Bruno Fernandes: The story so far
Bruno Fernandes has taken an unusual path to the top when compared to other Portuguese talents who have starred for Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, for example, were snapped up by the Reds shortly after breaking through at Sporting Lisbon, their first senior club. Current full-back Diogo Dalot, meanwhile, signed on the back of a handful of appearances for Porto.
While Fernandes came through at one of Porto’s city rivals Boavista, it was in Italy he made his breakthrough, with Serie B club Novara.
Aged just 17 when he moved in August 2012, Bruno initially suffered from homesickness, but after teaching himself Italian, he grew into his new environment, helping the Blues to fifth position before joining Udinese in Italy's top tier.
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Bruno spent three seasons in Udine, scoring 11 goals in 95 appearances, which was enough to convince Sampdoria to clinch his signature, shortly after playing at the Rio Olympics with Portugal Under-23s.
At the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, the midfielder sported the iconic no.10 shirt once worn by Roberto Mancini, who captained the club to its only Scudetto in 1991.
By this time, Fernandes was developing into a leader himself and, after a promising campaign with the Genovese, he was given the armband for Portugal’s 2017 Under-21 European Championship campaign.
On his return from Poland, Bruno signed for Sporting. By now, he was seen as a playmaker after originally thriving in Italy as an Andrea Pirlo-type sitting midfielder.
A promising start to his Lions career earned a first senior national call-up, for Portugal's friendly against Saudi Arabia in November 2017.
Playing alongside former Reds star Nani in the Sporting midfield, Fernandes's first season at Estadio Jose Alvalade was a resounding success.
He contributed 16 goals and 20 assists, which was enough to earn both team and individual honours, with Sporting claiming the Portuguese League Cup and Fernandes being awarded Primeira Liga Player of the Year.
Fernando Santos selected Fernandes in Portugal's squad for the 2018 World Cup, and he played against Spain and Iran in Russia, with the European champions eventually being knocked out by Uruguay in the last 16.
While in Russia, seven senior members of Sporting cancelled their contracts.
Fernandes was one of those seven but, upon his return in July, he signed a new deal and immediately took on more of a leadership role within the team.
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Never a prolific goalscorer in Italy, something clicked in the 2018/19 season, with Fernandes hitting an incredible 20 goals from midfield, and assisting a further 13.
Bruno’s involvement in 33 league goals was the highest of any midfielder in Europe’s leading leagues, and he was once again recognised as Primeira Liga Player of the Year as Sporting took home the Portuguese Cup, and repeated their League Cup triumph from 12 months previously.
After Nani’s departure to Orlando City in February 2019, Fernandes was named captain of Sporting, following in the footsteps of the likes of national team stalwarts Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho.
Bruno now begins a new chapter in his career, becoming the sixth Portuguese player to pull on the famous red jersey of Manchester United.