Bruno Fernandes epitomises the quality Manchester United need to become “the most unstoppable team in the Premier League”, according to Nani.
Fernandes has proven to be a stellar signing for United, the Portugal midfielder wowing with his performances since joining from Sporting CP just over a year ago.
He has 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances ahead of Sunday’s derby showdown with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
And Nani is delighted to see his compatriot shining at Old Trafford, with the ex-United and Sporting winger insisting Fernandes can help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side overhaul City – if his team-mates can rise to his level.
“I’m so happy to see what he’s been doing at Man United, because we had some conversations when we played together at Sporting and in one of the conversations it was to advise him to go to Man United instead of going to another Premier League team, and I’m so happy because we can see he has been performing fantastic,” Nani told Stats Perform News.
“He has been a part of every goal of the team. He has been pushing the team to go get the results. When Bruno Fernandes doesn’t appear, you have [Marcus] Rashford, you have other players, they have quality, but you don’t see a player with the same attitude as him, with the same desire to go and make the same quality of passes.
“And if you don’t have Bruno, it’s very difficult to have another one. So in Man City, if Bernardo [Silva] is not there you have [Joao] Cancelo, if you don’t have Canelo you have [Ilkay] Gundogan, you have many players who have more confidence and can make the same impact in the game.
“So at Man United you have players with so much power, maybe better than City I believe, much better than City, but they appear sometimes, and we want them to appear in these games.
“When they appear every time in these games, we will be the most unstoppable team in the Premier League. I’m so confident in that.”
United will need to shrug off their recent malaise, which has seen them endure three goalless draws, with even Fernandes showing signs of fatigue in Wednesday’s stalemate at Crystal Palace.
It was the 24th league match in which the 26-year-old completed 90 minutes for United but the first time he failed to attempt a shot at goal.
Fernandes’ 15 top-flight goals this term have come at a rate of one every 153 minutes, with his total exceeding his xG (expected goals) of 11.89.
He compares favourably with City’s man-of-the-moment Gundogan when it comes to creativity, with 10 assists to the German’s one. Furthermore, Fernandes has an average of three chances created per 90 minutes, while Gundogan has 1.6.
It is nonetheless a huge task that faces United this weekend, with City unbeaten in 28 games in all competition – one shy of a club record.