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Manchester United joined in pursuit of young Portuguese fullback this summer

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

Manchester United eye Sporting defensive duo in £82 million deal

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

Manchester United eye £10 million transfer for young Portuguese left-back on Nani’s recommendation – reports

Manchester United are apparently preparing to launch a transfer bid for £10 million rated Sporting Clube de Portugal’s 17-year-old left-back, Nuno Mendes, according to reports. The teenager has a year left ons his contract at the Portuguese club and seems to come with a glowing recommendation from a former Portuguese winger – not that one.

Former United winger, Nani, who now plays for MLS side Orlando City has given the Old Trafford club some advice about the fullback. It is stated that the 17-year-old opted not to sign a new contract at the Portuguese club, which could have lasted a further two years and now big clubs are expected to make moves for the player this summer.

Mendes has not yet played at first team level for his club, but has trained with Bruno Fernandes’ former teammates. Nani has clearly heard good things about the player, who is currently coming through the same academy he and Cristiano Ronaldo did. Nani spent eight years at United, heading back to Sporting before moving to Florida.

It is stated that Mendes, 17, is known for his lightning-quick speed, his dribbling ability, and his ability to contribute to attacking play – which is everything that United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking from a left-back. Granted, the club lies in good hands in that position now with Luke Shaw’s rise in form and the appearance of Brandon Williams.

United will need to think about the future, and Solskjaer will have this in his thoughts. A club like United, who will be seeking to bring through youth, whether from the home nations or beyond, is always going to keep an eye out for great talent in and around Europe. Mendes could be a player that the Norwegian manager could be seeking in the future.

It was reported that United held talks with Sporting back in January when they were concluding the deal for Fernandes, but were unable to complete a deal at the time. It is said that the relationship between United and Sporting is a good one, especially as both club have done a lot of business over the years; Ronaldo, Nani and Fernandes came from there.

United will face competition from clubs in Spain, who are seemingly ready to make a move for the player, but should United get involved, they might have some confidence that a deal could be done. Granted, the player may not be guaranteed first team football but if he does make the rise, Shaw could be at risk if his form drops, as could Williams.

However, Williams is able to play on both sides at fullback and at times this season, had played a wing-back role, so he has something else to offer the club in terms of footballing ability. It would seem likely that Mendes, if he ended up signing for United, could be a player for the future, seemingly making his impact at first team level in two or three years.

It is good that Nani seems to think well of United, recommending players he has heard good things about, which shows you the type of player he was. He never really fit in at United, seemingly losing form more often than not but he did do some impressive things for the club and won some major honours – something that he will never forget.

copyright: JW