Nani on Bruno Fernandes's Man United Success: 'We Knew He Could Do That'

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Bruno Fernandes's impressive start to life at Manchester United has caught widespread attention, and that includes a compatriot who took a similar route to Old Trafford.

Orlando City star Nani, who spent eight years at Manchester United, is paying close attention to what the Portuguese midfield star has accomplished in his first 14 games in all competitions. Since the restart, Bruno Fernandes has scored four goals in the Premier League, to go with the pair of league goals and one in the Europa League he had tallied prior to play being suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. He also has six assists since joining Manchester United from Sporting CP at the end of the January transfer window for a reported $60 million fee.

Nani, who won a number of trophies at Manchester United (including four Premier League titles, two League Cups and a Champions League title) is happy to see another Portuguese star take the road from Sporting to Man United (Cristiano Ronaldo did as well), but he is not surprised that the 25-year-old is taking the team–and league–by storm.

“We knew he had quality. We knew he could do that. We knew if he arrived at Man United, we knew he could handle the pressure or the responsibility, and the team started working well as a unit,” Nani told Sports Illustrated. “So obviously his quality will come out, and that’s exactly what happened. The team started playing well, the players started to have more confidence and he was one of them who was key, who gave that to the team, so he’s showing his qualities, scoring goals, making passes, showing his energy on the field. He deserves all the credit he’s getting.”

Nani, who teamed briefly with Bruno Fernandes in his third stint at Sporting before coming to MLS, claims that he advised the rising talent to move to England–just not to the blue side of Manchester.

It's certainly worked out for everyone so far.

Now as part of a thriving midfield tandem with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes will look to help lead Man United back to the Champions League stage. With five games remaining, United sits in fifth place, two points behind Chelsea (with a greater goal differential, should a tiebreaker become a factor) and three clear of Wolves. It's possible that fifth place will be enough to reach the Champions League, should Man City's European competition ban be upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A ruling on the club's appeal is expected on July 13.

Luis Miguel Echegaray contributed reporting to this story.