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Manchester United confirm they have reached agreement for Bruno Fernandes

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Manchester United FINALLY confirm they have struck a deal for Bruno Fernandes as Sporting Lisbon star all-but completes £68m move and prepares to fly for Old Trafford medical

  • Manchester United have reached an agreement to sign Bruno Fernandes 
  • The Portuguese midfielder flew to the UK from Lisbon on Wednesday evening 
  • The initial fee is £46.6m, but that could rise to as much as £68m with add-ons
  • United confirmed the signing, subject to medical, on Wednesday afternoon
  • It brings to a close the longest-running transfer saga of the January window 

Manchester United have agreed a deal with Sporting Lisbon to sign midfielder Bruno Fernandes, subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms. 

The midfielder is expected to put pen to paper on a five-year deal after his protracted move was all but sealed on Wednesday evening. 

Sportsmail revealed that United and Sporting had agreed a deal on Tuesday which could be worth almost £68million after an initial fee of £46.6m. 

Manchester United have reached agreement with Sporting Lisbon to sign Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United have reached agreement with Sporting Lisbon to sign Bruno Fernandes

Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes was all smiles as he sealed his United transfer

Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes was all smiles as he sealed his United transfer

Fernandes played his final game for Sporting Lisbon on Monday against Maritimo

Fernandes played his final game for Sporting Lisbon on Monday against Maritimo

HOW THE FERNANDES DEAL WORKS OUT… 

Total potential transfer fee: £67.8m

Initial fee: £46.6m

Add-ons (based on appearances and CL qualification): £8.5m

Long-term add-ons: £12.7m 

Fernandes was at the head office of Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday afternoon to terminate his contract with the Portuguese club.

He is expected to record a goodbye message to Sporting fans before making his way to Tires Airport to fly in a private jet to Manchester for his medical. 

A statement released by United on Wednesday afternoon read: ‘Manchester United is delighted to announce it has reached agreement with Sporting Clube de Portugal for the transfer of Bruno Fernandes.

‘The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.’ 

Sporting posted a compilation of some of Fernandes’ finest moments in their colours on their Twitter account.

They wrote: ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them’.

‘Obrigado Capitao. Para sempre Leao (Thanks captain. Forever Lion)’

Assuming Fernandes passes his medical, he could feature in United’s home Premier League fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday evening. 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be delighted to get the Fernandes deal done

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be delighted to get the Fernandes deal done

United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will also be relieved to seal the deal

United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will also be relieved to seal the deal

A video had emerged on social media of Fernandes being interviewed by Portuguese broadcaster SIC, the 25-year-old was filmed getting into a car and was asked about his switch to United.

Asked if his preferred option was to move to the Premier League, Bruno said: ‘It always was.’  

The deal brings an end to the longest running saga of the January transfer window.

A video emerged of 25-year-old being interviewed by Portuguese television as he got into car

A video emerged of 25-year-old being interviewed by Portuguese television as he got into car 

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Wednesday Manchester City (A)

EFL Cup semi-final, second leg

Saturday Wolves (H)

February 17 Chelsea (A)

February 20 Club Bruges (A)

Europa League last 32, first leg

February 23 Watford (H)

February 27 Club Bruges (H)

Europa League last 32, second leg

Negotiations broke down between United and Sporting last summer over the valuation, and were in danger of doing so again this month with Sporting steadfastly sticking to their £67.8m for Fernandes who has established himself as one of the most prolific midfielders in Europe.

United refused to meet the asking price and there were concerns that the deal was on the verge of collapse.

However, United’s stance paid off on Tuesday when they raised their offer slightly and Sporting accepted, ending the long-running transfer saga. 

United were prepared for the negotiations to drag on until the final day and were surprised when the Portuguese club relented. 

The Portugal international has fashioned himself into one of Europe's most prolific midfielders

The Portugal international has fashioned himself into one of Europe’s most prolific midfielders

BRUNO FERNANDES – 2019-20 STATS

Appearances: 28

Goals: 15

Assists: 14

United will hope Fernandes, who scored 32 goals in all competitions for Sporting last season, will be able to add some much-needed attacking spark to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield.

During his two-and-a-half years in the Portuguese capital, the 25-year-old has scored 64 goals and created more chances than any other player in the league.

Fernandes, who has 19 caps for Portugal, has won three domestic cups in his two full seasons with Sporting.

He began his senior career in Italian football with Novara, before joining Udinese and Sampdoria in Serie A. 

‘He’s a universal midfielder’: Fernandes backed by former coach Guidolin

Bruno Fernandes has been backed to thrive in the Premier League by one of his most influential coaches, former Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin.

Guidolin, who worked with Fernandes during his spell at Udinese was once described by the 25-year-old as ‘one of the most influential coaches in Italy and my career’.

The manager exclusively told Sportsmail: ‘Manchester United have made a big purchase if they take Fernandes. He is a golden boy, always available and intelligent.

Bruno Fernandes developed at Udinese under the tutelage of manager Francesco Guidolin

Bruno Fernandes developed at Udinese under the tutelage of manager Francesco Guidolin

‘He came from Novara, we (Udinese) paid him very little. The Pozzo family, also owners of Watford, have always invested heavily in young talent.

‘He was very shrewd, quick and communicative, a Portuguese of great quality. In Udinese we played in Europe: he was good at becoming important starting from the bench.

‘He talked a lot with me and I’m glad he called me the best coach I’ve had in Italy.’

In terms of the role Fernandes will play in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, Guidolin thinks he works best as a balanced central midfielder.

He continued: ‘For me Bruno Fernandes is a great box-to-box midfielder. I don’t think he will have any difficulty.

Guidolin was described by Fernandes as one of the most influential coaches in his career

Guidolin was described by Fernandes as one of the most influential coaches in his career

‘He is perfect for the Premier League because in the UK they are looking for very technical and fast players.

‘His role is that of a universal midfielder: he can play as a left and right midfielder or in the middle.

‘In a 4-2-3-1 he can make a right or left wing and also be the playmaker. Sure, he can’t play as a No 9 but he’s one of the few players who can play most roles.’

How will he fit in at United? 

What position does Fernandes play?

Fernandes may wear the No 8 shirt for Sporting Lisbon but his true role is as the classic No 10, dictating things just behind the forward line.

It’s in this attacking midfield role that Fernandes feels most comfortable and is most effective when it comes to making full use of his attributes.

But on occasion, depending on the formation being used, Fernandes has occupied a slightly deeper role in central midfield.

Very infrequently, he has appeared for Sporting on the left side of the midfield but it’s the central attacking midfield role we’re most likely to see him in.

Bruno Fernandes celebrates after scoring for Sporting Lisbon against Vitoria this month

Bruno Fernandes celebrates after scoring for Sporting Lisbon against Vitoria this month

What are the strengths of his game?

Fernandes has a well-honed game for a 25-year-old with many strings to his bow. He’s young enough to continue learning new tricks as well, which he’d certainly have to do at United.

His sense of positioning is impressive while his tactical intelligence has been noted in his development into one of Europe’s most dangerous midfielders.

Having idolised and modelled his game on the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo and Zinedine Zidane, Fernandes has developed methods to break down even the most stubborn defences.

This may come courtesy of an incisive through pass, spreading the play to a wide player in space or a long-distance shot of his own.

Fernandes packs a potent strike from range, which will no doubt prove useful and spectacular, and his goal returns from midfielder are certainly impressive.

This season, he has scored 15 goals and created a further 14 in all competitions for Sporting, while last season he ended up with 31 goals and 19 assists.

Fernandes takes on Holland's Georginio Wijnaldum in the Nations League in June 2019

Fernandes takes on Holland’s Georginio Wijnaldum in the Nations League in June 2019

United will obviously hope he can replicate those kind of returns but what they really need is a player that can help them break down the packed defences that give them so much trouble at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer’s side have excelled against teams that come and attack them because they’re so strong on the counter, but have often struggled against more negative, ‘smaller’ sides.

They will hope that Fernandes will help them pick the lock one way or another.

Are there any areas of his game that could be improved?

The physicality of the Premier League could prove an issue for Fernandes as it has been noted that he is pushed off the ball quite easily. Such an issue was noted during his time in Italy earlier in his career.

He may have to beef up a little bit to avoid being brushed aside by some of the strong central midfielders and centre-halves he will come into contact with.

And there are also justifiable concerns about his own discipline. Fernandes was booked 16 times last season (though he wasn’t sent off) and has seen a yellow card nine times this campaign (with one red).

The Portuguese Primeira Liga does use the Video Assistant Referee, so at least Fernandes is accustomed to that, but he may want to watch his step a little in the Premier League.

Fernandes scores his second goal for Sporting Lisbon against Vitoria earlier this month

Fernandes scores his second goal for Sporting Lisbon against Vitoria earlier this month

How will he fit into the United side?

Solskjaer goes for a 4-2-3-1 system in the majority of United games, so Fernandes is most likely to play in the middle of the attacking three behind the centre forward.

This season, we’ve usually seen Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira occupy this position, so you’d expect a big money arrival like Fernandes to move above them in the pecking order.

If United are at full strength, he’ll typically have Marcus Rashford, out injured at the moment, to his left and Daniel James to his right, with Anthony Martial ahead as the centre forward.

United hope Fernandes will work well in tandem with Rashford and Martial

United hope Fernandes will work well in tandem with Rashford and Martial

Lingard is likely to be the player to make way for Fernandes after struggling for form

Lingard is likely to be the player to make way for Fernandes after struggling for form

The two holding midfielders behind him, who would be Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba when they recover their fitness, would take care of the defensive work so Fernandes doesn’t have to.

In the short-term, Fernandes will probably start with Fred and Nemanja Matic behind him.

The No 10 position is undoubtedly one that United needed to strengthen. Lingard has struggled for form for a long time and hasn’t scored in the Premier League since Solskjaer’s first game in caretaker charge in December 2018.

Brazilian Pereira is also likely to see less game time if Fernandes comes in at United

Brazilian Pereira is also likely to see less game time if Fernandes comes in at United

There have long been question marks as to whether Pereira is a United calibre player and his performances this season haven’t done him many favours. 

He has also now been linked with a move to Lisbon as part of the Fernandes deal.

Another possibility is for Fernandes to play behind a forward three of Rashford, Martial and James in a 4-2-1-3 with the two holding midfielders in behind.

ADAM SHERGOLD 

How could Fernandes fit into the United side? 



Manchester United confirm they have reached agreement for Bruno Fernandes

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