Bruno Fernandes may have unintentionally blocked Manchester United from signing one of the Premier League’s standout players thus far.
United sit seventh in the rankings with a goal difference of minus five following another devastating loss to one of their main rivals over the weekend.
Manchester City hammered Erik ten Hag’s team 3-0 at Old Trafford, raising more doubts about the Dutchman’s credentials as manager.
In the aftermath of the defeat, Fernandes has come under fire, with former United captain Roy Keane demanding for him to be removed of the leadership.
“Today, having watched him again, I would take the captaincy off him 100 percent,” Keane told Sky Sports.
“I understand it’s a big decision, obviously they changed the captaincy with [Harry] Maguire, but Fernandes is not captain materia
“He is a talented player no doubt about it. But what I saw today – we’ve discussed many times before, it was last season at Liverpool – his whinging, his moaning and throwing his arms up in the air constantly.
“It really isn’t acceptable. From what we saw today, I’m thinking I would take that off him.”
A number of other United players have faced criticism in the wake of the defeat including Mason Mount – who has struggled to make an impact since joining from Chelsea in a £60m move this summer.
Mount came off the bench at half-time against City but had little impact on the game, and has managed just one assist and no goals in eight games so far this season.
Mount’s form is in marked contrast to that of his England teammates Jude Bellingham, James Maddison and Declan Rice, who have all thrived since moving clubs this summer.
Maddison in particular has impressed for Tottenham, scoring three goals and providing five assists.
Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst claims United decided not to make a move for Maddison, who only cost Spurs £40m, after deeming him to be too similar to Fernandes.
“James Maddison, one of Mount’s peers, has been the best player in the Premier League this season, Declan Rice has been one of the best and Jude Bellingham is the best in the world. United did not go near any of those England midfielders,” wrote Luckhurst.
“Bellingham had his heart set on Real Madrid but Rice or Maddison were attainable.
“Senior United sources say Maddison was too identical to Bruno Fernandes. Mount started the majority of his Chelsea career in the attacking midfield role Fernandes regularly occupies for United.”