Why Bruno Fernandes should be the summer transfer priority for the Red Devils
Securing a Champions League spot is the main objective now for Manchester United. It has been an underwhelming season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, and they need a squad rebuild in the summer to challenge best teams in England and across Europe. The board members should meticulously plan and target the players they want to recruit in the summer window.
The midfield of Manchester United is a significant cause of concern for them. They have failed to provide a bridge between the attacking and defensive phases. It has lacked the balance and required thrust to run the game. Paul Pogba is the only attacking outlet in United's engine room, and they struggle to generate chances when he is man-marked.
Bruno Fernandes: A look back at his season
Bruno Fernandes' stellar performances for Sporting CP have caught major eyeballs of many European giants. The Portuguese has scored 28 times and registered 15 assists this season, earning him the nickname "Portuguese Lampard". He can provide an added creative vigour to United midfield which looks limited beyond Paul Pogba.
Sporting Lisbon knows about the rising interest in the midfielder and swiftly marked a release clause of £70m. United should begin the negotiations early to avoid the late haggle when other teams start bidding for the player.
Is Bruno worth £70m?
Bruno Fernandes is a playmaker, capable of playing as a defensive shield or in a box-to-box role. He is a technically sound player, helping him retain the ball in tight spaces and combine with the attackers. United's strike-force lacks connection from midfield and drop deep to receive the ball. Fernandes possesses all the necessary qualities of providing a nexus between the attackers and quarterbacks.
Red Devils have struggled to create chances against the team who defend in low blocks. United lack the required purpose and energy while moving the ball. Bruno is a twinkle-toed operator, producing deft one-touch passes to his team-mates. His brisk link-up with other player accelerates the team's play and aids in breaking down the opposition defense. The midfielder dribbling skills help him draw 2.5 fouls per game in the league. Bruno could provide the much-needed urgency in United's build-up phase.
The 24-year-old is a talented passer, using his vision to produce immaculate pings through the lines. He averages 3.1 key passes per game and has recorded 11 assists in Liga NOS this season. United have lacked incisive passing in the last third and Portugal national looks an able candidate to provide those final balls.
Sporting Lisbon skipper owns sublime goal-scoring instincts, regularly finding vacant spaces in the dangerous areas and not afraid of taking a shot on goal from distance. His tally of 28 goals is the highest by a central midfielder, surpassing Frank Lampard's previous record of 27. Bruno is deceptively brisk and uses his pace to fox his opponents and arrive in the threatening areas quicker than others. His movement off-the-ball help him reach the end of his teammates' final passes.
The darting runs of Bruno around the penalty area could provide a new dimension to United's attack while supplying the strikers. Ole Gunnar should eye him as a long-term replacement for an ageing Juan Mata.
Bruno Fernandes contributes defensively in addition to his attacking flair. He has made 1.8 tackles per game in Portuguese League this season. The combination of adroitness and tenacity in Bruno's game underscores his wide-ranging ability and making him well-equipped for the modern game.
Sporting deploys a flexible formation, alternating between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. United play in a similar shape and accommodating Bruno in their system will be easier. Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to work hard and play with intensity, and the Portuguese looks suitable to Ole's philosophy. The Norwegian must track down Bruno's progress as he seeks a rebuilding job in the summer.
Several rounds on Twitter suggest that United are interested in purchasing the player.
Bruno Fernandes' playing style has drawn comparisons to the legendary Rui Costa. When asked about the similarities, he said,
"[Rui Costa] was a player I idolised; a reference for me. He had an incredible career and he only needed to win something with Portugal, but I think I need [to achieve] a lot to be like him, [the comparison] isn't fair."
He should win prestigious trophies to justify the analogy. Manchester United will provide a clear path to Bruno in achieving greater heights in European football.
Maia born midfielder is a set-piece specialist, boasting a superb free-kick technique and a unique style of taking penalties.
Bruno Fernandes looks set for a move away from SCP this summer, and his finesse could answer all the questions arising from the United midfield. It will take a significant amount of money to prise him away from Sporting. A hefty price-tag of £70m-£80m looks decent in today's inflated transfer market for a player of his calibre and United should prioritize his recruitment in the summer.