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Manchester United’s Fernandes slams critics for comparing him to Arsenal winger Pepe

21:59 GMT+3 20/09/2022
Bruno Fernandes & Nicolas Pepe
The Portuguese midfielder expressed his disappointment at being judged ‘unfairly’

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has slammed critics for comparing him to Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side OGC Nice.

Fernandes has failed to recapture the great form he showed when he joined Manchester United in January 2020 with observers comparing him to Arsenal’s Ivorian winger Pepe.

The Portuguese midfielder scored eight goals upon signing for United for £58 million from Sporting Lisbon as the Red Devils finished third in the Premier League before he scored 28 while providing 13 assists in 2020-21.

His form dipped last season as he managed 10 goals and six assists and has managed one goal and an assist in six games this season so far, drawing criticism from pundits and fans.

Fernandes, however, has issues with how his form has been perceived in comparison to others and used Pepe as an example.

“He [Pepe] had some bad games and everyone was saying: 'He still has to adapt',” Fernandes told the Athletic.

“But when Bruno was having a bad game, it was just because he was moaning or not focused on the game. For me, that was good, because it meant that I was ready and that’s why they were demanding so much from me."

Pepe joined Arsenal for a club record £72 million in August 2019, arriving with a huge reputation after scoring 23 goals for French side Lille in 2018-19 and there were hopes that he could light up the Emirates Stadium.

That was not to be, however, as he managed eight goals in his first season before doubling that tally in 2020-21. He struggled for form and minutes last term, featuring in 23 games in all competitions, most of them as a substitute, and scored just three goals.

"It’s been three years since he joined the club and he’s had some very good moments, some others where he hasn’t really contributed that much to the team in terms of minutes,” Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said upon Pepe’s departure to Nice.

"We decided for every party it was the best decision to allow him to go. He needs to play football, he was really adamant to do that."