Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has identified “outstanding” Bruno Fernandes as one of Manchester United’s most influential players ahead of Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge.
Describing the 26-year-old old as the focal point of Man United’s attack would be an understatement — but he is by far their most influential attacker.
In fact, he has been directly involved (15 goals and 10 assists) in almost half of Man United’s total goals in the Premier League this season so far (53).
Tuchel is clearly a big fan of Fernandes that he even had the Portugal international on his transfer shortlist at Paris Saint-Germain.
“We fought hard to have a connection to him and to bring him to our [PSG] team,” said the Chelsea boss (via Goal).
“So we watched more and more games about him and followed him and tried to be in touch with him to make it happen.
“Obviously, he decided [to sign for Man United] and I was never personally in touch with him, but we tried and he went another way.
“[It is] bad for us that we have to play against him.”
Tuchel highlighted the “indescribable and unbelievable” impact the playmaker has had on Man United since arriving from Sporting Lisbon.
“It is outstanding,” Tuchel added.
“He is one of the best midfielders in the world, attacking midfielders, and he has a huge, huge impact.
“And to have this as a single person in football, you must be absolutely top level because this is almost impossible.
“That it is a big key [for Chelsea] to defend against him, to be around him and close to him.”
From Chelsea’s perspective, Fernandes’ being the centre of Man United’s plans could also be an advantage.
Shut him down, and you pretty much halve Man United’s attacking output.
Obviously, it will not be easy — many teams must have thought they could do that and failed.
Chelsea have dealt with Fernandes pretty well before under Frank Lampard, and there is no reason why they cannot do it again under Tuchel.