Manchester United have been joined by Liverpool, AC Milan and Arsenal in the chase to sign Sporting Clube de Portugal’s 18-year-old left-back Nuno Mendes this summer. United were linked to the player earlier in the summer alongside teammate Eduardo Quaresma, 18 in what could have been an £82 million swoop in Bruno Fernandes’ former club with each player subject to a £41 million release clause – which would be a good investment if the players do develop as they are expected in the next few years or so.
Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, as reported by The Mirror, has reported that Arsenal are not interested in the left-back alongside ‘stern interest’ from Italian side AC Milan, who have reportedly made a €15 million (£13.5 million) offer for the teenager, along with a percentage of any sell on fee for the player. Sporting, being Sporting, want a much bigger fee for the player. It was suggested earlier in the summer that Mendes has a £41 million release clause.
This release clause would need to be matched in order to sign the player this summer. United are said to be interested in signing Sergio Reguilon from Real Madrid this summer, to add competition for places in the left-back position with Luke Shaw needing a challenge to bring out the best of his abilities. Brandon Williams has done well this season, but he will need to develop a but more to take on Shaw in the left-back role but has had a good start at the club, playing lots of first team football.
During the 2019/20 season, Mendes made a total of 26 appearances, making 17 in the Liga Revelacano, scoring one goal and three assists. The remaining nine appearances were made in the Liga NOS, the first team league at the club – scoring no goals or assists. Obviously, with United seeking a more experienced player in the left-back position this summer, Reguilon, should they be successful, Mendes might be a player more aligned to the future, which is a similar thought for Williams, who is already at the club.
It is good to see United linked to some up and coming players as in the past seven summer transfer windows, United have been linked with players who seem to be experienced with no real thought as to how they will fit in at the club and what will happen in the future. During Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at the Theatre of Dreams, he eventually set forward a plan to bring players through the academy, also signing young players from all over the world to continue that success. Sometimes it worked, others it did not.
It is good to see that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have a plan on where he wants to take United in the future and the club seems to be on board with that, to a stage. Solskjaer will need to be backed as United lack a lot of quality in areas of the pitch, which is a problem when rotation is needed or if the club needs to cover for injuries, Shaw for example. Williams has learned a lot but is not the finished article, so needs time. United could do with experience, class, hunger and thirst for trophies and that will come at a cost.
Written by John Walker