The Manchester City talisman has talked up the talents of a fellow countryman who has made a bright start to his career at the Theatre of Dreams

Bernardo Silva has described Bruno Fernandes as a “great player” who is capable of being a “leader” at Manchester United, ahead of Manchester City’s arrival at Old Trafford this weekend.

United forked out €55 million (£48m/$62m) to sign the highly-rated Portugal international from Sporting in January, and he has already begun to justify that fee with a string of outstanding performances.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have yet to taste defeat with Fernandes pulling the strings in midfield, recording four wins from their last seven games in all competitions.

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The 25-year-old has contributed three goals and three assists to United’s cause already, injecting a much-needed creative spark into a team which had previously struggled to carve out chances in the final third of the pitch.

He will likely retain a place in Solskjaer’s starting line up for a crucial derby encounter with City on Sunday, with Silva well aware of the threat the playmaker will pose to the reigning Premier League champions.

The City ace, who has witnessed Fernandes’ talents up close with Portugal, has highlighted a compatriot’s work rate and intelligence as the two key reasons behind his fast start at United.

“I’m not surprised how well he has started because he’s a great player,” Silva told Sport 360. “He’s a good friend of mine, I’ve played with him since we were in the Under-19s with Portugal.

“His qualities? He has a great work rate, very intelligent and he’s a guy who arrives very well in the box, scores a lot of goals, gets assists. He’s a crucial player and is showing that in the first few weeks.

“I’m happy for him, he’s had a great start. He asked me about Manchester and I said what I thought was right.

“It’s a great club for him, it’s a great opportunity and he’s doing great.

“I’m happy for him because he’s a friend, but I just don’t want him to win on Sunday. I want to beat him obviously.”

When asked why no top clubs had snapped up Fernandes before this season, Silva responded: “I don’t know why. He was quite expensive and sometimes it’s not easy to get a player like Bruno because teams always demand so much money for players like him.

“But I think he’s worth the value that they paid and he’s showing it right now. I think the people should stay calm though. Even though he’s a great player it’s just the beginning.

“People should give him space to work and to do his job well. It’s a good start and hopefully he can keep going that way.

“But he can handle the pressure, yes. He was Sporting’s captain for more than two seasons and he was the leader there – and I think he can be a leader at Man United as well.”

Silva went on to discuss the importance of the Manchester derby, while admitting that Old Trafford is always a “difficult” place to go and earn a positive result.

“It’s a very special game for the players, and for the fans and we want to give them this win,” he said.

“We know how difficult it is to play there. When you play against a team like Man Utd with their fans, the history and everything, it’s always special to play them.

“A derby is always a special game, requires pressure and passion from the fans. We are used to playing big games and these are the games we like to play.”

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