Bruno Fernandes has denied claims that playing with Cristiano Ronaldo,a colleague from Manchester United and Portugal, makes it difficult for him to perform at his best.
In 46 appearances across all competitions, the 27-year-old enjoyed another successful season for the 20-time English champions in 2021-22, tallying 10 goals and 14 assists.
However, the attacker struggled at times during the campaign to perform at his peak, and there are theories that Ronaldo's arrival at Old Trafford disrupted his routine. The 37-year-old, who has only scored once for the Red Devils this season, has stated that he enjoys playing alongside Fernandes.
"Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don't think (it is fair).
"I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers. I don't think it is about Cristiano,"
Fernandes told The Athletic.
"Before he came I was taking the penalties but I had two chances to take them last season and I missed both. So I cannot blame Cristiano for taking penalties, especially when he scores them."
"When I missed against Arsenal in April, it was him who gave me the ball and said, 'Go yourself and score'. I missed but I felt that he trusted me to be the one to step up in the big moment."
"So I don't think it is because of Cristiano, it is because I didn't do the best in myself in some moments to get goals or assists. In the national team I play with him and when I score, he is on the pitch."
"To play with Cristiano as a number 10 is actually really good because players respect him so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring."
"They want to mark him and they create an overload where he is to mark him. When I scored two goals against North Macedonia (in March's World Cup play-off), one was from his assist and the other was from his run, which created the space behind him for me to score."
"I played the last four Premier League games without Cristiano starting and I scored only one goal. So it is not because of Cristiano. Sometimes it goes in a bad way and sometimes a better way."
Ronaldo was heavily rumoured to be leaving Manchester United over the summer, but the forward remained at Old Trafford as the transfer window closed. Following his return from Juventus, the Portuguese scored 24 goals and recorded three assists in 38 appearances at the club level during the 2021-22 season.
The former Sporting Lisbon youth has had trouble earning starts in the Premier League this year, but Fernandes has been an important member of Erik ten Hag's team, taking the captain's armband recently after Harry Maguire was benched.
For more Sports updates please follow us on Twitter