Barcelona manager Xavi has caused a stir after referring to Bruno Fernandes as ‘the Portuguese guy’ in the lead up to Thursday’s trip to Manchester United.
Barca were held to a 2-2 draw by the Red Devils at Camp Nou in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off last week.
Marcos Alonso’s opener was quickly canceled out by a scorching strike from Marcus Rashford, before a Jules Kounde own goal put United ahead. A cross-cum-shot from Raphinha rescued a draw for Barcelona.
Ahead of that first meeting, Xavi revealed his admiration of the job Erik ten Hag has overseen in his short time at United – a point he reiterated in a new interview with The Times.
“He is very good, I like him a lot,” Xavi said. “He has built a team and is getting the best out of all his players. That speaks well of him. Tactically he is very good and he handles the dressing room very well.”
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Xavi went on to praise the work Ten Hag has done improving individual players, though his choice to refer to vice-captain Fernandes as ‘the Portuguese guy’ has not gone down well in some United circles.
“He is getting all the talent out of his players. You see [Jadon] Sancho, Rashford, the Portuguese guy [Fernandes]. And look how Fred is playing,” he continued.
After a subpar 2021/22 campaign, Fernandes has returned to form this season, contributing seven goals and nine assists in 36 games for United so far, while he was also Portugal’s standout player at the FIFA World Cup.