Bruno Fernandes is a “box-to-box player” with the “ability to break the line of the defence”, according to former Sporting C.P. boss Carlos Carvalhal, who has warned Manchester United against playing him in the No.10 position.
Big things are expected of the Portuguese midfielder following his €55 million (£56m/$60m) move to Old Trafford during the January transfer window, with an encouraging debut against Wolves at Old Trafford giving supporters a glimpse of the playmaker’s unique talents.
The 25-year-old started the match at the top of the midfield, but dropped deeper in the second half in order to dictate the pace of the match, which ultimately ended 0-0.
Carvalhal, who managed Sporting in 2009-10, believes his compatriot is at his most effective when sitting in as a traditional No.8, due to his passing range and ability to “organise in the last part of the pitch”.
“He (Fernandes) is not a number 10,” Carvalhal told Sky Sports. “He is a midfielder but he has developed that ability to break the line of the defence to score goals.
“He shoots, he assists, the passes and the free-kicks. But he is not a 10, he is an 8. He is a box-to-box player who understands very well the game. He doesn’t just play. He understands everything that happens around him.
“He can organise the team, he can talk, he can give feedback.. He is kind of like a manager on the pitch. He can organise things in the last part of the pitch. He is a really exciting player.”
Carvalhal is currently in charge of Primeira Liga outfit Rio Ave, but he has also enjoyed a coaching stint in the Premier League with Swansea, and feels Fernandes has all the attributes to adapt to the demands of English football quickly.
The 54-year-old manager already considers Fernandes to be among the world’s top players, and believes he is capable of adding a new dimension to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI.
“He has been the best player in the Portuguese league for two years minimum,” Carvalhal added. “He is in that group of players who are among the best in the world.
“Sometimes these technical players, it is their quality in the defensive transition that is a problem in the Premier League. When they lose the ball, they don’t react quickly enough to win it back, but he has developed a lot in the past two seasons.
“When his team loses the ball, he reacts quickly to win the ball back. That is important in England. He is not lazy, he is the opposite. A fighter. He has everything to be a key player.”
Fernandes will be back in contention for a place in United’s line-up when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea next Monday.