Fernandes has become a crucial member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side over the past year, having sealed a £67million move from Sporting back in January.
The Portuguese midfielder proved instrumental in United’s third-place finish last term, as well as their current run of seven games unbeaten which has lifted them to third in the table this season.
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And while Harry Maguire is the man who wears the captain’s armband at Old Trafford, Neville has identified Fernandes as the Red Devils’ “leader by example”.
The United legend said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football: “There’s Paul Pogba, there’s David de Gea, there’s Maguire, they’ve all been captain of the team, [Edinson] Cavani with his experience.
“He (Fernandes) is the leader in that team, leader by example. Leader by what he does when he gives the ball away, he sprints straight after it.
“Every time the team are on the ball, he wants the ball. Every time he gets the ball, he wants to play a pass that matters.
“He’s transformed, I’d say, the whole club from a point of view of if he doesn’t play, it’s a massive problem, and that’s a big issue when you’re almost reliant on him.“Of all the midfield players they’ve got – [Donny] Van de Beek, Pogba, Fred, [Nemanja] Matic, [Scott] McTominay – he is just the one absolutely out there as the one of those three midfield players that pick themselves.
“Fernandes has been an absolute sensation at United – he’s the leader of that team and if it’s not him wearing the armband, he could be.”
Fernandes has registered 25 goals and 15 assists in 42 appearances for United, with 17 goals and 12 assists coming in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old was on the scoresheet twice in United’s 6-2 thrashing of Leeds at the weekend, first tucking the ball into the bottom-left corner after 20 minutes before netting from the penalty spot 25 minutes into the second half.
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