Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks that his new signing Bruno Fernandes is a similar type of player to one of his illustrious former teammates.
“He’s a goalscoring and assisting midfielder, a little bit like Paul Scholes,” the United manager said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in which the Portuguese attacking midfielder is expecting to make his debut.
“He’s fit to play and he will be involved, he’ll definitely be in the squad once he gets the training out of the way today,” explained his new manager of the player who will cost €55 million (Dh 224 million) rising to a possible €80 million.
“He’s a similar type to Scholesy; he’s fiery, he hates losing and has the same number on the back of his shirt.
As it’s been hectic for the new recruit whose daughter had her third birthday the day before, Solskjaer said he couldn’t say how much Fernandes would be involved, but added “he will be in the squad”.
Asked to describe what type of player he’d signed, Solskjaer said: “He can strike a ball fantastically, he’s got such a wonderful technique but he’s also going to get assists from set plays and with his range of passes.”
Fernandes is the fourth signing of the Solskjaer era after Daniel James, Aaron Wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire.
Solskjaer has also given debuts to eight players from the youth system, with Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood now featuring regularly for the team who are fifth in the table, way off the pace of the titles United used to win regularly.
Solskjaer hopes that the signing of players like Bruno from Sporting Lisbon, can have significant, immediate impact.
“Bruno can play with good players,” said the Norwegian.
“He can do absolutely everything as a footballer - apart from he’s my size so he’s probably not a target man in the box, but he’s such a good footballer he can play in different positions," he added.
"He can play with three midfielders; he can play as a ten, in off the side, in a diamond. We’ll give him the time to find his best position.”
But there was a note of caution in his enthusiastic assessment.
“We’ve brought him here to play and we believe in him but we’ve also got to give him time to settle down and find his feet in a new country with new teammates and a new league,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s going to be a very important player for us. He’s already given the players a boost just by meeting them. They can see what type of human being he is and his personality. He’s another piece in our jigsaw and I’m sure he’ll give us that X factor which at times we’ve been missing this year.”
Fernandes said that he’d loved united since watching Cristiano Ronaldo play for the club when he was a child. Having already made the comparison with one United legend, Solskjaer was not prepared to risk another.
“Cristiano was unique. But it’s not fair to start comparing Bruno with him.”
Asked whether Fernandes’ arrival meant that Paul Pogba would depart, Solskjaer replied: “We want to try and build towards a team that is going to challenge for trophies and the league in the end. We want to keep our best players.”
Solskjaer confirmed that the money from Fernandes’ signing has come from his summer transfer budget.
Asked why he hadn’t come last summer when United first tried to sign him, Solskjaer said: “It’s about timings, priorities, and also valuation, money, and you have a club that owns him and you can see how in January how much he means to them and they wanted to keep him.”
The United manager, who seemed unable to emphasise the positives of the move, made clear it was not a knee-jerk signing.
“We're just happy to finally get it over the line, we followed him for years and he has grown in that period, more mature, assured performances, a great leader of his team and even with all the speculation that has been around him from every club in Europe linked with him,” he said.
“He stayed focused and played some fantastic football for Sporting Lisbon. It tells us how professional he is and when you get to meet him and see him, he’s a fantastic human being.”