In the last few months, Bruno Fernandes’ stock has constantly risen. There were strong links with Manchester United but in the end, the midfielder ended up staying at Sporting Lisbon.
It weren’t just his performances for the club that grabbed everyone’s attention. They led to Fernandes being a regular for the Portuguese national team too.
While Fernandes’ Portugal debut came in 2017, he has now become a regular part of Fernando Santos’ side. He has started seven of the last eight games and that includes the final and semi-final of the UEFA Nations League.
For Sporting, Fernandes has taken off from where he left off last season. He has scored five times, assisting just as many times in ten league outings. That is very much on par with his contributions last season. He played 33 league games and picked up as many as 20 goals and bagged a tally of 13 assists.
Those are astounding numbers for any player, let alone a midfielder like Fernandes. But that is why he is getting all the attention from big clubs and he probably deserves it too.
The comments of former Real player Jese though, would offer Los Blancos some promise. In a recent interview with AS, the current Sporting forward said:
“Bruno Fernandes is an amazing player – who couldn’t just play for Real Madrid, but for any club in Europe. He’s a Sporting player, and I think he’s happy here. He’s dedicated, he wants us to win every game we play and that Sporting wins something big.”
That will be pleasing news for Real fans, who saw their club fail to sign a creative midfielder in the summer. The likes of Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek were linked but the Los Blancos failed in that regard.
While all three of them are quality players, Fernandes is a mixture of all of them. Someone who was a central midfielder originally, Fernandes has Van de Beek’s engine and has Eriksen’s intelligence to find spaces in attacking areas. He also has Pogba’s ability to ping creative passes for players around him.
This season, he has played in an attacking midfield role for Sporting. He has played as many as 3.5 key passes per game this season, completing 1.7 dribbles per game too. He has also won 2.3 tackles per game – a show of how he can be a fighter when the time comes.
As things stand, Real are looking for ways to replace an ageing Luka Modric. Stats show that the Croatian’s numbers have hit the lowest ever in his career. And this probably is the right time to replace him.
Despite having played fewer games, Modric has averaged a lower number of key passes per game this season than in most of his other campaigns. He has also completed the least number of dribbles per game ever in a single season. The same goes for tackles and interceptions too, which have dipped accordingly as per Whoscored.
While Federico Valverde has been playing more often this season, he has also played in Toni Kroos’ position sometimes. More so, Valverde is a little more like Kroos than Modric, when it comes to how he moves about and penetrates defences.
And considering that Fernandes too is versatile in midfield, that is an added bonus for Real. Valverde is yet to ascertain as to which midfield spot he takes up. And Fernandes’ versatility can help him in that regard by taking the burden off his shoulders.
La Liga is known to be a league where big importance is given to possession and technical ability. It isn’t as fast-paced as the Premier League or as tactical/structured as Serie A. That sort of time on the ball is exactly what Fernandes needs to thrive.
And Real need to add him into the squad and allow him to take them forward.
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