Manchester United have finally completed the signing of Bruno Fernandes in a £68million transfer from Sporting Lisbon.
The Portugal midfielder, who was Sporting’s captain, has put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half year deal at Old Trafford with an option for a further year after passing a medical
United have been long-term admirers of Fernandes and tried unsuccessfully to sign him last summer. They returned after an electrifying campaign so far in Portugal and his arrival is a significant addition in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rebuilding project.
Bruno Fernandes has finally completed his move to Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon
Fernandes could make his United debut in Saturday’s encounter against Wolves at Old Trafford
Fernandes poses with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after signing a five-and-a-half year deal
Fernandes was pictured in United kit for the first time as he completed his £68m move
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, who was at United’s AON Training Complex on Thursday to complete formalities, said: ‘My love of Manchester United really started when I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo play and ever since then I have been a big fan of this great club.
‘For me to now play for Manchester United feels incredible, I have worked hard to get to this moment and I can promise the fans that I will give everything for the badge to help bring us more success and trophies.
‘I want to thank Sporting for everything they have done for me. It is surreal to hear the nice words that have been said about me from players that used to play for this team.
‘A massive thank you to Ole and everyone at Manchester United for the trust they have shown in me and I can’t wait to start to repay that on the pitch.’
Solskjaer revealed his delight as United finally secured a long-term transfer target
Fernandes (obscured from view) and his entourage arrived in Manchester on Wednesday
Fernandes was the captain of Sporting and has scored 15 goals in all competitions
A picture of Fernandes wearing a red United tracksuit top was posted on the Instagram account of his agent Miguel Pinho as a whirlwind 24 hours for the midfielder was completed. He was in Portugal on Wednesday trying to finalise an exit from Sporting.
Fernandes jumped on a flight to Manchester as soon as United and Sporting Lisbon had put the final touches to the transfer that will cost the Premier League club an initial £46.6m plus up to £21.2m in add-ons.
He spent Wednesday night at The Lowry Hotel after landing in England.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: ‘We have been tracking Bruno for many months and everyone here has been tremendously impressed with all his attributes and what he will bring to this team.
‘Most importantly he is a terrific human being with a great personality and his leadership qualities are clear for all to see. Bruno’s goals and assists stats speak for themselves, he will be a fantastic addition to our team and he will help us push on in the second part of the season.
‘The winter break is coming at a perfect time for us to integrate Bruno into the squad and for him to get to know his team-mates.’
Fernandes arrived at Lisbon Airport on Wednesday afternoon to fly by private jet to Manchester to complete his move to United
The Portugal international was filmed boarding a private plane heading for Manchester
Fernandes pictured alongside his agent (right) on the private plane to Manchester
Fernandes looked happy in his Simpsons t-shirt as he flew on a private jet to Manchester
Novara Calcio, 2012-13
23 games, 4 goals
95 games, 11 goals
35 games, 5 goals
137 games, 63 goals
19 caps, two goals
Portuguese Cup – 2019
Portuguese League Cup – 2018, 2019
Nations League – 2019
It’s understood that the add-ons include a £4.2m payment to Sporting if United qualify for the Champions League, another £4.2m based on Fernandes’ appearances for the club and a separate £12.6m if individual targets are met.
The 25-year-old midfielder could be available to make his debut against Wolves at Old Trafford on Saturday before United take a 16-day winter break that includes a warm-weather training camp in Marbella.
The club officially confirmed on Wednesday that terms had been agreed with Sporting, who once sold Cristiano Ronaldo to United for £12.24m, and manager Solskjaer welcomed news that the protracted transfer was close to completion.
‘I’m delighted we’ve agreed,’ said Solskjaer. ‘There have been good negotiations with Sporting and we know, through history, these two clubs have been good with each other.
‘Now we’ve reached that agreement, hopefully we can get the boy’s contract over the line and the medical done and then, hopefully we can announce it that we’ve got the deal through and – it’s very exciting.’
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.’
Fernandes played his final game for Sporting Lisbon on Monday against Maritimo
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
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
United striker Marcus Rashford replied to the club’s announcement statement on Twitter by saying: ‘Welcome Bruno.’
The player’s agent Miguel Ruben Pinho posted a photo of them on the plane before they flew from Lisbon, and Fernandes then shared a picture of himself arriving in Manchester with his partner Ana Pinho and their daughter Matilde.
Sporting also took to social media to wish Fernandes – who cost £7.2m from Sampdoria in 2017 – good luck, tweeting: ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Good luck and thank you, captain.’
Meanwhile, United are set to make another signing before the January transfer window closes on Friday after Southend goalkeeper Nathan Bishop had a medical at Carrington on Wednesday.
Bishop, 20, will sign a three-year deal after United accelerated negotiations over the last 48 hours amid rival interest from Tottenham, West Ham and Crystal Palace.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes was all smiles as he sealed his United transfer
A video emerged of 25-year-old being interviewed by Portuguese television as he got into car
‘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
‘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
‘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
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
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
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
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
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.
How could Fernandes fit into the United side?