Manchester United are reportedly ready to swoop on Sporting Clube de Portugal one again as they are interested in 18-year-old defensive duo Nuno Mendes and Eduardo Quaresma. The Sun has reported the claims from Portuguese newspaper A Bola that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will spend £82 million on the pair this summer. It seems to be a lot of money for young players it could be the best time to show faith in the young Portuguese talent.
Both players have contracts at Sporting which end in the summer of 2025 that also include £41 million release clauses. The duo only signed their new contracts last month. If you think about it, players are being sold for a lot more than they once were and £41 million a piece is a relatively small fee to pay for players that are so young and talented, who could feature for the club for more than a decade, if it all worked out. Solskjaer will have scouted the players and could have been happy with that.
The United manager will be seeking to continue his rebuild of the Old Trafford club this summer, putting them in a position whereby they are able to start challenging the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City next season, who are the teams to beat when you want to win domestic trophies. United last won trophies in the 2016/17 season when they lifted the FA Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League. This season, they have the chance of lifting the Europa League again.
Mendes is a left-back/centre back and is represented by Manuel Pinho who helped bring Bruno Fernandes to the Theatre of Dreams back in January. It could well be that Fernandes is behind this possible piece of transfer business as the player will have been around both Mendes and Quaresma during his time at the club. Solskjaer needs to add depth at the club this summer and that includes the left-back position. United were interested in Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell but his £60 million fee is a put off.
Mendes, 18, recently signed a new long-term contract at Sporting which will end in the summer of 2025. This season, mainly playing in the Liga Revelacao, which is the U23 league in Portugal, the 18-year-old made a total of 17 appearances, scoring one goal and three assists. He was also brought into the senior squad, making nine appearances – starting seven times and playing the full 90 minutes five times, playing as a left midfielder seven times. This gives the impression that the player is ready to make the step up to senior level football.
At this moment in time, United have just two players able to play at left-back; Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams. Shaw has grown into the position but out injured at this moment in time, Williams not being fully experienced has problem areas and he’s not an out and out left-back, playing as a right-back a lot of the time during his youth career at United. Having a proper out and out left back to cover for Shaw, or even challenge for his position would be good for Solskjaer and United.
Quaresma is a central defender, a position that will need strengthening this summer. It is imperative that Solskjaer bolsters his defensive line this summer with reports suggesting that the manager could sign another central defender. Many have already been linked to the Old Trafford club but this one seems to have weight about it, considering the player’s age, level of experience and the fact that Fernandes could have given Solskjaer some intel on the player.
As with Mendes, Quaresma signed a new contract only last month, securing his position at the club until the summer of 2025. This season, the 18-year-old has mainly played in the Liga Revelacao, making 23 appearances at that level. Much like Mendes, he was drafted into the senior team, making nine appearances there. Whilst he has not scored or assisted any goals, that does not mean he has not been doing what he was expected to do. Solskjaer will have had the player scouted, if he is interested.
It could well be an exciting summer or United. They have achieved UEFA Champions League football next season and therefore will have the extra revenue that comes with it. This will strengthen Solskjaer’s hand when giving his list of transfer targets to the clubs executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, which has probably been done already, especially in the fact that the summer transfer window will open on Monday 27 July 2020. United will have many option ahead of them and this Portuguese defensive duo seem promising. Perhaps we will see them join Fernandes at United in the future? I guess we will have to wait and see.
Written by John Walker