Credit: premierleague.com

Bruno Fernandes: Index royalty or over-hyped?

Unless you’re a Manchester United supporter, you’ve probably enjoyed the fact they haven’t been the dominant force they once were under Sir Alex Ferguson. Since Bruno Fernandes jetted in from Portugal though many people have spoken of the midfielder being the catalyst to carry United back to their rightful place amongst the elite. As a result the Portuguese is widely seen as a sure fire profit maker on Football Index. Here we scratch below the hype and ask “is Bruno Fernandes really that good?”​

Who is Bruno Fernandes?​

Fernandes, 25, was born in Portugal but actually made his breakthrough in professional football through Italy’s second tier where he played for Novara. His performances in Serie B earned him a step up where he made 95 appearances for Udinese contributing 11 goals and 13 assists. A loan move to Sampdoria was next on the list. He featured in 35 games and they signed him in a £5.4m permanent deal before immediately selling him on for a £3.3m profit. Fernandes was returning to his homeland and it was with Sporting where he really began to make waves. ​

The 2017/18 campaign saw him notch 16 goals and lay on a further 20. His early season form earned Fernandes his first senior international cap in a 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia. He’s since established himself as a mainstay in the Portugal squad and, as such, has a Nations League winners medal to his name. That combined with Sporting’s League Cup win helped Fernandes scoop the Portuguese player of the year award. A good year indeed but the next season went even better. ​

The league still evaded his grasp as Sporting finished third behind Benfica and Porto but he added a further two cups to his honours list along with a second player of the year win. The reason? 32 goals and 18 assists, which meant he ranked as Europe’s top scoring midfielder. By this point, speculation was rife with Man United tipped to sign him in the summer window. As it transpired, the Sporting fans were lucky enough to see him tear things up for another six months as he was involved in 15 goals in 17 league games and, even though it was hard to watch him go, a fee of up to £80m somewhat softened the blow.​

What do the stats say?​

Fernandes has been credited as the star of United’s fine run of form that sees them unbeaten in their last 16 and hot on the heels of Chelsea and Leicester in the race for the top four. He’s featured in 14 of those with his presence in the Premier League almost constant. During that time he’s bagged seven goals and six assists giving him a goal involvement every 71 minutes. It’s hardly a surprise though given his enthusiasm to contribute offensively with 4.5 attempted shots and 2.8 key passes every 90 minutes combined with a dribble success rate of nearly 70%.​

Of course, those stats don’t tell the entire story of a midfield player and Fernandes’ other metrics are more modest. His passing accuracy comes in at 75%. It’s a respectable level but is some way south of the likes of Man City pair Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva who sit significantly higher at 81 and 88% respectively. Then there is his defensive contribution. He loses more challenges than he wins and only comes out on top in one in every four aerial battles. He does, however, average one block, one clearance and one interception per 90. ​

Now, let’s be clear, we’re not digging at his all round game. He wasn’t bought by United to do the dirty work; that’s what Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are for. Likewise, his 75% pass success is perhaps more a reflection on the Red Devil’s style of play compared to that of their city rivals rather than a stat to say that Fernandes needs to improve in this area. That said, we expect any analysis at this level to improve over the coming months as his relationship with Paul Pogba – who has only just returned to fitness – develops.  ​

Where will his share price go?​

Currently, Fernandes is valued at £11.20 on Football Index. Considering he was just £4.99 at the end of January you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d missed the boat. Don’t worry, he still offers potential of turning a decent profit. It’s hard to say where his true ceiling is with new money constantly rolling into the platform. That said, £15 sounds more than achievable over the next six to 12 months and we’ve not even spoken about his dividend potential yet.​

Purely looking at his time since moving to England, he’s already posted six performance scores over 180 with a peak score of 288. That’s earned him one combo win as top midfielder and star player. In addition to that, he also scooped two further star man wins during his time with Sporting. On the media front, claiming he’s the king of the index isn’t far off the mark. Again, even after his move to United he’s featured in the media winning positions on 37 times. That’s almost a dividend pay out once every four days. ​

So where is the downside we hear you ask? Well, whilst Fernandes has been bossing things since his arrival at Old Trafford, it’s important to remember that both he and United have been in splendid form. That won’t always be the case and when a dip in form does come so might a dip in price. That’s not a problem as such because in the long term you’ll be quids in but it’s always best to go in with your eyes open.​

To sum it up in one sentence? All aboard the Bruno Fernandes train. Choo choo.​

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