The Manchester United links with Sporting Lisbon star Bruno Fernandes just won’t go away. A bid of £50million plus bonuses is believed to have been made this past week, after United chiefs Ed Woodward and Matt Judge met with Sporting chiefs in London on Friday.
The meeting, which took place for several hours, failed to result in a breakthrough, with Sporting President Frederico Varandes and Director Hugo Viana given the weekend to mull over the offer.
A swap deal has been mooted, with Sporting concerned that losing one of their star players mid-season will leave them with little time to bring in a replacement. Hence a deal involving a United player leaving for Portugal may prove favourable for Sporting, who are fourth in Primeira Liga.
Bruno Fernandes is wanted by Manchester United in a £50million move this transfer window
The Sporting Lisbon captain has flourished into one of Europe’s most talented midfielders
For all the talk of big money fees and player swaps, little has been said of what Fernandes makes of the saga. The 25-year-old is aware of the situation and has informed the club that he is keen to join United.
However, as was the case with Tottenham in August, it’s not in the Portuguese’s character to force a move to England, having signed an extended deal in June making him the highest paid player in the club’s history.
There’s a reason why Bruno Fernandes is a man in demand. This is a player all coaches dream of having in the dressing room: talented, very intelligent, provides assists, scores goals, but above all, is the complete professional, loyal and a true leader.
The 25-year-old has displayed loyalty to every club he’s played for throughout his career
These characteristics have been on display from a very early age, even though he didn’t follow the conventional path of playing for any of the main Portuguese clubs in his youth.
Fernandes started at Infesta and at 12 years of age he was already earmarked as a natural leader. The midfielder was the first to arrive at training and the last to leave. His on-field talent did not go unnoticed and Fernandes moved onto Pasteleira, a club recognized as a reputable talent-developer before switching to Boavista. Only the three main Portuguese clubs, Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting, did not initially see the talent that Bruno possessed.
In 2012 Fernandes took the bold step of leaving his homeland behind to chance his arm in Italy, with lowly Novara. He took to Italy immediately, earning himself a move to Udinese where he planted roots for three years.
A switch to Sampdoria soon followed before Europe’s big clubs came calling. Benfica and Valencia expressed an interest in signing the creative midfielder, but Fernandes pledged his loyalty to Sampdoria.
While at Sampdoria, the creative midfielder turned down Benfica and Valencia to stay in Italy
He has rejected bonus payments worth £5million as he is aware of Sporting’s financial woes
A year later, however, he decided to return to Portugal. Sporting came calling and Fernandes decided it was time to bring his family home. And it was in his homeland that his development has gone from strength to strength, as a footballer and as a leader.
At 25 years of age, Bruno Fernandes has become the complete football player. His flawless sense of positioning, his potent long-distance shots and his tactical intelligence make him one of Europe’s most dangerous midfielders. He’s a midfielder who has quality with the ball and without it, like his idols, Xavi, Iniesta, Pirlo and Zidane, and is able to guide his team-mates through tight games.
What could Bruno Fernandes be missing? In addition to requiring more disciplinary control in midfield, perhaps his physique could improve, as he is susceptible to being knocked off the ball.
Two years ago Sporting were in crisis after a group of supporters attacked players at training
A number of players attempted to leave the club, including Rui Patricio, who moved to Wolves
Two years ago, Sporting went through a crisis. A number of players revoked their contracts after they were attacked by their own supporters at the training ground. The most notable exit was Rui Patricio, who went on to join Wolves. Knowing everything the club had done for him Fernandes convinced dragged almost all his teammates to stand by the club. His agent negotiated an improved contract with a higher salary, but he declined, and kept the same salary.
Interestingly, Fernandes’ contract stipulated that any offer of more than £30million would earn the midfielder a bonus payment of £5million. That clause was triggered on a number of occasions last summer but Fernandes refused the extra payment, having been aware of the financial trouble the club was facing.
But Fernandes stayed, and convinced his team-mates to stick with the club through the spell
He has also stayed loyal to those around him, rejecting Jorge Mendes to stay with his agent
But it’s not just for the club that Bruno Fernandes shows loyalty. There are several agents knocking on his door, Jorge Mendes, Mino Raiola, Pini Zahavi, but he has always been loyal to his brother-in-law, Miguel Pinho, who manages his career.
With offers from Tottenham, PSG and now Manchester United, it would be hardly surprising to have seen Fernandes force a move. But he never did. He is accutely aware of his importance to the team, to the fans and also the financial effort Sporting made to make him the highest paid player in the club’s history with a salary of almost five million.
He has also been honest with Sporting about his desires to go to England, but has waited patiently. He will continue to wait for Sporting and Manchester United to reach an agreement, since he was already waiting to stay until June in Portugal. And then yes, leave. But, with the knowledge that Sporting are out of the title race and the United links have reared its head once again, a move to Old Trafford seems agonisingly close for Bruno Fernandes.
Now Fernandes hopes Sporting will repay his loyalty by granting the United move he craves