Tomorrow (Saturday 30, January) will mark one year since Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon for £47m.
And what an incredible 12 months it’s been for the Portuguese midfielder.
Fernandes has scored 28 goals in all competitions and has provided 17 assists. His goal involvement of 45 is better than any other Premier League since he arrived in England.
In fact, only Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have more goal involvements in Europe’s top five leagues than Fernandes since he signed for .
He won four Premier League Player of the Month awards in 2020 – the first player to win the accolade four times in a calendar year.
Most importantly, he’s almost single-handedly transformed United from no-hopers to title contenders.
Nobody could have possibly predicted the impact Fernandes would have on this United side.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary, Manchester Evening News have dug out some of the comments made by pundits after Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford.
Overall, the reaction was really positive and big things were predicted of Fernandes. But none of them knew what an incredible signing United had just made.
“It means goals, it means creativity, it means vision, guile, assists and chances created,” he said.
“That’s what he brings to the table. He’s a man who’s actually beaten Frank Lampard’s record from midfield in terms of goal scoring.
“I’ve seen him do it for Portugal, too, he’s got the skills to pay the bills, but will he produce for Man United? The guy’s got an appetite to score goals. He’s a player who knows how to create chances.
“Man United have not found it difficult when they’ve had to counter-attack teams, where they’ve found it hard is against teams that sit there and wait, especially at Old Trafford.
“This is where someone like Bruno Fernandes can come in and play a pivotal role for Manchester United, he’s someone who can look for that bit of creativity, that patience around the box, or a screamer from the edge of the box.
“This is what Man United have been missing, especially with Paul Pogba out. I think it can only enhance someone like Paul Pogba.”
“I’ve not got huge expectations of Bruno Fernandes in terms of this next few months,” Neville told Sky Sports. “I think it’ll take him a little time in England to settle in. He’ll need some time.
“But they’ve got a good, quality player into the building. Ultimately we shouldn’t be sat here thinking he’s going to be amazing straight away. Obviously, it’s very difficult to hit the ground running in the January transfer window.”
“This guy has come in for a big fee and we’ll see how it will be. It’s almost a bonus when you get someone in January as it gives them time to acclimatise to the Premier League between now and the end of the season. He is obviously one for the next four or five years.”
“I heard rumours that Barcelona were also interested in signing him, and if that was the case he has shown that he prefers United so he must have seen something he liked. He’s going to play but he is a big money signing and now he needs to justify to the club why he is worth so much.
“He doesn’t need to think about the price and as a midfield player I don’t think he needs to focus on scoring goals, his purpose is to control games, get assists and help his teammates and the most important thing is to get into the rhythm of the Premier League.”
“Fernandes could possibly play in a role further up the field, he looks like he’s got goals in him, like he wants to shoot, like he wants to make goals, so I think it’s a case now of United of just trying to fit the best players in and get them all on the pitch whatever position they play.”
“You look at those stats and it’s the same as Paul Pogba, he needs something in front of him and somebody to run onto things. If they are going to keep playing like that, he is going to slip into that ordinary category as well.”
“I think Fernandes is a bit similar to Scholesy,” Stam said. “He’s always looking to play forward.
“He’s got the ability to score, he’s got a great free-kick, he’s got a great pass. He is always looking to get into certain areas to get onto the ball and be influential in the game.
“Scholesy was a bit more aggressive without the ball, but in football intelligence, he is similar to Scholes.”