Sporting Lisbon star Bruno Fernandes was a frequent fixture of the summer’s gossip columns. He ended up staying put, but the rumour mill is cranking up again and Tottenham or Manchester United have been touted.
The attacking midfielder scored 20 goals and registered 13 assists in the Portuguese top flight for Sporting last season, and he’s got his head down and carried on performing since a potential move away never materialised.
The talk of making the switch to Old Trafford hasn’t died down, while speculation is mounting that he’s set to join his Portuguese compatriot Jose Mourinho in North London. But how does he compare to their existing options – Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira at United, and Giovani Lo Celso and Christian Eriksen at Spurs?
One major plus for Fernandes is his match fitness and rhythm. He was a frequent fixture last season, and has played in 10 of Sporting’s 11 league games so far this season, clocking up 900 minutes. He’s also played every minute of their Europa League campaign, playing five games.
That’s 1350 minutes for his club so far this season.
Both Manchester United and Tottenham have struggled to get consistency from their creative midfielders this season.
Eriksen, seemingly running down his contract at Tottenham, has started seven of their 13 league games, clocking 704 Premier League minutes and 205 in the Champions League, starting just one of five matches. Loanee Lo Celso has made just one start in the league – he’s played 153 Premier League minutes and 97 in the Champions League.
Lingard has made six of his 10 Premier League appearances from the bench this season, totalling 676 minutes in all competitions (231 in the Europa League, 445 in the league). Pereira is the one player with comparable minutes to Fernandes – he’s started 11 of United’s 13 league games, 870 minutes of Premier League football, with 31 minutes in the Europa League.
Fernandes has five goals and five assists in the league for Sporting – ahead of any of his competitors on both counts. He also leads the Europa League for both goals (five) and assists (three).
As an average, that’s a goal every 180 minutes in the league, an assist every 180 minutes, and a direct contribution (goal or assist) every 90 minutes.
For comparison, Pereira, who has played nearly as many league minutes, has just one goal and one assist from his 870 minutes the Premier League. Lingard scored in United’s 2-1 defeat to FC Astana, his first and only goal (still no assists) from his total 676 minutes.
Lo Celso has scored one goal from his 97 minutes in the Champions League, but has yet to score or assist in his 153 league minutes. A slightly off-colour Eriksen has one goal and one assist from 704 Premier League minutes, and one goal and one assist from his 205 Champions League minutes.
Does Bruno Fernandes want some nachos with that dip?! 😳
An incredible strike from the Sporting man 👏 pic.twitter.com/opHOAkqWBt
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 22, 2018
Fernandes averages 1.7 dribbles, 3.4 shots and draws 2.9 fouls per game in the league this season.
At United, Pereira averages 1.1 dribbles, 1.8 shots and draws one foul per game in the Premier League, while Lingard averages 0.5 dribbles, one shot and draws 1.3 fouls per game.
For Spurs in the league, Eriksen averages no dribbles, 1.4 shots and draws 0.5 fouls. Lo Celso – with a very limited sample size – averages 0.5 shots, 0.3 dribbles and one foul drawn per game.
Fernandes averages 3.5 key passes (the final pass before a team-mate takes a shot) per game and 54.2 passes per game with a pass accuracy of 77.1%. Once again, he’s ahead of the competition.
Pereira averages 1.3 key passes, 26.2 passes, with a pass completion rate of 72%. Lingard averages 1.1 key passes, 19.1 passes, but is tidier with the ball, averaging 89.2% accuracy.
Eriksen plays 1.3 key passes per game, averages 33.5 passes with an accuracy of 79.6%. Lo Celso averages 0.8 key passes, 16 passes with an accuracy rate of 86.5%.