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Manchester United’s five captaincy choices should Bruno Fernandes leave this summer



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Reports emerging on Tuesday morning have suggested that Bruno Fernandes’ future at Manchester United may be more uncertain than fans realise.

The club’s captain and talisman, it would certainly be a huge loss if Fernandes were to depart Manchester United this summer. Whilst it remains unlikely – the club would prefer to keep him – it has sparked a lot of discussion around how the club would replace him.

Positionally, that’s a separate topic. But in his role as captain, it is certainly not an easy ask. With the departure of Raphaël Varane being confirmed and Casemiro almost certain to leave, too, the senior options in the team are short.

Read More: Raphaël Varane announcement triggers INEOS’ latest transfer move

Harry Maguire will not be given back the captaincy, and this is more for his benefit than anything. He has played with less pressure since Fernandes replaced him.

Here, I have outlined a few options for the armband should Fernandes leave Old Trafford this summer.

#1 – Lisandro Martínez

Unfortunately, he has missed most of this season with injuries. However, Martínez brings a lot of fire to United’s squad, just as Fernandes has done since joining. He is one of the players who sets the standards and raises the team’s level, leading by example. A recent report stated that coaches have felt a drop in standards since his absence.

He is not afraid of taking responsibility and wears his heart on his sleeve for United. The Old Trafford crowd adores him, and should Fernandes leave, he would be one of the favourites in the current squad to take up the mantle.

#2 – Diogo Dalot

The other favourite in the current team, Diogo Dalot, is one of the only players who can walk out of this absolute disaster of a season with his head held high.

An ever-present amidst the violent waves of injuries, Dalot has been a standout performer on both sides of the defence for United this season. Like Licha, he is influential in possession, and his passion and dedication to the club stand out. His professionalism has been highlighted many times, and he is clearly well-regarded by the club.

His availability will be another thing that works in his favour. Dalot has been available almost all season, and with Fernandes’ abnormal availability being one of the biggest reasons he was named captain in the first place, it would make sense the club want this continued with a future captain.

#3 – Scott McTominay

Whilst more unlikely due to him not being a confirmed starter, you’d struggle to find a player who ‘gets’ Manchester United better than Scott McTominay does. He has captained United in two of Fernandes’ three absences in the league this season, away at Anfield in December and at home to Arsenal last Sunday. His professionalism, leadership qualities and adherence to expected standards have been highlighted ever since his breakout under Jose Mourinho.

McTominay as the club captain, with a starter such as Martínez or Dalot as vice-captain, would not be the worst thing in the world. It would be preferred for the captain to be a starter, but in terms of character, McTominay fits the bill incredibly well.

#4 – Marcus Rashford

His season has been disappointing, but is this how you revive Marcus Rashford?

He might have some trouble with consistency, and he might not always express his emotions in the best of ways. But one thing is clear: when Marcus Rashford is performing at his peak, he is Manchester United more than any other player at the club. His journey with the club has been special, and could the armband be the latest chapter?

It is probably not for the best that he takes the armband. Whilst the club confirming their commitment to the player would boost him, the added pressure of the armband is probably not needed when the priority should be getting him back to playing his best football again.

#5 – Matthijs de Ligt?

Wildcard option time.

The Dutchman is not a Manchester United player, but De Ligt has been appreciated by United for years. The club was strongly linked to him when he departed Ajax in the summer of 2019.

Links have surfaced here and there ever since, and it is likely that with Varane’s departure now confirmed, the Bayern Munich centre-back will almost certainly become one of United’s top targets in the position.

Giving new players the armband is always a risk, but if United were to sign someone like De Ligt, then it would not feel like a particularly big one. He captained Ajax at age 18 and is considered a key leader in Munich.

With a number of cultural architects leaving or potentially leaving the club this summer, the players who come in will need to have a huge cultural impact. Someone like De Ligt could be the leader United needs.