Bruno Fernandes has been backed to replace Harry Maguire as Manchester United’s permanent captain by Rene Meulensteen.
Fernandes has established himself as a talismanic figure at Old Trafford since his €55 million (£50m/$65m) move from Sporting CP in the last January transfer window.
The Portuguese has contributed 15 goals and 11 assists in his first 27 outings for United, adding a much-needed creative spark to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side while leading by example in the middle of the pitch.
The Red Devils have become a far more potent side going forward with the 26-year-old pulling the strings, and his inspirational presence has also been able to bring the best out stars who had previously been struggling for form in Manchester.
Fernandes is set to inherit the captain’s armband for the first time in a Champions League clash away at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, with Maguire nursing a slight knock after a 4-1 win at Newcastle at the weekend.
Meulensteen, who served as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant between 2007 and 2013, believes the ex-Sporting star is the ideal man to take up leadership duties having seen him raise the collective “standards” within the squad over the past 10 months.
“Bruno is an excellent choice because since he’s come to the club, he has given United what they were lacking,” the former United coach told talkSPORT.
“Some urgency, he plays with conviction, he plays with authority, he drives other players on.
“He’s a positive influence every time he steps on the pitch – and he’s not afraid to tell players when they don’t meet the standards. He’s got high standards about himself because you can see if he does miss a pass, he gets annoyed with himself and he will be the same with other players.
“Although he will say it, he’s not a negative person. He’s a very positive influence in the dressing room, players look up to him because he has proved to be such an important player for the team.”
Asked if he can see Fernandes succeeding Maguire as Red Devils skipper in the near future, Meulensteen added: “For me, I can see that because he’s been very consistent.
“He plays every game, his performances are nine out of 10. He always has an impact on the game.
“You want to have players [where you can say], ‘he’s on the pitch, the captain’s on the pitch, he will carry us over the line’.”