Bruno Fernandes – the creative surrounded by mediocrity

It has been an abysmal season for Manchester United in the English Premier League, leading to much speculation over the future of many senior players at Old Trafford.

However, when captain Bruno Fernandes was linked with a switch to Bayern Munich last week, the club were quick to leak stories insisting their intention was to build a new project around the Portuguese.

Under the directorship of new part-owners INEOS, United have begun an overhaul of the club off the pitch, with new board members, CEO, Director of Football and Technical Directors all agreed before the end of the season. The playing staff is likely to be similarly dismantled, with one well-sourced report claiming no senior players are deemed unsellable.

Fernandes is an exception to that, according to the Athletic, who through respected journalist David Ornstein clarified the Red Devils have met with their skipper to assure him of his part in their plans. Whether Fernandes, who turns 30 this summer, is as convinced of the new era remains to be seen, but once again the numbers show his importance to his team.

As the Premier League ended on Sunday, Fernandes finished having created 114 chances this season – 10 more than any other player in the division. It is the second consecutive season in which Fernandes has topped the category, following on from his 119 created last season.

Allied to the former Sporting man’s insatiable desire, not to mention 10 Premier League goals himself (15 in all competitions) it is easy to understand why many United fans exclude the midfielder from the harshest criticisms of the team’s performance this campaign.

Fernandes has not been at his best this term, but a base level of creative output makes him someone INEOS are likely to depend on as they rebuild over the summer. United legend Wayne Rooney concurs, telling SKY Sports last week: “You have to build the United team around Bruno. The one player with quality and he’s got fight in him.”

Intriguingly, United were today linked with a possible move for Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca, in the event they opt to dispense with current boss Erik ten Hag. Many names have been associated with the post should INEOS decide on a change, but it is the first time Fonseca, whose contract at Lille expires in July, has been associated with Old Trafford.

By @SeanGillen9