Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

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The numbers which capture Bruno Fernandes’ contribution to Manchester United

2 min read

Players are responsible for adding different things on a pitch, with several high-profile managers – including Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel – both comparing a football team to an orchestra in recent weeks.

Different instruments are played by different players, but some are so talented that they are able to offer multiple perks at once across a number of departments.

For example, those who contribute a lot towards ball progression and advancing up the field don’t tend to offer much when it comes to directly creating scoring opportunities in and around the goal for their teammates; they either do one or the other.

The players who move the ball towards the final third usually allow their more advanced teammates to generate the chances near the penalty area, but some top performers break that mould.

Pictured below, all outfield players with at least 900 minutes played in the Premier League this season have been plotted in accordance with their number of key passes per 90 minutes, and their progressive passes per 90.

For context, a key pass is a pass that directly leads to a shot, and a progressive pass is a pass that move the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least 10 yards from its furthest point in the last six passes, or a pass into the penalty box.

As shown, Bruno Fernandes is one of the few in England’s top-flight who does ticks both boxes to an impressive level alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish.

Granit Xhaka contributes a lot to Arsenal’s ball progression, but he doesn’t generate shots for others whereas at the opposite end of the scale, Pedro Neto does create chances for Wolves, but doesn’t progress the ball much with passes.

Fernandes, on the other hand, blends both skills.

The 26 year-old is inclined to drift into deeper areas to assist with Manchester United ‘s build-up but crucially, he mixes that with a tendency to deliver valuable moments close to goal.

No player averages more progressive passes per 90 for United than Fernandes this season, and the same applies to key passes; not only does the Portuguese help his team move from A to B, but he also has a notable impact on the ball finding the back of the net once the Red Devils reach the business end of the park.

Whatever Ole Gunnar Solskjaer achieves this year, Fernandes’ presence will be integral to it.

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