“At the moment, I can’t look past him for (the) player of the season.”
Paul Merson has had his say on why Manchester City defender Ruben Dias is his pick to win the Premier League player of the season over Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.
Merson believes that while Fernandes is performing “unbelievably well” for the Red Devils, Dias deserves to win the gong because he has turned Man City into a “far better team” compared to what they were last season.
Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon last January and has been incredibly productive for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s team.
This season alone, the midfielder has contributed 22 goals and 12 assists in all competitions for Man United.
Bruno Fernandes has the same number of goal involvements as Lionel Messi since joining Man United (54) 🤯
Ballon d’Or calling? 🏆 pic.twitter.com/uUTVDmt73Q
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 21, 2021
Dias, meanwhile, arrived at the Etihad from Benfica last September in a £61.2m transfer. The Portugal international has played an instrumental role in bolstering Man City’s defence during his time at the club.
The 23-year-old has formed a formidable partnership with John Stones at the back, helping City keep 15 clean sheets in 25 Premier League games so far.
The Citizens have also conceded just 15 goals in the league, fewer than half the number conceded by second-placed Manchester United (32).
No player completed more take-ons (3) than Ruben Dias against Arsenal.
And he completed 100% of his take-ons. 😉 pic.twitter.com/L6IierXFCr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 21, 2021
Merson on Fernandes.
Given the impressive exploits of Dias and Fernandes for their respective clubs, it’s little surprise that both players are among the leading candidates to be named the Premier League’s player of the season.
However, Merson believes that Fernandes shouldn’t be crowned the winner for the current campaign over Dias.
“I like to go with someone [for the player of the year] who has had an effect on a team winning something,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“I really do like Bruno Fernandes. I love what he’s done at Manchester United. ‘People say he cannot be compared to Eric Cantona until United do what that side did in terms of trophies, but what more can he do?
“He is doing his job and doing it unbelievably well. All he can do is create chances and score goals, and that’s exactly what he’s doing, but he can’t defend all at the same time.
“He’s not the one letting in soft goals every now and then. He can only keep doing his job to the best of his ability and he has carried a massive football club on his shoulders. That takes some doing, believe me.”
Only four players have scored 10+ goals and provided 10+ assists for Man Utd in a single Premier League season:
🇹🇹 Dwight Yorke
🇫🇷 Eric Cantona
🏴 Wayne Rooney
🇵🇹 Bruno Fernandes
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) February 21, 2021
Merson on Dias.
The former Arsenal man explained why Dias was his pick to win the award for this season.
“However, I look at Ruben Dias and think, wow,” the 52-year-old added.
“Did you ever see Man City conceding the least amount of goals in a season in this league? I think he’s starting to get the reputation of someone like Virgil van Dijk.
“When you watch him now, I think players are fearful of him. They get him in a one on one situation, and they think they cannot get past him. He’s got that fear factor.
“At the moment, I can’t look past him for (the) player of the season.
“I always think, when you are talking player of the season, you have to pick someone who has won the league.
Rúben Dias for Manchester City:
⛔️20 clean sheets
⚽️12 goals conceded
The Portuguese Wall. 68M€ well spent. 🔵🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/JmJkwTAx67
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) February 21, 2021
“It’s a team game and you’ve got to pick a player from the team that’s won it. You never get (the) man of the match from a losing team.
“That’s why I’m going with Dias. He has made Man City a far better team than what they were last season.”