Manchester United fans can rest assured that they have a starlet coming through their ranks right now as Alvaro Fernandez has continued to dazzle while on loan with Preston North End.
Old Trafford has seen its fair share of born entertainers over the years from Cristiano Ronaldo to Nani. Nothing quite gets the crowd going like an audacious bit of tricky.
Having come through the Real Madrid academy as a youngster, Fernandez has been in and around superstars from the off. The Spanish full-back even plays with a swagger like that of a young Galactico.
His first opportunity at first-team football has come this season with Preston North End on loan and he has regularly lit up Deepdale. Preston haven’t been the most creative of sides this year, but Fernandez has often provided a spark.
His latest bit of individual brilliance came in their latest game against Coventry City. With the game hanging in the balance at 0-0, Fernandez took it upon himself to drive Preston up the pitch.
He nonchalantly nut-megs his first victim before he then sends two defenders in the opposite direction with a filthy stop and turn. Like something straight out of the Ronaldinho playbook, he gave the defenders no chance.
The Coventry duo were left scratching their heads after the event and wondering how the Spanish trickster managed to evade both of them in the same move.
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) March 1, 2023
The 19-year-old has predominantly played the season as a left wing-back in a 3-5-2 system, although he has briefly featured in midfield too. He has often shared the responsibility on the left with former United youth player Robbie Brady.
He has produced four assists this season and averages 1.2 successful dribbles per game, which is more than any other Preston player has managed.
Fernandez has started in 18 Championship matches and has played a further nine games from the bench. While his defensive instincts still have room for improvement, he has developed in this regard too.
Preston manager Ryan Lowe has been impressed with the starlet, but he is well aware that Fernandez still has some areas in which he can improve.
“He’s a young kid isn’t he?” Lowe told Lancs Live. “In terms of the games he’s played for us and the minutes he’s played for us, I know Man United are absolutely over the moon with it.
“Because he is a good player, but he’s still young, naïve and we still have to tactically tell him what to do and what not to do. When he plays and performs the way he can, he’s a very good player.”
The Spanish teenager stole the show against Coventry as he completed four dribbles, won six ground duels and provided two key passes. He looks like a star in the making.
Alvaro Fernandez vs Coventry City pic.twitter.com/eXsfeGWqSG
— MU Comps 🔰 (@CompsMU) March 1, 2023
Fernandez took a huge leap as a youngster to leave Real Madrid and join United, but the 19-year-old has enjoyed every step of the journey so far by the sounds of it.
“You come to a new country, to a new team. It’s time to adapt,” Fernandez told AS. “It’s a bit crazy. You think about playing for a year in the Under-18s, calm, adapting, the family away because it was a pandemic and I couldn’t go home.
“The second to see if I can already be in the Sub-23 and get minutes. But the reality is that it worked out very well. The relationship with the coach was fantastic and the truth is great. I was surprised at how quickly he adapted.”
United have been keeping close tabs on Fernandez this season and they will have been impressed with what they have seen so far.
Fernandez added: “Yes, they come to see me quite a lot. I talk a lot with Darren Fletcher, who was a player but is now part of the coaching staff. Also with a boy who is in charge of the loanees and is focused on them. They are very close.
“In the end you arrive at a new club, you have to adapt. But I knew they were playing 3-5-2. I feel good, I am as if it were my position. I attack, which is what I like, I am a deep winger. Very good. It was clear to me that I would have to adapt.”
Under Erik ten Hag the future seems bright at Old Trafford right now. If Fernandez continues to develop at his current rate, he will be a part of the manager’s plans in no time.