Bruno Fernandes could be about to miss out on dream Man Utd shirt number

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Bruno Fernandes has been hoping to get his hands on the No 8 shirt at Manchester United for some time now. It’s recently looked as though the wait will end this summer, however, with many expecting Juan Mata to depart. Yet new comments made by the Spain international suggests his team-mate may have to wait a little while longer.

Mata looked to have played at Old Trafford for the last time recently, with the veteran putting in a vintage display as United swept Brentford aside at the start of the month.

However, speaking to The Athletic, the playmaker has now suggested his fate isn’t sealed yet.

Mata has admitted he’s due to talk with Erik ten Hag, who will be United’s new manager having agreed to take over from Ajax on a three-year contract.

“I will see when we speak how we feel, what his ideas are, after that a decision will be made,” he said.

And Mata’s comments suggest the United star could end up staying at Old Trafford, even though he’s no longer the player he was.

Should that happen, then it means Fernandes will have to face missing out on the No 8 shirt once again.

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The Portugal international donned that number during his time at Sporting Lisbon, where he established himself as one of the best talents the country has to offer.

But Fernandes has been unable to claim it ever since his arrival at United back in the January transfer window of 2020.

When he touched down in the Premier League over two years ago, he opted to take the No 18 shirt.

It had previously been worn by Ashley Young, who departed to Inter Milan, and had also been previously sported by Paul Scholes during his glittering time at the club.

And Fernandes explained he picked the number because it had eight in it, among other reasons.

“There are a lot of reasons for the no.18,” he told United’s official website at the time.

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“It’s a number I like.

“The last three years I have played as No.8 because it’s the number my father had as a player and my birthday and it’s the number I like.

“Number 18 is also the birthday of my wife and another reason is, when I grew up, I saw Paul Scholes playing in it and for me having this shirt and this number of an amazing player is something I will enjoy.

“I know I have a lot of responsibility.”

Last year, Fernandes made a joke about the shirt when Mata announced he’d signed a one-year extension with the club.

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“I guess I’ll have to wait for the number 8 another year,” he said on social media.

And Mata then responded by making a joke of his own, with the former Chelsea and Valencia star saying: “At least another year!

“I think he’s happy that I’m staying and I’m happy to be playing with him. We’ve got a great relationship since he came and, of course, he’s been brilliant for us on and off the pitch.

“He’s also a great guy and an example for others. Unfortunately for him, he will have to be patient!”

More patience, it seems, could now be required.

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United could decide to keep Mata due to his technical skills, with the Spain international the sort of player Ten Hag loves.

And whether that ultimately ends up happening is something only time will tell.

Meanwhile, Mata has also lamented United’s failure to win the Premier League title – particularly after deciding to stay when they signed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

“I am gonna be very honest, when we made the signings we made I genuinely felt, ‘We are gonna really compete to win the Premier League now,’” he said.

“That’s why I renewed, I wanted to be part of that.

“One of the things I always say: winning a massive trophy with Manchester United would be an incredible feeling after being here for so many years, knowing the fans and everyone working in the club like I do.”

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