'Warrior' Bruno Fernandes reveals Spain legend Andres Iniesta is his source of inspiration

Manchester United player says he only cares about winning on the field, but emphasises on respecting opponents

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Bruno Fernandes has described Andres Iniesta as his idol as he revealed he modelled his game on Spain’s World Cup winner.

Manchester United’s January signing branded himself a “warrior” but said he drew most inspiration from a passer.

Fernandes is the Premier League’s reigning player of the month – for February – after scoring two goals and registering three assists in his first five matches for United.

But while he was prolific for Sporting Lisbon, scoring 64 times in less than three seasons before joining United for an initial £46 million (Dh209m), he has tried to emulate a rather less prolific midfielder.

Iniesta only struck 57 times in his 17-season Barcelona career, though he did deliver the only goal in the 2010 World Cup final, but Fernandes admired him for his creative gifts and his ability to move between two positions.

He explained: “The one I liked to watch and follow was Iniesta, because Iniesta is a mix between an eight and a 10. It is a way I can do better, between eight and 10. It is the guy who always likes to have the ball, take the risks, and I think Iniesta was one of the best in the world. For me, it was incredible how Iniesta finished his career without the Ballon d'Or. With everything he won, it is difficult for me to understand!”

Iniesta finished second in the Ballon d’Or voting in 2010. The 2005 winner, and another Barcelona flair player, also influenced a young Fernandes.

The Portuguese told United’s website: “The player I think is the one everyone liked and always will like is Ronaldinho. For me, he is the player with the capacity to take you and put you in front of the TV, and you will stay for hours. Because he had that energy and happiness. He was happy in everything he did. You enjoy it when you see guys playing like that, so for the first few years Ronaldinho was my favourite player. After this, I have already said that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the players.”

Iniesta is a mix between an eight and a 10

Fernandes cited his older brother as another influence and jokingly thanked his father for getting him ready for life in England during family games. “When I became 13 or 14 years old, I started to play with them and sometimes my dad kicked me a little bit, just to prepare me for the Premier League,” he said.

While Fernandes has caught the eye with his ability to score and create goals, he prides himself on his fighting qualities. Asked to describe himself in a word, he replied: “Warrior, because for me every game is a battle. You need to go out to the game and just understand you need to beat your opponent. With all of the respect, because you need to have respect for your opponent, but you need to beat them.

“If you don't beat them, they will beat you. It doesn't matter who is on the other team. If it is a friend, because I have friends playing in the Premier League, I don't care. At that moment I will be the biggest enemy they can have.”

The 25-year-old made an early impact after his arrival, helping United to win at Chelsea in his second appearance for his new club but said his welcome helped.

“When I came from Sporting, I arrived and I was in Manchester for two days. I played against Wolves and they already had a song for me. I had just arrived and the supporters already gave me the support I need to be confident and be at home. I think this is the most important thing.”