Italy manager Roberto Mancini.
When the young midfielder received a call from his homeland club of Sporting, he signed for the Portuguese club’s second-highest fee in their history (£8.5 million) in 2017. It was from this moment that Bruno marked his name in his home country’s top league.
What has he achieved so far?
Fernandes began to showcase his ability to dominate the attacking area in midfield just behind William Carvalho and Rodrigo Battaglia. He developed into a provider of assists, usually making final passes to striker Bas Dost, along with scoring on his own.
Fernandes converted a penalty shootout in the final that eventually led Sporting win the Taca da Liga – Portugal’s league cup – in 2017/18. The Portuguese club defended their league trophy next season as well with the attacking midfielder scoring a decisive penalty once again.
Interestingly, Sporting managed to complete a domestic double in 2018/19, being able to win Taca de Portugal. For the third time, the final reached the penalties and yes, it was Bruno who scored again.
Despite Sporting not finishing higher than third in the table, Fernandes was crowned the Primeira Liga Player of the Year for both 2017/18 and 2018/19.
When it comes to his international career, Fernandes made his senior debut for Portugal in 2017 and was in the squad that won the inaugural UEFA Nations League title in the summer of 2019, where he was named in the Team of the Tournament.
What will Manchester United get from Bruno?
His numbers speaks for themselves when it comes to scoring and providing assists. With Sporting, the attacking midfielder scored 63 times and provided 42 assists while creating 239 chances in just 134 appearances. Since the start of his 2017/18 season, Fernandes has scored 39 league goals. In the 2018/19 season, his involvement in 33 league goals was higher than any other midfielder across the top leagues of Europe including England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.
His playing style usually revolves around moving around the pitch which gives him the opportunity to create chances, play the final-third key pass, push box-to-box and find gaps to shoot from distance as was portrayed in his debut match for Manchester United in the scoreless draw with Wolverhampton.
Many compare his passing ability to Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, but let’s keep calm and not go that far. Let’s just say he ranks far higher in that department and others than his midfield teammates at United. When it comes to Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, none of them can even compete with the Portuguese shooting, scoring and creating chances.
Fernandes tops the chart as Europe’s most creative young player who made around 60 key passes when he was at Sporting until last month. These 60 key passes came at the rate of one every 24.8 minutes which is more than any player under the age of 25 or those with 10+ appearances in Europe’s top five leagues. Such stats are extremely impressive and there are so many years of football left to play for Fernandes which makes sky the limit.
One more aspect that United are dying for is a strong winning mentality from players, which Fernandes certainly possesses. Many already tout him as the future captain of the English club due to his on pitch leadership skills.
Finally getting the signature of Fernandes and landing him at Old Trafford is a major win for the giant club. Manchester United can expect a player of pure class, one who can actually provide an attacking threat that they were so desperately waiting for. Fantasy managers, keep an eye on Bruno Fernandes.