Paul Parker believes the Portuguese star boasts the same natural abilities as a Red Devils legend, but warns he will need help from his new team-mates
Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker has described Bruno Fernandes as an “artist” in the same mould as Eric Cantona, but he doesn’t expect the midfielder to have the same impact at Old Trafford as the Frenchman did in the 90s.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long search for a new playmaker came to end in the January transfer window, as United snapped up Fernandes from Sporting for an initial fee of €55 million (£46m/$60m).
The 25-year-old scored 51 goals in 108 games across all competitions for Sporting while contributing countless assists, attracting plenty of interest from top clubs across Europe in the process.
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Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain were among those linked with the Portugal international, but United managed to win the race for his signature and will now hope he can inject a creative spark into the team which has been sorely lacking this season.
Fernandes showed glimpses of his unique talent on his debut, taking in the full 90 minutes of a 0-0 draw against Wolves at Old Trafford on February 1.
And Parker sees similarities between the ex-Sporting star and United legend Cantona, who won four Premier League titles with the club between 1992 and 1997.
“There are some players who just have that way about them, they’re artists.
“You can’t make those people. Artists aren’t made, they’re born.
“It was like when Eric Cantona came in 1992, he came to a team that just missed out on the last First Division.”
Cantona played a key role in transforming United into the most dominant club in English football, but Parker doesn’t think Fernandes will tread the same path as the ex-France international.
“The whole onus can’t be on Fernandes, some of the onus has to be on the midfielders around him,” he added.
“They’ve got to help him out and do things for themselves now and again. But they’ve mainly got to work hard to give him the ball in space and then make things happen.
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“We were missing an edge but got in Eric and United’s whole concept changed, particularly in the way we attacked. One player made so many more options and more players did more themselves.
“Fernandes won’t have the same impact as what Eric had…United right now have to focus on being a side that can score.”
Fernandes will be back in contention for a place in Solskjaer’s starting XI when United travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in a crucial top-four showdown on Monday.