Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Bruno Fernandes can replicate Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact at Manchester United.
Fernandes has been fantastic for United since his £47million transfer from Sporting Lisbon in January, immediately taking on a leadership role in Solskjaer’s side.
The attacking midfielder has scored 21 goals in his 35 appearances since his transfer from Portugal, sparking a comparison with his compatriot Ronaldo, who netted 118 goals in 292 games for United after making the same move in 2003.
Asked if Fernandes could build on his encouraging start at the club and have a similar effect to Ronaldo, Solskjaer was full of praise for his player.
“He does definitely have that presence and an influence and impact on his team-mates, you can just look at results we've had since he came in,” he said ahead of United’s Premier League game against Southampton on Sunday.
“He’s got loads of energy, leadership, he's a team player which is the key here now for us going forward.
“Some players will have to sit games out and rest. I wasn't looking forward to telling Bruno when he was rested against Leipzig but he was absolutely no problem, the same as Marcus (Rashford).
“They know this season is challenging and that's how we build this team, the culture of the team. It's about the team, not individuals and Bruno has proved that over and over, that's it's the team before 'I'.”
Fernandes is in brilliant form at the moment, having scored five goals in his last three games to help United bounce back from consecutive defeats with three much-needed victories.
His ability to drift into pockets of space and turn defence into attack has proved crucial to United, who have made a slow start to their Premier League campaign.
Solskjaer’s side are 10th, with 13 points from eight games, ahead of Sunday’s trip to play Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
Fernandes will lead United’s attempts to break down a Saints side who are unbeaten in their last seven league games and who have won their last three home matches 2-0.
However, the visitors will be without Paul Pogba, who has failed to recover from an ankle injury, and fellow midfielder Scott McTominay, who didn’t train on Friday.
Marcus Rashford, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are “not 100%” fit, according to Solskjaer, but he hopes the trio will be available for the trip to the south coast.
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