Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about the Portugal and Sporting CP midfielder, Bruno Fernandes.
When one listens to the name of some young promising Portuguese player, one automatically infers he was raised in Sporting Lisbon, Benfica or Porto. The following article describes an exceptional situation, which proves that there are other teams in Portugal that are also very good in raising successful and promising players, despite not being amongst the natural candidates for the Potuguese Primeira Liga title, like SC Braga, Vitória de Guimarães or, as follows, Boavista.
Who is Bruno Fernandes?
Bruno Fernandes is a Portuguese midfielder born in Maia, on the 8th of September of 1994 (22 years old). He started playing when he was only 8 years old in the youth teams of the Portuguese third-tier club Infesta. At the age of 9 he went to play for Boavista and remained there until he was 18 years, having played on loan for the local team Pasteleira, in the seasons of 2005/06, 2007/08 and 2009/10.
He never played one match for the Boavista A team and in the season of 2012/13, he was transferred to Novara, in the Italian Serie B. He stood out and in his first season, at the age of 18, he played 23 matches for the A team, scoring 4 goals, and in 6 matches for the Novara U20 team, he scored 3 goals.
He soon became an essential player for Novara, despite his young age, and revealed all his potential. Only one season later (2013/14), the Italian Serie A team Udinese showed a tremendous interest in the young Portuguese player and got him to move there. He played at Udinese for three seasons, playing a total of 95 matches throughout the three seasons and scoring a total of 12 goals.
This past season, he was transferred to the Italian team Sampdoria, and he played 35 matches and scoring 5 goals. As of July 2017, at the start of the 2017/18 season, he has been transferred to Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) for approximately 9 million euros and signed a contract which establishes a termination clause of 100 million euros.
Regarding international achievements, he made his international debut for the U19 Portuguese national team, in the 2012/13 season, and played 2 matches.
He then played for the U20 Portuguese national team, participating in the Toulon Tournament in 2014, playing 5 matches and scoring 1 goal.
He has not still played for the Portuguese main national team but is the captain of the U21 team, having played 17 matches and scored 4 goals. He has recently been present in the U21 2017 European Championship, where he scored 1 goal against the U21 Serbian national team.
What is his style of play?
Bruno Fernandes is a natural centre-midfielder. He plays a key part in the offensive transition of his team, becoming the main distributor of the game. However, he does often occupy more advanced areas in the field when the team is attacking in order to try and score, as he regularly does (total of 20 goals in his last 5 seasons, clubs only).
Nevertheless, he is a player that can easily go unnoticed, and does not stand out most of the times, because his job is to balance and to organise his teams tactical positioning in the various moments of the game, whether in offense or defence. Therefore, he can be characterised as an attentive and abiding young player, whose function is to balance the tactical behaviour of the team and to set the game in proper conditions for the construction of successful attacking situations, but also to guarantee that there is no tactical defect in the defensive organisation.
What are his strengths?
Bruno Fernandes is a very complete football player. His strongest attributes are perhaps his flawless sense of positioning, his potent long-distance shots and his tactical intelligence.
You’d think that a good sense of positioning and tactical intelligence are practically the same thing but they are not. Whilst being strong at positioning reveals tactical intelligence, the latter does not only refer to the former.
Bruno Fernandes, as stated before, is often trusted with the mission of calibrating the team’s game tactically, a bit like Toni Kroos in Real Madrid for example, and that requires a great deal of positioning ability. That involves promptly occupying a space left empty by some other player that is participating in an attacking situation, creating passing opportunities in order to support both the defensive and attacking sectors, and many other situations. Bruno Fernandes does it quite perfectly.
When it comes to tactical intelligence, it entails a good sense of positioning but also an effective capacity to understand your colleagues moves in order to make breaking passes or to support them when they have the ball but are being pressured, for example. It also entails knowing where the ball is more likely to end up after a midfield head-dispute, an interception or even a tackle. These “second balls”, are in important part of the job for any midfielder.
Bruno Fernandes is also keen on shooting from a long-distance and has been able to score a reasonable number of goals that way.
To sum up, Bruno Fernandes has a quality that is most important in a midfielder: quality without the ball. Although it is important for any player to be good and successful when he has the ball at his feet, it is also of the utmost importance for any player, especially a midfielder, to know how to play and how to position himself when he does not, and that is the main attribute of Bruno Fernandes.
What are his weaknesses?
As stated before, Bruno Fernandes is a very complete player, and I find it hard to spot his flaws. Maybe he could improve physically, for he lacks the ability to compete effectivle in 1 v 1 duels, and it is important for him to possess more physical power.
To my mind, that is as far as Bruno goes in terms of football incompletion. I believe he is on his way to a long and bright career, and now that he is under the command of an experienced coach like Jorge Jesus, who is an expert in getting the best out of his players, he will certainly improve any other less positive aspect of his playing.
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