Bruno Fernandes’ latest Instagram remarks have done little to stop talk of dressing room rifts at Manchester United.
Mirror Football exclusively revealed on Thursday night that there is growing friction in the United dressing room, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire embroiled in a power struggle over the captaincy.
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick has called on Ronaldo to mentor the young players within the squad, which is understood to have led to friction with Maguire.
The England international is against the idea of relinquishing his role as club captain and handing the armband over to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner for the rest of the season.
A United source said: “Originally, Ronaldo was asking players to back Harry. But the problem is the manager now wants Ronaldo to mentor all these younger players.
“That’s left Harry in no man’s land, as he’s the captain and having to say and follow whatever Ronaldo says, to keep everything sweet.”
Now Portugal international Fernandes has uploaded a picture of himself between central defenders Eric Bailly and Raphael Varane accompanied with a caption that read: “Feeling very safe between these two.”
The snap along with that message, further hints at the escalating turmoil within the dressing room, with Maguire said to feel marginalised in terms of his authority and suggestions that factions are forming – including, most notably, a Portuguese-speaking clique, lead by Ronaldo.
Many fans on social media have already commented that Fernandes’ caption seems to suggest he prefers both Bailly and Varane as defenders over his current captain – whose recent form has led to questions over his position not just as captain, but in the side’s defence.
Indeed, coming just hours after the news of the growing tension, Fernandes’ upload could be interpreted as a subtle shot at Maguire.
Upon his return to Old Trafford last summer, Ronaldo was quick to urge all of his teammates to get behind Maguire.
When the side struggled to find form in recent months, the 37-year-old doubled down on that message.
But, in recent weeks, Ronaldo’s support is said to have deteriorated.
United and England striker Marcus Rashford broke ranks on Thursday to hit back at suggestions from Germany of a dressing-room divide which claimed he was unhappy with Ronaldo wanting greater power within the United dressing-room
Rashford wrote: “Are we just making it up as we go along now then? Please stop looking for divides.”
But more rifts in the United dressing room could scupper Rangnick’s brief reign in charge as well as the club’s hopes of Champions League qualification next season.