It’s the swagger. For fans fed too long on mediocrity and making do, he exudes a confidence that is intoxicating. Not arrogance, not conceit. Just unequivocal certainty about his own talent. In a team largely populated by roundheads, he is a swashbuckling cavalier. A heavyweight Bruno more redolent of the imperious Ali than the hapless Frank.

And it’s the ease. While all around him sinews are strained, his economy of effort makes every movement seem wonderfully simple. He has time that others lack, time to make decisions, time to take a touch and make a pass. He finds space that others do not see, space between the lines, space to influence the game. He covers the ground without you noticing. It just seems to happen. Naturally, impossibly, magically. It must be that hat of his.

Goodison last month was pretty miserable for a whole host of reasons, but the one advantage of being only a few rows from the pitch was the perspective it offered, or lack of it. In all the clutter of bodies and lack of space, amidst the disjointed, staccato rhythms of misplaced passes and furious blocks, it was possible to see how small windows of time and space opened up. And always it was Bruno Guimarães who was occupying them, demanding the ball, receiving it and moving it on, before finding space again. If the orchestra was off the beat, it wasn’t for lack of energy and precision from its new leader. Against Wolves, we saw the full range of his repertoire.

Four hundred minutes of football is hardly enough to begin drawing statistical conclusions, but sometimes the pattern is so clear as to be impossible to ignore. Take a look, for example, at Bruno’s ranking against all other United outfield players on a range of key measures. Hint: you don’t need a degree in data science to interpret the table.

Whether we’re looking at passing, possession, attack, or defence, Bruno already stands at the centre of everything the team does. As much of a goal threat as Saint Maximin, a better long passer than Shelvey (88% vs 69% completion), more effective than Joelinton as a defensive enforcer, and more involved even than Trippier, it is an all-round contribution that is truly remarkable.

All the scouting reports stressed Bruno’s range of passing, in particular his ability to switch play and to slide the ball incisively between full back and centre back. That ability, together with his comfort in possession and ability to find space, enables him to play creatively between the lines. But his physical attributes and reading of the game mean he can play a defensive role too. It was for that reason that he was deployed at Lyon not only as a pivot (or no. 6 to use the continental shorthand) behind more advanced midfielders but also as one of those more forward-thinking no. 8s.

The main weakness in his game, we were told, was his goal threat, a suggestion apparently born out by just three goals in 56 league appearances for OL. But with Shelvey as the deep-lying pivot in Howe’s three-man midfield, it’s that more advanced position that the Brazilian has tended to adopt for United. Having managed just three shots inside the box for Lyon this season, he’s already chalked up seven in less than a quarter of the playing time for us. If he continues to snatch a little at those chances, we can probably forgive him if he’s going to score backheeled volleys like at St Mary’s.

How good is he? There’s no doubt he would walk into any team outside the top six. Would he improve the Man Utd midfield? Without doubt, although that’s a pretty low bar these days. Arsenal, Spurs? That’s not a stretch at all. And considering Liverpool started with Jordan Henderson the other day, there’s perhaps only Man City and Chelsea whose midfield would not benefit from his addition.

Perhaps most tellingly, the Brazil manager, Tite, has compared Guimarães to Kevin de Bruyne. “We lack a midfielder who can distribute balls. Someone like Falcao in the past. Or like De Bruyne nowadays, capable of bringing more binding, creativity, speed and rhythm. Bruno has enormous potential and can be that player.” Pinch yourself, but someone who recently appeared in a chart of the best passers in world football currently plies his trade on Barrack Road.

As such, the only real question should be how good he can be. With the quality he has, there’s no doubt he can improve his composure in front of goal. His tendency to overrun presses and to be dispossessed when dribbling are his only other weaknesses, both products of his confidence and ambition. With every game in the Premier League, he’ll gain a better feel for when not to overplay.  And remember, he’s only twenty-four. Developing in Howe’s culture of constant improvement and with the attitude that did not balk at coming to a relegation-threatened team, he’s only going to get better.

Of course, his real value goes far beyond what he offers on the pitch, through his own efforts and in the here and now. If Trippier’s signing was a statement for today – and it’s notable how his own contribution in touches, passes, and carries set new standards overnight, just as Bruno’s have – then Bruno’s is a statement for tomorrow. With his quality and age, he acts as both the benchmark for summer signings and the example that can draw others.

Wood, Burn, and Targett have made an immense and immediate impact. A squad built on their qualities of professionalism will always compete. But to effect the next stage in the kind of transformation talked about by Staveley and Ghodoussi there will need to be at least one more signing to match Bruno’s profile in the summer – young, much coveted, a genuine world-class player. Darwin Núñez, anyone? With Bruno leading the sales pitch, that might not be so far-fetched.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731