Manchester United are close to reaching an agreement with Sporting Lisbon of Portugal to sign starman Bruno Fernandes in a deal believed to be worth around £60m.
Of United’s 10-man in their first-team midfield, this writer identifies two players who would be behind the highly-rated Portuguese in United’s team selection.
First is the man you all would expect – Jesse Lingard!
Jesse has been so retrogressive since last season that he finished 2019 without a single goal or assist in 28 games in the Premier League (PL)! The 27-year-old has had a year to forget in English football’s top tier after a truly dreadful tally in terms of goal contributions.
Although, he cited family issues as the main reason for his drop in performance, that has since become a thing of the past, yet the United academy product is yet to find his rhythm.
Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been backing him amid his below-par performances, but Manchester United fans can take mediocrity no more! Incoming Fernandes is sure a direct competitor for a place in the team with Jesse. They are both attacking-minded players and are expected to support the main forwards.
Ceteris paribus, Fernandes should relegate Lingard to the bench!
The second man ‘in trouble’ is Juan Mata. Yes, he seems back to life in the past few games; voted Man of the Match in the 1-0 FA Cup win over Wolves at Old Trafford recently and been involved in three goals in the club’s last two games. That still cannot save him from Fernandes’ dislodgment!
Unlike Lingard, Mata has not fumbled much. He showed glimpses of his past self when given the opportunity to feature in matches, but has been struggling really. The few matches he has played showed he cannot be fully depended on. Hence, the club is right to try the man from Maia!
Of the decuplet of Paul Pogba, Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James, Angel Gomes, Nemanja Matic, James Garner, Scott McTominay and him (Mata), he is arguably United’s most-creative player. So, his place is at risk with the coming of one of Europe’s most-creative players at the moment. Fernandes is expected to bring a lot of creativity to Old Trafford, and chip in with important goals and assists too.
United’s current crop of midfielders are seriously lacking in all those areas. From domestic league competition, Fernandes has played 15 games (1349 minutes), scored eight goals, made seven assists and carved out 55 chances. Plainly, he is better that Mata and co – at least at the moment!
Considering the treatment he is getting from fans of Manchester United and the club’s diminishing stature, Pogba would most likely leave in the summer, but truth is, the Frenchman’s place is not troubled at all with Fernandes’ arrival. The coach should find a system that fits the duo.
Pogba and Fernandes are two different type of midfielders. One – energetic – loves to spray those passes forward, the other – discerning – loves to burst forward and aim at goal.
Pereira has been a pretender at Manchester United, but he should be safe – for now.
How do you explain a Brazilian midfielder (who his coach once listed as a winger) playing at a top club and registering just a lone goal and paltry assists to his name since the start of the season? Similar situation with Fred! But to be fair with Fred, he has slotted in well for injured Pogba.
As for me, even though I do not see much tactical knowledge in Coach Solskjær, I support his transfer policy. The apparently underperforming ones are shown the exit door, and the right purchases are being made.