Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Bruno Fernandes for being a team player for Manchester United and compared his impact to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fernandes has been an excellent signing for United. After joining the club in January 2019, the attacking midfielder has scored 21 goals from 35 games.
His form was one of the factors that helped United make a late charge into the top four last season. In doing so, he earned the right to play in the Champions League – a competition in which he scored a brace in midweek, against Istanbul Basaksehir.
Fernandes showed how much of a team player he is by passing up the chance to score a hat-trick when United won a penalty, instead giving the ball to Marcus Rashford.
It was an example of how Fernandes is putting side before self – which is helping him to make a big impression at United.
In fact, Solskjaer even thinks he has a similar presence to that of another Portuguese great to have represented the club – Cristiano Ronaldo.
The United boss said: “He does have that presence (like Ronaldo). Just look at the results since he came in.
“He is a team player, which is key for us now.
“I wasn’t looking forward to telling Bruno he was resting vs Leipzig, but he took it really well.”
Fernandes will likely play a major role again when United take on Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday. Solskjaer will be without some key players, but will have plenty of options to play ahead of Fernandes in attack.
One of those will be Mason Greenwood, who made his return to action against Istanbul Basaksehir.
The striker has been in the limelight in recent weeks, with Solskjaer keen to protect him. Once again, the United manager had words of praise for the teenager.
“We have got a tradition of helping youngsters develop and go through the ranks,” he said. “As a club we have good tradition and we help players from difficult periods as well as good.”
Asked about the fluidity of his options up front, went further with his support of Greenwood, making a big claim about his future – while also highlighting the strengths of his other options.
“Of course, the game against Istanbul we had the spaces which we thought could suit the opposition. The game suited Marcus [Rashford] and Anthony [Martial].
“Mason can develop into one of the top No.9s in world football.
“Edinson [Cavani] has come in and showed a different way of playing. They are all capable of playing in all those positions.”
January ‘hard to predict’
Attention will soon turn to the January transfer window – a time which allowed United to sign Fernandes last season.
However, Solskjaer did not give much away about whether United would be active again when asked about his forecast for the window this year.
He did, though, admit he was happy with the squad at his disposal – even if their strength in depth is leading to some selection dilemmas.
“Hard to predict the financial situation of other teams,” he said. “I don’t predict a lot of ins and outs, the football world has changed. Depends on injury situations etc.
“I am very happy with my squad, we are getting stronger.
“I have issues every week with an 18-man squad: who do I leave out? I feel I am in a good position.”