New Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has been assigned the club’s number 18 shirt, previously made famous by Old Trafford legend Paul Scholes and more recently vacated by former club captain Ashley Young following his January transfer to Inter.
Fernandes completed his long-awaited move from Sporting CP on Thursday after undergoing a medical and agreeing to personal terms. The deal is worth up to €80m, including various add-ons, with United paying an initial fee of €55m.
Fernandes’ squad number wasn’t revealed in the initial announcement, but agent Miguel Pinho posted an image on Instagram of his client holding up a United shirt bearing his name and digits.
Fernandes had been number eight at Sporting, but he was unable to take that at United because it remains occupied by Juan Mata. The number 16 jersey might have been another possibility following Marcos Rojo’s loan exit to Estudiantes, given that Fernandes wears that number for Portugal. But United tend not to take shirts away from players unless their departure is permanent.
Scholes was handed United’s number 18 shirt in 1996 after establishing himself in the first team the season before wearing 22. He kept it until his first retirement in 2011, at which point the jersey was handed over to Young following his arrival from Aston Villa that summer.
Young kept it until his move to Italy earlier this month, so when Scholes came out of retirement for 18 months in January 2012, he took his former number 22 shirt.
United fans will be hoping to see Fernandes in action for his new club as soon as possible. He has arrived in time to take part in the Premier League fixture against Wolves on Saturday evening and should be in good physical condition owing to regular games time at Sporting.
If he doesn’t make his debut this weekend, the 25-year-old will then have two weeks over the winter break to settle and grow more accustomed to his new teammates. United’s next game after that is not until Monday 17 February when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
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