There was a time not long ago when Bruno Fernandes was unplayable at club level but frustratingly ineffective in Portugal colours.
This culminated at Euro 2020 when he provided barely any threat at all for Fernando Santos’ side after registering 28 goals and 17 assists for Man United in 2020/21.
However, it could be argued that the roles are reversed these days.
The 28-year-old has mustered three goals and three assists in 20 appearances for the Red Devils this term, a return which represents a significant drop-off in tangible contributions from his first two years at Old Trafford.
Conversely, Fernandes’ output at international level since Euro 2020 has improved significantly.
His brace against Uruguay on Monday night made it nine goals and five assists in his last 17 outings.
This dramatic reversal has paid huge dividends in the realm of Dream Team World Cup this winter.
The midfielder’s double against Diego Alonso’s side had an element of fortune as it initially looked as if Cristiano Ronaldo had nodded home Fernandes’ inviting cross but the goal was soon awarded to the latter.
And Fernandes would not have taken Portugal’s stoppage-time penalty had his five-time Ballon d’Or winning team-mate not been substituted.
Still, the Navegadores’ No8 has played so well in his first two group games in Qatar that he’s earned his luck – plus, he was only denied a hat-trick by half a width of the post.
When all was said and done, Fernandes banked 18 points to add to the 11 he took off Ghana in the first round of fixtures.
His overall total of 29 sees him overtake Kylian Mbappe (28 points) to become Dream Team World Cup’s outright top performer at this stage.
What’s even more remarkable is the lead Fernandes has over his fellow midfielders – Bukayo Saka and Frenkie de Jong are his closest rivals and they’re both a full 11 points off the pace.
Speaking of the Dutchman, he’s the only asset other than Fernandes to have claimed two Star Man awards at this tournament so far.
With an ownership of 21%, the Man United playmaker is the third-most popular asset in his position at the time of writing but he’s likely to overtake Kevin De Bruyne (22.2% ownership) this week with an ageing Belgium at risk of elimination.
Vincius Junior remains the most-selected midfielder with an ownership of 32.4%.
With Portugal already assured of a spot in the round of 16, Fernandes’ price of £4.5m looks very reasonable although it’s not unthinkable that that he may have his minutes managed in some capacity against South Korea on Friday.
Enjoy the crown while you’ve got it, Bruno, Kylian plays again tomorrow afternoon…