Bruno Fernandes said the relentless pursuit of perfection by Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo feeds his own desire to keep churning out impressive numbers at Manchester United.
Fernandes has scored 10 goals and provided seven assists in the Premier League this term to help the Red Devils climb up to second in the table.
The midfielder is the first Portuguese player to reach double figures for goals in the competition since the 2008-09 campaign when Ronaldo achieved it as a United player.
United have lost just three of their 29 Premier League games since Fernandes made his debut at the start of February 2020 (won 18, drawn eight), going unbeaten in each of the last nine (won seven, drawn two).
Fernandes has also been directly involved in 32 goals in 29 games in the Premier League (18 goals, 14 assists) since he joined United from Sporting CP in January 2020.
The 26-year-old’s tally of 14 assists in 29 games is the quickest a player has arrived at that total in the competition’s history.
Juventus forward Ronaldo turns 36 next February but with 12 goals this season is Serie A’s leading scorer and his powers show little sign of waning, which is a source of inspiration to his compatriot.
“If you see Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi, they are improving all seasons. How is this possible?” Fernandes said in an interview on United’s website.
“Everyone says it’s impossible to do better but, every season, they do better and better and better. It is 11 years fighting for a Ballon d’Or and this will never happen again.
32 – Bruno Fernandes and Mohamed Salah were directly involved in the most Premier League goals in 2020, however the Portuguese had 32 combined goals and assists in four fewer appearances than Salah. Catalysts. #OptaReview2020 pic.twitter.com/aMb7gQUwki
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 31, 2020
“It will never happen again in the story of football because they are still improving and I have the chance to be with Cristiano in the national team.
“I see the way he wants to improve every time, in free-kicks, in shots, in headers, in penalties and you want everything.
“You want to improve every time. When you lose, he knows he has to improve more and when you win, he understands he needs to go to the details of the good [work] to improve a little bit more.
“In everything in life, you have to improve and understand you’re not the worst and you are not the best.
“There is always time to improve. It’s impossible to be the worst because you have time to improve, and it’s impossible to be the best because you always have time to improve.”
United’s players, along with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have endured periods of criticism this season but Fernandes claimed they have been able to shrug off any negativity.
“The club have a lot of media behind, a lot of people talking,” added Fernandes ahead of their clash with Aston Villa at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day.
“They will be talking all the time. They want to talk when you lose, they don’t want to talk when you win, because it is better to attack than to defend the club.
“I think the most important thing is, inside of the group, we understand what we have to do, what we have to improve, where we are and where we want to go.
“For me, the most important thing is like when we lose, we are not the worst.”
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