Robin van Persie and Paul Scholes compare selfless Manchester United star to Wayne Rooney after Barcelona win


The ex-United duo felt one player was crucial to Thursday’s victory (Pictures: Getty / BT Sport)

Former Manchester United duo Robin van Persie and Paul Scholes have praised Bruno Fernandes’ selfless displays on the wing in recent weeks and likened him to club legend Wayne Rooney.

The Portuguese playmaker has been used increasingly off the flank by manager Erik ten Hag, with Wout Weghorst lining up as a number 10 in recent matches.

It did not have the desired effect in the first half of Thursdays’ Europa League knockout round playoff second-leg tie against Barcelona, with the Spanish side taking a lead on the night and Weghorst withdrawn at half-time.

After the restart, Fernandes was restored to a central role and quickly assisted Fred before Antony netted what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 (4-3 on aggregate) victory.

Although Ten Hag’s ploy of using Fernandes off the right wing on Thursday night was not especially successful, both Van Persie and Scholes have praised the 28-year-old for persevering with the selfless role regardless – much like Rooney used to do under Sir Alex Ferguson.

‘It shows as well that Fernandes plays on the wing and great players do that for the team,’ Van Persie told BT Sport after the game.

‘Rooney did it as well in his time, many times, on the wing.

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes

Fernandes gave an energetic, all-action display vs Barca (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s like when you are a great player you are a team player. When the team needs you on the wing, then he does that.

‘He is showing he wants to win, for the team, for everyone.

‘And even as a winger he is still doing well, but I do agree with Owen [Hargreaves] that in the centre of the pitch he is by far the best.’

Scholes agreed with Van Persie, adding: ‘I don’t think it was key in the first half because I don’t think it worked particularly well. We know Bruno will sacrifice himself to play out there.

‘[Jadon] Sancho was playing in a little bit of a different position – OK, he came on on Sunday and did ok there – but he’s not comfortable there, he wants to be out in the wider spaces.

‘And sacrifice is what it is all about in these big games. You mention Wayne Rooney, he did it so many times to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo and just bringing that anticipation and quality to the team that Bruno has, wherever he plays in the team, he is capable of creating a goal.’

MORE : Robin van Persie cheekily claims there is one team Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag doesn’t want in last 16

MORE : Who can Manchester United and Arsenal face in the Europa League last 16 and when is the draw?

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