Bruno Fernandes’ leadership qualities and tactical acumen could transform the end product of Manchester United teammate Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The Portuguese midfielder has been an instant hit at Old Trafford since making the £47million move from Sporting Lisbon in the January transfer window.
Already, he’s justified the big fee with three goals and four assists from just nine appearances in a United shirt and the 25-year-old became only the 12th man to be named Premier League Player of the Month at the first time of trying when he landed the award for February.
Indeed, such has been his early form that Fernandes has even jumped into the top 10 of our Player of the Year rankings list.
But while his individual exploits are impressive, it’s his influence on the rest of the squad which has been just as impressive; Owen Hargreaves hitting the nail on the head when he paid the former Sporting star the ultimate compliment.
United have been lacking direction for much of the season and Fernandes has lifted both spirits and standards with his energy on the training ground.
One immediate beneficiary has been Wan-Bissaka, who United brought in from Crystal Palace last summer in a £50million deal.
The England youngster has gained rave reviews for his defensive qualities and Jamie Carragher recently described him as the best one-on-one defender as a full-back in the world”.
Talking about Wan-Bissaka’s battle with Raheem Sterling in the Manchester derby, ex-Liverpool right-back Carragher said: “Normally – I’ve played full-back and didn’t have the pace of Wan-Bissaka – you would try to get out to Sterling because he’s too quick for me, too good on the ball but Wan-Bissaka is almost like ‘yeah, run at me – bring it on.’
“Sterling is one of the best three or four wide players in the world but Wan-Bissaka’s saying: ‘Come on, you’re not going to get past me.’
“In that position I think any other full-back in Europe Raheem is away because of his pace but even when you actually get past Wan-Bissaka look at his legs coming from nowhere.
“I actually think Wan-Bissaka is the best one-on-one defender as a full-back in the world. I don’t think anyone would get the better of him.”
But while no-one doubts his defensive qualities, the criticism of Wan-Bissaka is that he doesn’t give enough going forward and this is where Fernandes comes in.
The Portuguese international has been a lively presence at United’s Carrington training complex and, from day one, took time out to give special attention to Wan-Bissaka, advising the full-back on how to produce more in an attacking sense.
The early signs are positive and more forward presence from Wan-Bissaka could turn him into the ultimate roving right-back.