Bruno Fernandes can be the natural successor to Manchester United legend Paul Scholes, according to boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fernandes is set to make his United debut against Wolves today, after joining from Sporting Lisbon in a move which could be worth up to £67.8millon.
United have struggled to find an attacking midfielder with the creative vision, passing range, goal threat and belligernce of Scholes, since the 45-year-old retired in 2013.
But Solskjaer, who played alongside Scholes, believes Fernandes – who will wear the same No.18 as the United icon – can fill that void and become an inspirational figure for the Reds.
“He’s a goalscoring and assisting midfielder, a little bit like Paul Scholes,” said Solskjaer. “He can strike a ball fantastically.
“He’s got such a wonderful technique, but he’s also going to get assists from set-plays and from his range of passes.
“He’s a similar type to Scholesy, fiery, passionate, hates losing, and has the same number on the back of the shirt.
“I think he’s another piece in the jigsaw. I’m sure he’ll give us that X-factor that we’ve been missing at times this year. It’s an important piece in the puzzle we’re trying to solve.”
Fernandes is likely to start for United, having impressed Solskjaer with the way he kept his focus and performed for Sporting, despite all the uncertainty surrounding his future.
The 25-year-old’s chances of starting have been boosted with the suspension of fellow midfielder Nemanja Matic, following his red card in United’s Carabao Cup exit at Manchester City .
“Bruno’s fit to play and he will be involved,” said Solskjaer. “Definitely he’ll be in the squad, once he gets the training out of the way.
“He’s had a few hectic days now, his little daughter was three-years-old yesterday, so I don’t know how much he will be involved, but he will be in the squad.
“We’re just happy to finally get it over the line. We’ve followed him for years and he’s grown in that period.
“More mature, more assured performances and a great leader of his team.
“Even with all the speculation that’s been around him, with every club in Europe linked with him, he stayed focused and played some fantastic football for Sporting Lisbon.
“It tells us how professional he is and when you get to meet him and see him, he’s a fantastic human being.”
Asked whether the arrival of Fernandes could allow Paul Pogba, currently injured, to be granted his wish to finally leave United in the summer, Solskajer was coy with his answer.
“We want to try to build towards a team that will challenge for the title and trophies, so we want to keep our best players,” said Solskajer. “We can play them together.
“Bruno can play with good players and he can do absolutely everything, because he’s such a good footballer.
“He can play in a three-man midfield, he can play as a No.10, he can play in off the side, he can play in a diamond, so we’ll give him his time to find his best position.”