'Fernandes' football intelligence is similar to Scholes' - Stam compares €55m star with Man Utd legend

Jaap Staam has drawn similarities between Bruno Fernandes and Paul Scholes, insisting Manchester United's latest big-money signing is just as influential on the pitch as a legendary figure once was.

Fernandes joined United's ranks on January 30, completing a €55 million (£46m/$59m) switch to Old Trafford from Sporting.

The Portugal international signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with the Red Devils, who have invested heavily in a talented player they hope will provide a much needed creative spark in the middle of the pitch.

The 25-year-old showed glimpses of his ability on his debut against Wolves, getting to grips with the physicality and pace of the Premier League quickly during a 0-0 draw at the Theatre of Dreams.

Fernandes improved on that performance when United took in a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Monday, providing an assist for Harry Maguire and hitting the woodwork with an inventive free-kick.

Solskjaer's men emerged with a 2-0 victory which leaves them just three points adrift of the Blues in the race for the final Champions League spot, with a trip to Club Brugge in the Europa League up next on Thursday.

Ahead of that fixture, Stam has compared Fernandes to Scholes, highlighting his "football intelligence" and forward-thinking style of play.

"I think Fernandes is a bit similar to Scholesy," the ex-United defender told 888sport. "He’s always looking to play forward. He’s got the ability to score.

"He’s got a great free-kick. He’s got a great pass. He is always looking to get into certain areas to get onto the ball and be influential in the game.

"He’s not exactly the same. Scholesy was a bit more aggressive without the ball. But in terms of football intelligence, he is similar to Paul Scholes."

Paul Pogba Manchester United 2019-20

One man who will not be featuring against Brugge is Paul Pogba, who is still out of action recovering from ankle surgery.

Solskjaer claims the Frenchman is still not "anywhere near" a return to full training, which has led to more questions over his future at the club.

Real Madrid are reportedly preparing to submit an offer for Pogba when the transfer market re-opens, while a possible return to Juventus has also been mooted for the mercurial midfielder.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has publicly fuelled transfer speculation surrounding his client over the past few months, which has left Stam left sympathising with Solskjaer, who has the tough task of managing the situation in public and behind the scenes.

"The difficult thing is that agents are always pressing on behalf of their players," Stam added. "But players always want to play themselves, especially when you’re a big player and a manager tells you that you’re not going to play. You then want to go somewhere else and play for another club.

"And if you’re a big player like Pogba is there are always teams asking for you and who want to sign you.

"That makes things difficult for the manager who has to keep the player calm and make him feel happy and appreciated.

"This is especially true these days with all the money in football. ‘It’s an extra dimension to the actual football and with all the money around every player want to be thought of as the best.

"But they need to look at the big picture and look at what the club wants to do and how they want to play."