Fernandes has proven Solskjaer right after three years at Man Utd

Bruno Fernandes signs new Man Utd contract

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On this day back in 2020, Manchester United completed the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon. In the immediate aftermath of the deal being wrapped up, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed the player and highlighted his leadership skills. And with the midfielder dazzling under Erik ten Hag, it appears the Dutchman’s predecessor has been proven right.

United actually first explored signing Fernandes back in the summer transfer window of 2019.

However, they initially had doubts about recruiting the Portugal international – with scouts believing he took too many risks in possession.

In the end, though, United decided to perform a U-turn. Solskjaer, aware his side required a playmaker to take them to the next level, opted to get the deal done.

Upon landing Fernandes, Solskjaer confidently backed the midfielder to shine. What’s more, he also identified his leadership skills as one of his main strengths.

“We have been tracking Bruno for many months and everyone here has been tremendously impressed with all his attributes and what he will bring to this team,” said Solskjaer.

“Most importantly he is a terrific human being with a great personality and his leadership qualities are clear for all to see.  

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“Bruno’s goals and assists stats speak for themselves, he will be a fantastic addition to our team and he will help us push on in the second part of the season.

“The winter break is coming at a perfect time for us to integrate Bruno into the squad and for him to get to know his team-mates.”

Solskjaer was right.

Fernandes initially hit the ground running at United, with his goals and assists firing them into the Champions League against all odds.

Then, in the 2020/2021 season, Fernandes scaled new heights – netting 28 goals across all competitions to become the talisman of the team.

To put that number into perspective, no individual has scored more goals for the club in a single campaign since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

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Many expected Fernandes to get even better when United re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021, beating rivals Manchester City to the veteran’s signature.

But the pair, despite being international team-mates, never clicked at club level.

Fernandes’ development was stunted for 18 months, with the midfielder appearing to be impacted by Ronaldo’s presence at the club.

Indeed, he was unable to prevent the sacking of Solskjaer – who lost his job in November 2021 after overseeing an alarming, and fatal, dip in form.

And Fernandes also toiled under Ralf Rangnick, too, with the German never looking up to the job in the Old Trafford dugout.

Fast-forward to now, however, and the 28-year-old is operating at the peak of his powers again.

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It seems only a matter of time before Fernandes officially becomes club captain over Harry Maguire, having donned the armband throughout the majority of the season.

Take his last 10 games for the club.

Fernandes has returned to his goalscoring and assisting best, resembling the player he was when he first joined the club.

He’s provided assists in matches against Wolves, Bournemouth, Arsenal and Reading.

And he’s also bagged three goals during that time, too, including against Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.

Fernandes is a divisive figure for some. His body language on the pitch can be infuriating, while he’s still prone to overdoing things as well.

But, after three years, he’s more than justified his £47million price tag.

“A few weeks ago he [Bruno Fernandes] was criticised for his performance,” he said.

“I told him to stay calm, that the goals will come and to keep doing what he knows how to do, because it’s important for the team and now he’s on two goals in two games.”

And he added: “I am convinced that if we continue this collective process he will score more. But the basis is always the skills he has.

“And there are not many players who are as good in transition as Bruno [Fernandes].”

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