Soccer-Chelsea's Tuchel hails 'outstanding' Fernandes ahead of United test

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Round of 32 Second Leg - Manchester United v Real Sociedad - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 25, 2021 Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has described Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes as one of the best midfielders in the world and said he tried to sign the Portugal international when he was in charge of Paris St Germain.

Fernandes, who arrived from Sporting in January last year, has been fundamental to United's resurgence that sees them sit second in the Premier League table ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea later on Sunday.

"The impact he has had is indescribable and unbelievable," Tuchel said of 26-year-old Fernandes, who has scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists in the Premier League this season.

"To come from Portugal, from a competitive team - a big club but not from the strongest league - and step to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and the strongest league in Europe... I have nothing but the biggest respect for this guy.

"It is outstanding. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, and he has a huge, huge impact and to have this as a single person in football, you must be absolutely top level because this is almost impossible."

Tuchel, who was in charge of PSG from 2018-20, said he was made aware of Fernandes' abilities by the French club's ex-sporting director Antero Henrique.

"My first sporting director in Paris knew him well," he said. "We fought hard to bring him to our team. We tried and he went another way. It is bad for us that we have to play against him (on Sunday)."

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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