Scouting Report: Is Gelson Fernandes Ideal Manchester United Squad Signing?

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Scouting Report: Is Gelson Fernandes Ideal Manchester United Squad Signing?
Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Would Freiburg's Swiss international Gelson Fernandes—a 27-year-old, 6'0", 154-pound utility player—be a typical Louis van Gaal squad signing at Manchester United?

To cover that hypothetical scenario, here is a scouting report on Fernandes.

Grading Fernandes vs. Argentina: B

Fernandes grafted during Switzerland's 1-0 defeat to Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup round of 16.

Subbed in for Swiss right attacking midfielder Granit Xhaka, Fernandes fortified Switzerland's defence.

Fernandes was disciplined in his positioning, as Swiss manager Ottmar Hitzfeld planned to take the game into penalties.

Fernandes covered 126 metres per minute, which was more than compatriot Gokhan Inler (111 metres per minute), per

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Fernandes Positives

Predominantly a central midfielder, Fernandes has Swiss Army knife functionality being able to slot in at right-back, right wing and left wing.

The pillar of Freiburg's midfield, Fernandes was the second most prolific tackler per game in the Bundesliga (3.7) last season.

League Only Tackles Per Game Fouls Per Game Tackles Per Foul Interceptions Per Game
Darren Fletcher 0.7 0.3 2.7 1.3
Gelson Fernandes 3.7 2.1 1.8 1.5
Marouane Fellaini 2.8 2.1 1.3 1.9
Michael Carrick 2.1 0.4 5.1 2.8
Tom Cleverley 2.2 0.7 3.0 1.5

Fernandes plays with indefatigable spirit and is an industrious runner, shown when outpacing Hertha Berlin's midfield and defence.

What makes Fernandes important to Freiburg is his quick-passing combined with his ball-winning prowess.

He completed 83.4 percent of his passes and 60.7 percent were forward passes, per

Fernandes' up-tempo style complemented Freiburg central midfielder Vladimir Darida, who was often in advanced positions to receive a swiftly-released pass from Fernandes.

It was not just Darida who profited.

After stealing the ball, Fernandes split open the Mainz defence with a through-ball to Freiburg centre-forward Sebastian Freis.

Hannover 96 right-winger Lars Stindl was caught in possession by Fernandes, who threaded a pass between Hannover centre-backs—Marcelo Guedes and Andre Hoffmann—to Freiburg centre-forward Admir Mehmedi.

While Fernandes only scored one league goal, he finished like a No. 9 when he adroitly curled the ball past then-Eintracht Braunschweig (now Grasshopper) goalkeeper Daniel Davari.

Fernandes Negatives

Fernandes is in the same category as Crystal Palace central midfielder Mile Jedinak, West Bromwich Albion defensive midfielder Claudio Yacob and Liverpool central midfielder Lucas Leiva.

Hard-working midfielder but not an elite footballer.

Is Fernandes a necessity for United? No.

A facet of Fernandes' game he needs to improve is getting his 83.4 pass completion percentage into the high 80s or low 90s.

Yes, he passes the ball briskly, but he needs to transition into a more metronomic passer.

Given Fernandes' frenetic style, he is prone to lapses in judgement, such as losing control of the ball against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bottom Line

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Van Gaal is always looking to give unheralded players a chance, like Mousa Dembele at AZ, a late-bloomer whose football CV at the time included Germinal Beerschot and Willem II.

Dembele played his part in AZ's Eredivisie triumph and has since taken his game to the next level playing in the Premier League for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur since 2010.

Edson Braafheid and Danijel Pranjic were signed to bolster Van Gaal's Bayern Munich squad.

Leroy Fer, Paul Verhaegh, Jonathan de Guzman and Ron Vlaar have all received playing time under Van Gaal at the World Cup. 

Like Van Gaal, Fernandes has experienced football in different countries. 

While Fernandes is not a big-name, he is a seasoned professional, who can play in a variety of positions.

Fernandes would be an archetypal Van Gaal squad signing at United.


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