Paul Merson ‘stunned’ by Man Utd’s decision to hand Bruno Fernandes new contract

Fernandes has penned a new £250,000-a-week deal that will run until 2026, although he still has three years to complete his previous deal

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Ralf Rangnick on Bruno Fernandes’ new contract

Paul Merson has admitted he is “stunned” by Manchester United’s decision Bruno Fernandes a new long-term contract.

The Portuguese midfielder has renewed his contract at Old Trafford which runs until 2026 with an option for a further year. Fernandes’ previous contract had three more years left, but he has been handed a huge raise that has reduced his salary from £120,000 to £250,000 a week.

His new pay puts him among United’s top earners, in front of the likes of Marcus Rashford and club captain Harry Maguire. Fernandes has been one of United’s key players since he landed a £67million transfer from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020 after a long, drawn out pursuit – but Merson can’t understand it United’s motives.

“I’m stunned if I’m honest,” Merson told Sky Sports on Football Saturday. “They give him a four-year extension, more money, a manager comes in, he might not like Fernandes, he might not like all that throwing up of hands, the groaning he does when he doesn’t get the ball. He could have someone, it could be the Ajax boy [Erik ten Hag]who has another and thinks ‘I have someone I want to bring in who wants to play my way’.

“I am completely and deeply shocked. I can’t believe what’s happening. Everything is just made on the fly. It’s been done off the cuff at Man Utd for the last couple of years.”

While Fernandes has endured a difficult campaign this season, United’s decision is arguably justified given his contribution since joining from Portugal. Only Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane had more goal involvements First League since Fernandes landed on the English coast.

Bruno Fernandes, who joined Man Utd in 2020, has agreed on a new record deal


(Getty Images)

Did United make the right decision in signing Fernandes? Join in in the comments below.

In his United career to date, the 27-year-old has scored 49 goals in 117 games while also providing a significant number of assists. Crucially, though, Fernandes is yet to collect silverware and was a rare spark at an otherwise tumultuous period in the club’s history, having already played for two different managers with one more on the way.

Fernandes has taken on a variety of roles during his time at United, although he has been criticized this season for his inability to stick to a tactical plan. Thinking after the 1:1 with southampton In February, United legend Paul Scholes told BT Sport: “I think Fernandes could be a little problem. As much as he is a talented boy, when he first came to England he scored so many good goals, so many assists, but he’s everywhere on the pitch.

“A coach will tell you better from a defensive point of view. How can you build a form if you have no idea where the beginning of it is? [Cristiano] Ronaldo is the beginning; then it’s Fernandes – how can you set traps for teams when you don’t know where some of your players are going to be?

Paul Merson can’t understand why United have offered Fernandes a new deal

“[Paul] Pogba likes to wander around. You see Fernandes, sometimes he’s a right-back, sometimes a left-back, the end of the game he’s playing behind [Diogo] Dalot for five minutes. They either don’t take orders or they don’t want to.”

That was perhaps a problem that interim boss Ralf Rangnick has identified as he has already omitted Fernandes from his starting XI on occasion. Such tactical mistakes will not wash away any of the leading contenders for Rangnick’s post in the summer either.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag favors a structured, high-pressing model, with similarities to the style Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, whose teams make every man count. Ten Hag can potentially get the best out of Fernandes as he gives his advanced central midfielders license to find space in the last third, although defensive duties also play a key role in his philosophy.

Mauricio Pochettino is following a similar strategy but has become accustomed to key talismans eluding some of their defensive duties at Paris Saint-Germain, namely Neymar and Lionel Messi. Although Jamie Carragher recently warned that the days of giving flair players a free role are dying.

Speaking of even before the shock of PSG real Madrid by doing Champions League Round of 16, Carragher said on CBS Sports: “”[They’re] two of the best players I’ve probably ever seen [Messi and Ronaldo]but to win the big trophies, I don’t think you can carry players and say they’re not working hard or not going to push the ball.”

Still, Rangnick thinks Fernandes’ long-term commitment is an important step. “I think this is very good news for the club, the fans and also for Bruno knowing that he will stay here for the next five years,” he said. “There is no doubt that he is a very important player for this club and in this team.”

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