“It doesn’t matter if I like them or not, I defend the Portuguese players every time.”
Bruno Fernandes has been a transformative figure during his first 15 months at Manchester United.
Signed from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, the Portuguese playmaker has taken United up a level with his dazzling array of passing and eye for goal.
Fernandes has scored 36 goals in 73 games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. This season – his first full campaign as a United player – he has scored 24 goals and added 14 assists.
Touted as one of European football’s hottest properties prior to his arrival at Old Trafford, Fernandes has comfortably surpassed the hype – which is more than can be said for several of United’s big-money signings in the post-Ferguson era.
Were Fernandes to maintain his current level and inspire United to a Premier League title, or even maybe a Champions League, we would catapult himself into the pantheon of Portugal’s greatest players.
Speaking of Portuguese greats, Fernandes has revealed that he ‘fights’ with United teammates Alex Telles and Fred over who the better player was: Luis Figo or Rivaldo.
Both players are considered greats of the game. Like Fernandes, Figo made his name at Sporting before earning a lucrative move, only he opted for Barcelona.
There, he helped the Catalans to back-to-back La Liga titles before committing the ultimate act of betrayal in the eyes of Barcelona fans: he joined Real Madrid.
While it was brave and hugely controversial for him to cross the divide, the move worked out well as Figo slotted seamlessly into a Real Madrid stocked with Galactico-level talent, winning another two league titles and the Champions League in 2002.
Figo won the Champions League with Real Madrid after leaving Barcelona.
Before retiring, he also scooped four Serie A crowns with Inter.
As for Rivaldo, who played alongside Figo at Barcelona, he was considered the greatest player in the world at the end of the 20th century, winning the 1999 Ballon d’Or.
A supremely gifted forward, he also won two La Liga titles and the Champions League with AC Milan in 2003.
With Brazil, he won the 2002 World Cup, and while he did not boast Figo’s staying power at the top of the game, he is considered one of the greatest Brazilian attacking players in history.
And while Fernandes says he defends Figo, Telles and Fred argue for Rivaldo.
“We always fight because they say Pele was the best in the history of football and I’m talking and I put Cristiano [Ronaldo] in the middle, of course,” Fernandes said during a Q&A with United fans.
“For me, Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi, I always say, both make history for many years and they were capable of being at the top for many years. And, of course, the same as me, they have never seen Pele play so they can’t say he was the best because they never saw him.
Fernandes and Fred.
“They say it because they’re Brazilian and, in Brazil, they say it. I think Pele is one of the best in the world because I hear people talking about him and I’ve seen some history and some videos and you watch and everyone can see Maradona, Eusebio and people talk about Pele as being the best of all time.
“But, about Rivaldo, because we talk, we always fight about Rivaldo and Figo and which one was best. Who was the worst and who was the best. So, for me as a Portuguese, I always defend my players.
“It doesn’t matter if I like them or not, I defend the Portuguese players every time. So this is a fight between Brazilian and Portuguese people but it is more of a joke than other stuff.”
Rivaldo, roi de la chilena.. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/NUwtr4VFKd
— MoreZanFootball (@MoreZanFootball) April 24, 2021
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