Bruno Fernandes being hailed as the signing who turned around Manchester United’s fortunes would have been difficult for Paul Pogba to take, according to Nani.
Fernandes has received rave reviews for his incredible performances since arriving at Old Trafford from Sporting CP just over a year ago.
The attacking midfielder has recorded 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances, leading him to be touted as the player who can lead United back to the top.
Former United winger Nani, a four-time Premier League winner, thinks every United squad member would have had to take stock after Fernandes’ stunning impact.
And adapting would have been particularly tough for Pogba, who was previously established as the star man.
Nani feels Pogba and the rest of the United players have adjusted well over the past year to increasingly incorporate Fernandes’ individual brilliance into better team performances and results.
But he believes the connection between World Cup winner Pogba and Portugal international Fernandes must get stronger still.
Nani told Stats Perform News: “There are different [types of] players on the field – you have Bruno Fernandes, a smarter attacking player, and Pogba who can do a little bit of both [attacking and defending].
“Pogba can handle the game a bit for Bruno to go a little bit up [the pitch]. They have to try to have the connection.
“It is not easy, when you [Pogba] are the player for the club, the midfield star, and another player arrives to the team and starts performing so well.
“And then [it is not easy] that everyone starts talking just about the player and, ‘He made the team change, he made everything’.
“All of that could have a little bit of an impact in every head on the team.
“But what I see in the last games, the players adjust to that. They have confirmed [in ther minds] a little bit what Bruno can give to the team.
“And Bruno is part of the team so now they look like more of a strong team.
“So I’m very confident about the next games until the end of the season. I think there will be a surprise to the end of the season because they are still in the Europa League. Let’s see.”
Pogba has just over one year left on his current contract and agent Mino Raiola said in December his client wanted to leave United.
While Raiola later backtracked somewhat during the January transfer window, he insisted he would still push for a transfer at the end of the season, though the club have talked about a new deal.
Nani was asked whether Pogba’s continued presence in the headlines meant he had become a distraction for United.
“At this moment, I see him as one of the important players at Man United,” Nani said about Pogba.
“But I don’t know what he has on his mind, if he wants to leave or if all this news is making some problems in his head.
“I don’t know if he has full concentration on the team, on the games, on the goals of the team.
“I saw him when he was struggling with some injuries and then he came back and started playing, he was improving his performance. He was doing well.
“He was helping the team, but we know Pogba can do much better, he can do much more because he is a top player in this position. He’s not using all his strength, all his qualities.
“But if he wants to stay at the club, for sure he will perform much better very soon. He needs to continue to improve his game, his confidence and try to help the team in the way he can.”
Pogba has been out of action for a month since suffering a thigh injury in the dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton.
While United are unbeaten in seven games without him, four of those contests have been draws, including Wednesday’s goalless encounter at Crystal Palace.
That was their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint-most ever in a season, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.
It is also the first time United have drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions since October 2015, when they were playing under Louis van Gaal.