Bruno Fernandes deserves to be named as Manchester United’s Player of the Season, despite only joining the club in January, due to the impact he has had on his team-mates.
That’s the opinion of ESPN pundit Shaka Hislop, who believes the Portuguese ace has made everyone around him better, and the team wouldn’t be challenging for Champions League qualification if he hadn’t joined.
Fernandes has been sublime since joining the Red Devils for an initial £46.6million in January.
After failing to make the move last summer, he was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top priority target in the winter window.
At one point, it appeared the deal was completely dead, as United and Sporting Lisbon argued over an extra £10m in the transfer agreement.
However, the deal got over the line just before the deadline, and he made an immediate impact in the Premier League, producing three goals and three assists in his first seven games.
And Hislop believes that despite only joining the club recently, there’s a case to be made that he should be named as United’s Player of the Season.
Speaking on ESPN FC, he explained that Fernandes’ arrival lifted the performances of players around him, and sparked an immediate improvement in the team’s form.
Since the Portuguese attacker joined the club, United are unbeaten in all competitions and are back in the hunt for silverware.
They are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and Europa League, and can still qualify for the Champions League this season.
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Hislop explained that a big part of United’s sharp improvement in form has been the form of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba – the latter of the three returned from injury after the season’s three-month break.
Pogba came off the bench against Tottenham and won them a penalty that Fernandes scored, and had a solid game against Sheffield United on Tuesday.
And Hislop believes that wouldn’t have happened if Fernandes hadn’t been in the team, lifting the levels of his team-mates.
“Absolutely [there’s a case to be made],” he said when asked if Fernandes should be Player of the Season. “Never mind minutes played, let’s just talk about impact.
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“Let’s talk about how different Manchester United look with him in their starting line-up to before the January transfer window.
“You can look at the individuals – how much better Rashford looks is down to [Fernandes].
“How much better Martial is, that’s also down to [Fernandes].
“Paul Pogba has come in and has looked a transformed player, none of that happens if Bruno Fernandes isn’t on the park.”