The Portugal midfielder, now 25, is poised to join Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in a £47m deal which could rise to £67.7m – and he is a player not afraid to take on responsibility.
After joining Novara in Italy from Boavista at the age of 17, without having played a first-team game in Portugal, he moved to Udinese.
He stayed for three years before causing a stir on his arrival at Sampdoria by taking on the jersey forever connected with club legend and current Italy boss Roberto Mancini.
“It was quite a big thing at the time moving to Sampdoria and demanding the number 10 shirt,” says Italian football writer Danielle Vieri.
“At Udinese he played a number of roles and at times operated in an Andrea Pirlo type position in front of defence.
“So he showed confidence because people were talking about it being Mancini’s shirt and if he was capable of living up to the expectations that came with that.
“Again in the Rio Olympics in 2016 with Portugal, he decided to wear the number 10 shirt and I think he started to see himself very much as someone who could perform in that playmaker role.”
- With Fernandes’ on-off January transfer saga about to end, can he go on to translate his standout talent – and confidence – from the Italian and Portuguese leagues into success at Old Trafford?