Man Utd have new Ronaldo and Rooney as Erik ten Hag hits the jackpot

Examining Man Utd's next five Premier League games

Manchester United may have a new partnership that can rival the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney during the glory days at Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag has demanded an attacking improvement this season, and that’ll be hard to avoid with Bruno Fernandes and Rasmus Hojlund in his ranks.

Fernandes has flourished into one of Europe’s best midfielders since his £47million arrival in January 2020.

Since the start of the 2020/21 season, the 29-year-old has created more chances than any other player in the Premier League – 317. That’s 51 more than Kevin De Bruyne and 70 more than Trent Alexander-Arnold.

But United’s wastefulness in attack, leading to poor team results for most of his stay, has perhaps contributed to his absence from the elite conversation.

Fernandes has helped bump up the numbers, registering 65 goals and 55 assists in 189 appearances for the Red Devils.

And he hasn’t put his foot off the gas on international duty, scoring 17 times and providing 16 assists in 59 caps for Portugal.

His most recent showcase of creative class helped Roberto Martinez’s side hammer Luxembourg 9-0 on Monday, producing three assists in less than an hour and a goal to top it off.

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In Hojlund, United have splashed £72m on an inexperienced striker. But the 20-year-old’s eye for a goal, physicality and athletic presence promise there is a gem there to be unlocked.

His international exploits are just as impressive as Fernandes’, scoring six goals in his first seven caps for Denmark.

Hojlund is the joint-top goalscorer in UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying alongside Scott McTominay and Romelu Lukaku. He was born for the big occasion.

And there will be plenty of those at United. Ten Hag may only have Fernandes at his peak for a few more years, but Hojlund is destined to lead the line for the next decade.

He will be expected to start quickly – that comes naturally with switching Atalanta for a global powerhouse in United, especially as the club’s most expensive-ever striker.

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But Fernandes could be the perfect man to unlock his potential early on. And if the duo click this season, Ten Hag will have his own Ronaldo and Rooney.

The two Old Trafford icons – born in the same year before enjoying similarly decorated careers – provided both goals and assists across their five years playing together under Sir Alex Ferguson.

For three of their years together at United, one assisted the other on 20 separate occasions. That is the level Ten Hag will want Fernandes and Hojlund to reach.

Fernandes’ creative prowess speaks for itself, and Hojlund has already showcased eye-catching link-up capabilities at such a young age.

Nothing can be guaranteed in football, but United may soon learn they have struck gold.

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