There has been a great deal of hype over the last few weeks about the possibility of Bruno Fernandes joining Manchester United. I’ve seen countless articles on a deal being completed, then not completed, then pending, and now the deal is off… sort of…
As a Manchester United fan, I came to realize a long time ago, I don’t believe anything I read when it comes to signings until it is announced by the team, and the player is holding up our shirt. Even then, I sometimes feel that I am still not entirely convinced…
Anyway, I have been reading and hearing a lot of opinions on whether or not Fernandes would even be a good fit at Manchester United in the first place. I decided to dive into that conversation and take a look at both sides of the argument.
He Fills a Huge Need: Anyone who follows the team this year can clearly see United have so many needs all over the pitch. The biggest of those needs has to be the creative number 10.
During every United game, our forwards are making great runs, but we have no one that can get the ball to them and give them a chance to finish. Fernandes is the type of player who can step right into that spot from day one, and help unleash the pace and talent that we have up-front with the likes of Rashford, Martial, James and Greenwood.
Productivity: Fernandes is currently in his third season for Sporting CP, and has increased his production on the field during his tenure. During his first season, he was able to produce a 0.28 goals per appearance average. This average jumped up to 0.62 goals per appearance the next season, and he seems to be on pace for much the same this year.
What is even more exciting is his assist average. His first year in the league, he only had a 0.09 assist per appearance rate. This climbed to 0.33 the next year, and he is currently on course for 0.43 assists per appearance this season. This is kind of productivity that we are in desperate need of at Manchester United.
Leadership: Another added bonus that Fernandes would bring to United is leadership. He currently wears the captains armband for Sporting CP, and if you ever seen him play, it’s obvious that he is the field general. He is constantly pointing and giving direction to his teammates, and plays with an emotional passion for the game.
This is something that would be welcoming for United. Other than McTominay, and more recently Williams, United lacks those type of leaders that bring a edge to the team. He even gets the occasional red card, which in my opinion, isn’t a bad thing. I believe that this would also help prevent some of our lackluster performances against lower opposition.
Reliability: This is probably the most exciting of all the attributes that Fernandes would bring to the team. Each week, it seems that United have half their team out of the lineup due to injury, and Fernandes seems to have an incredible ability to stay healthy.
To my knowledge, he has only missed ONE game in his career due to injury, and even that was back in 2017 because he had the flu! Another statistic that makes this even more incredible, is how much he gets fouled. This season alone, he has been fouled 43 times in only 16 league games. There is definitely something to be said for his ability to stay on the field.
He’s not Premier League Proven: The only valid argument that I see as to why this may not be a good move, is the fact that Fernandes is not Premier League proven. He is currently playing in the top Portuguese league Liga NOS. Many players take time to adjust to a new league, and it may take up to a year or so for that adjustment to take place.
Fernandes may be doing incredibly well for Sporting at the moment, but who’s to say that this productivity will seamlessly transfer over to the Premier League. Take Fred for example. He had to make the adjustment coming from the Ukrainian Super League to the Premier League. Some fans were ready to write-him-off as a bust earlier this year, and now he seems to be settling into his role, and playing well.
United need players to come in and contribute right now. We can’t afford time for a player like Fernandes to get up to speed when we are in the middle of a battle to reach the Champions League. We may be better off bringing in someone who is already in the Premier League, who already knows what to expect week in, week out.
Overall, it is easy to see that the potential benefits clearly outweigh the unknowns. As of right now, United have countless injuries to an already extremely thin squad. Fernandes could come in and play right away and hopefully produce the goals and assists that we desperately need from our number 10, along with leadership and reliability. However, even if this signing had absolutely no downside or potential risks, it all depends on the less than capable Ed Woodward, so don’t get your hopes up United fans.