Steve McManaman has sensationally omitted Bruno Fernandes from his Team of the Year and justified it alongside a subtle dig.
The former Liverpool star was asked to name his side from 2020 and named a midfield of De Bruyne, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
The inclusion of Liverpool title-winners Henderson and Fabinho was predictable. But the decision to leave United talisman Fernandes out of the XI has incurred the wrath of the Old Trafford fans.
Fernandes has been sensational for United since he arrived 12 months ago from Sporting Lisbon.
The classy midfielder has contributed a staggering 43 goal involvements in his opening 45 matches for the club. He helped United finish in the top four last season and has helped guide the club to second place this time around.
In fact if the Premier League table started when Fernandes arrived, United would be joint top with Liverpool with a game in hand.
United paid an initial fee of around £46.6m to Sporting on January 31, 2020. Potential add-ons could take the overall deal to £68m, but he has been worth every penny so far. McManaman though claimed he would pick De Bruyne over him “every day”.
Asked about leaving Fernandes out, he told Amazon Prime: “I think he’s been incredible for them, I really do, but my team of the year needed to be with Fabinho and Henderson because they won the league by many, many points.
💪 Steve McManaman’s PL TEAM OF 2020 💪
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 30, 2020
“Then I’ve flung Kevin De Bruyne in because I just think he’s fantastic.
“If I have to choose between Kevin De Bruyne as my attacking midfielder, or Bruno Fernandes, De Bruyne wins every time.”
McManaman then made a gentle dig about Fernandes’ penalty haul, with 14 of his goals for the club coming from the spot.
He added: “I think he’s had an incredible impact for Manchester United, scoring an incredible amount of penalties.”
Sadio Mane, Harry Kane and Mo Salah were McManaman’s front three picks.
While he ignored Alisson in goal and picked Ederson from Manchester City.
Three of the back four were made up of the title-winning team. Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold all getting the nod alongside Fernandinho.
Liverpool chase Bremer
Liverpool are in a transfer battle with Everton for Torino defender Gleison Bremer, according to one journalist.
The Premier League champions are currently suffering from a shortage of senior options at the back. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are both out with long-term injuries, and Joel Matip has also suffered regular setbacks.
It has left Jurgen Klopp scrambling for reinforcements. So far, he has turned to academy graduates like Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
However, some pundits have warned that not making a signing in January to address their absences in defence would be a major gamble in their effort to retain their title.
Therefore, reports continue to link the club with a number of defenders – even if the message from the club is that they are not looking to make signings.
The latest name to emerge as an option is Bremer. The Brazilian has impressed for Torino in Serie A over the past couple of seasons.
Liverpool were linked with Bremer earlier this month. If that interest was genuine, it appears it remains.
According to Matteo Pedrosi of Corriere Granata, Liverpool are still keen on Bremer. They have apparently identified him as someone who could cover for their absences.