London, January 2(: Manchester United's pursuit of Bruno Fernandes finally came to fruition when a deal was agreed with Sporting CP on Wednesday, and Red Devils fans should have cause for optimism.
The creative central midfielder is Old Trafford-bound, providing the formalities of a medical and personal terms can be completed, meaning Fernandes will finally join up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side having been linked with a move since the close season.
Midfield has been a problematic area for United this term and would likely have been so even if Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay had not missed time through injuries.
The arrival of Portugal international Fernandes offers hope of going some way to addressing the problem, and here Opta data shows how Fernandes has performed for Sporting this season, compared to United's midfielders.
Manchester United is delighted to announce it has reached agreement with Sporting Clube de Portugal for the transfer of Bruno Fernandes.
The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.
A further announcement will be made in due course. pic.twitter.com/6bDVHszxL1— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 29, 2020
CHIPPING IN WITH GOALS AND ASSISTS
Scoring goals has been an issue for United this season, with their return of 36 from 24 Premier League games the lowest among the top six in the top flight.
Fernandes should help in this regard having contributed eight in 17 Primeira Liga appearances. United's best Premier League goals return from midfield comes from McTominay (three in 17 appearances), while Andreas Pereira has just one in 21 and Fred (20), Jesse Lingard (19), Juan Mata (15), Nemanja Matic (8) and Pogba (7) are yet to score – albeit the latter has spent a lengthy period on the sidelines.
The 25-year-old has also been a reliable supplier for his team-mates, with seven assists. Pereira has three and Mata two, the same number as Pogba. Fred, Lingard and Matic have yet to set up a team-mate.
In total his combined 15 goal involvements is 11 better than United's best of four from Pereira and McTominay.
Fernandes also has a minutes per goals involvement of 102. Pogba is United's best in that regard, again with the caveat of having played far fewer games, at 261. Mata chips in with an involvement every 314, with Pereira at 343 and McTominay 363.
63 - Bruno Fernandes has created 63 goalscoring chances in the Primeira Liga this season, 18 more than any other player in the competition. Goodbye. pic.twitter.com/U6V28Dq0M0— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) January 29, 2020
WILLING TO SHOOT AND CHANCES CREATED GALORE
Solskjaer will certainly hope Fernandes can be a much-needed driving force from midfield and the signs are positive.
Fernandes has taken on 60 shots in the league for Sporting in 2019-2020, some 25 more than Pereira's return, which represents the most for United.
The likes of Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford – when he returns from a back injury – will also hope to thrive on Fernandes' service.
He has created 63 chances this term, an impressive 24 minutes per chance created. Conversely, the most a United midfielder has managed is 31 – again from Pereira, whose minutes-per-chance ratio is 44:1.