Bruno Fernandes has almost singlehandedly transformed Manchester United’s fortunes since his arrival at Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon this time last year.
His ability to pull the strings from the midfield has catapulted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to the top of the table, which will rub salt in the wounds of those who once courted the Portugal international, namely Premier League rivals Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
But their over-reliance on Fernandes has started to show signs that it is beginning to take its toll on the 26-year-old, whose performance levels have somewhat dipped since the start of the year.
It just wasn’t their day against Liverpool, as Fernandes often took one touch too many, and too many passes went astray. Indeed, he had the sort of game where nothing went his way on an afternoon which was summed up by the fact he curled a near-perfect free kick inches wide, as he lost possession 19 times and only made 20 successful passes out of 33 attempts (61%), which was far below his season average of 76%.
Reports have now emerged over the past week that the Red Devils have reportedly tabled a bid for wantaway Inter Milan midfielder Christian Eriksen – who was once described as a “special” talent by now-Paris-Saint Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino – but face stiff competition from his former club Tottenham.
Of course, some might question whether it is worth such a gamble at face value, given his struggles in Serie A after falling out of favour with Antonio Conte.
However, upon closer inspection, it’s hard to argue why this wouldn’t be a good move by Ed Woodward. He has proven Premier League experience and, perhaps most crucial of all, he has experience of playing in the Champions League.
In the Premier League alone, the Danish international netted 51 goals in 226 outings for Spurs. Whilst his stats since the 2018/19 season are significantly inferior to those of Fernandes, they do share some similar characteristics and traits.
Indeed, both players are capable of unlocking defences in the final third with through balls and often drop deep to pick up the ball and bring others into play. Eriksen, who is two years older than Fernandes, has shown a willingness to drive into the box and create chances, as he is currently averaging 2.5 key passes per match in the Champions League, which is only slightly less than his Portuguese counterpart (3.3).
Able to play in the centre, on the left or on the right of the midfield, there’s no doubting the fact that Eriksen’s ability to play anywhere across the midfield would be an added bonus for Solskjaer. His £300,000-per-week wages, however, may be prove to be a sticking point.
AND in other news, Manchester United still want to sign Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen…