June 18, 2021

Fernandes offers Mata selection nudge to Man Utd boss Solskjaer & backs Van de Beek to shine

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The Red Devils midfielder enjoys seeing a Spanish schemer line up alongside him and sees encouraging signs from the club’s playmaking crop

Bruno Fernandes has dropped a Juan Mata selection hint to Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer while also talking up the potential of summer signing Donny van de Beek.

The Portuguese midfielder is set to captain the Red Devils when they open their 2020-21 Champions League campaign away at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Solskjaer is being forced to shuffle his pack for that fixture, with a number of players either ruled out or removed from contention for starting berths.

That could mean that Mata, who was included from the off in a 4-1 Premier League win over Newcastle last time out, retains his place for a heavyweight European contest.

Fernandes would appear to be in favour of that call being made, as he is a big fan of the World Cup-winning Spaniard, and also sees plenty of potential in the understanding he is building up with Dutch playmaker Van de Beek.

“I think it’s natural,” Fernandes told United’s official website of the partnerships being established in the middle of the park.

“Of course at the training ground you train all the time with them and you know each other and you know what is better for them and how they like to play.

“You say one name with whom I enjoy playing a lot and that is Juan. I think he is one of the smartest players, he knows what I want and how I want to play and he thinks really quickly.

“Sometimes the point is not being quick but thinking quickly and I think Juan is one of those kinds of players and I love playing with him.

“Of course, having Rashy [Marcus Rashford] in front is great. The players we have playing in our attack are unbelievable. They are quick, they have qualities and they can score.

“As you saw in the last game it was a good pass from me but some players not as quick as Rashy might have had the defender take them, but Rashy did very well and his first touch was amazing to control the ball towards the goal.

“Also Donny, he’s come from Ajax. I had a coach before from Sporting [Marcel Kaiser], he was Donny’s coach too at Ajax and I know how they want to play and how they like to play – they like that little one-two, that connection and that, if we can say, ‘tiki-taka’ football and Donny is one of those guys from the beautiful Ajax football.

“They teach that growing up and they give a lot of good players to the world. If you look at the semi-final they played against Tottenham [in 2018-19], most of the players from that team are playing in big clubs and doing well.

“I hope Donny can do a lot of things for us and I’m sure he will do. Of course though every player has to take time to get settled in the club and I think he is doing well, but he can do much better for us and he also wants to do much better.”