Pogba and Fernandes will improve together at Man Utd, says Maguire

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Harry Maguire expects Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to improve when the World Cup winner returns for Manchester United.

After a lengthy transfer saga, Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting CP in January in a deal worth up to £67.6million (€80m).

The Portugal international made an immediate impact at United, scoring three goals and assisting four more in nine appearances in all competitions.

Maguire believes Fernandes provided something new in midfield for the Red Devils and thinks he and Pogba, who has featured just eight times this season due to foot and ankle injuries, will continue to improve through competition.

Asked about Fernandes, Maguire told Sky Sports: "He's been brilliant since he's come in. He's been brilliant off the field, around the training ground.

"He's a leader who wants to win. Everything he does, he wants to win. You can tell he's been brought up with that attitude.

"He's given us that little bit more life, a little bit more creativity in the middle that United fans have said that we've missed over the years.

"It's a start. I'm sure there are a lot of aspects of his game that I'm sure he will improve, and I'm sure he will. I'm sure he will get better for this club.

"We've got Paul to come back as well, who will probably lift his game even more. We've got good competition in central midfield now – they know they're going to have to be on their game to keep their spot. I'm sure we will see the benefits."

United had hit a rich vein of form before the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, going unbeaten in 11 and conceding in just two of those games.

An improvement in defending set-pieces and consistency in selection at the back were key factors, according to Maguire.

"It's been a great run of form for clean sheets," said Maguire. "Sometimes, you defend better in games where you concede one or two goals, but you manage to keep clean sheets, maybe David [de Gea] pulls off one or two great saves, and then everyone praises the defence.

"One thing we have shored up on at the moment is defending set plays. If you look back at our record before this run of clean sheets, for defending set plays we were up there as one of the worst in the league.

"If you can't defend set plays and [you are] not scoring at the other end from them, you're not going to stand a chance in getting where you want to go.

"We've just gelled together more. It's a new back four, obviously Luke [Shaw] has been playing really, really well of late. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], me and Vic [Victor Lindelof], Eric [Bailly] is coming back and pushing for their place, which makes everyone up their game because, when he has come in, he's done well.

"We've got a settled back four, learning each other's games really well."