Manchester United’s hopes of winning the Europa League have undoubtedly been boosted by the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon.
The midfielder is eligible to represent United despite having played in five of his former club’s six group stage matches in the competition.
UEFA dropped the rule preventing players from representing just one club per season in European competitions back in 2018.
United have duly added the 25-year-old to their squad for the knockout phase and fan reactions from http://www.th-footballfans.net/ give them a great chance of lifting the trophy.
Read on as we take a closer look at why Fernandes is the key to United’s Europa League challenge this season.
Promising start bodes well for the future
Fernandes was unable to inspire United to a victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, but there were plenty of promising signs for the future.
He was industrious in the middle of the park, constantly looking to get on the ball and working hard to retain possession.
There have been times this season when United’s line-up has looked disjointed, but Fernandes’ presence gave things far more balance.
He rarely gave the ball away and was eager to stamp his mark on the game by taking charge of a free-kick in a promising area, although he did fire his effort over the bar.
Fernandes certainly wasn’t afraid to put his foot in either, something that will endear him to the fans if he continues in the same vein.
Fernandes has excelled with Sporting in Europe
Sporting have reached the knockout stage in the Europa League on three successive occasions and Fernandes has played a key role for them during that time.
He has scored 11 goals and assisted nine more in 19 appearances in the competition, highlighting his effectiveness.
Fernandes was hugely impressive in his most recent performance in Europe, scoring twice as Sporting thumped PSV Eindhoven 4-0 to book their place in the round of 32.
That double took his goals tally to five in this season’s competition and it will be a major surprise if he doesn’t add a few more in a United shirt.
Six of Fernandes’ 11 goals in the Europa League have come away from home, a factor that could be of benefit to a United team who have managed to score just twice on the road in Europe this term.
Club Brugge tie the ideal chance to shine
United have been handed a favourable opening game in the knockout rounds, with Club Brugge not expected to provide them with too many problems.
The Belgian side have dropped into the competition after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
However, they failed to win any of their six group games and United are strongly fancied to ease past them.
The tie gives Fernandes the ideal opportunity to showcase his talents ahead of the tougher tests that would be waiting further down the line.
However, his previous record in the competition proves that he should have no problem making his mark and he could turn out to be the difference maker for United in the Europa league this season.