Emiliano Viviano claims he was "one of the few" who supported Bruno Fernandes during his time in Italy, with it his belief that the Manchester United star '"lacked tactical nous and intensity" in the earlier stages of his career.
Fernandes' professional journey began at Novara in 2012, where he spent one season before being snapped up by Udinese.
The Portuguese playmaker went on to appear in 95 games for the Serie A outfit, but never quite managed to live up to his full potential.
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Udinese eventually sold Fernandes to Sampdoria in 2016, however, he opted to return to his homeland after just one year at Luigi Ferraris Stadium when Sporting CP came calling.
José Alvalade Stadium proved to be the perfect place for the midfielder's talents to grow as he scored 63 goals and laid on 52 assists in 137 outings across all competitions, earning a regular place in Portugal's national squad in the process.
United were impressed enough to fork out €55 million (£50m/$66m) for Fernandes in January, and he has since taken his game to new heights under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.
Viviano says he quickly realised that the 26-year-old possessed the quality to reach the very highest level of the game while playing alongside him at Sampdoria, and that he just needed to develop a confident streak to take that next step.
The former Sampdoria goalkeeper told Tuttomercatoweb: “I was one of the few who supported him… Bruno has always had everything, it's just that when he arrived in Italy, he lacked tactical nous and intensity.
"He learned it and now he has exploded, also because he has everything: right foot, left foot, technique but also an incredible dribbling ability.
"He is a technical leader, what Manchester United perhaps lacked.”
Fernandes inspired United to a third-place Premier League finish and three semi-finals in 2019-20, and has picked up from where he left off at the start of the new season.
The ex-Sporting star already has 10 goals to his name, with his latest strike helping Solskjaer's men earn a crucial 3-2 win away at Southampton on Saturday.
Fernandes will be back in action with the rest of the Red Devils squad when Paris Saint-Germain arrive at Old Trafford for a Champions League group-stage encounter on Wednesday.