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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 to pay £9 million more for Bruno Fernandes if they qualify for Champions League

Manchester United might have to pay Sporting Club de Portugal more money this summer after singing Bruno Fernandes, 25, during the January transfer window. The Sun has reported that the £47 million initial signing might raise to £56 million this summer with an extra £9 million being paid to the Portuguese club providing United do actually qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season, which was one of the clauses in the player’s contract when a deal was done at the start of the year. United will have budgeted for this.

The media, however, seem to sensationalise this as more money taken out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s budget for the summer, which could be make or break for United. One of the clauses in the contract for the sale was that after 20 appearances for United, £4.5 million would be payable to the Portuguese club. Then if United finished in the top four positions of the Premier League, therefore earning UEFA Champions League football, a further £4.5 million would be payable – a total of £9 million. Executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward will have budgeted for this.

Fernandes has made 18 appearances for United already with two more Premier League matches left to play; West Ham United on Wednesday and Leicester City on Sunday, which will end the domestic season for the club. To add to those appearances will be the UEFA Europa League which will resume inside the next fortnight with United facing LASK at Old Trafford, despite being 5-0 up from the first leg of the round of 16 stage. That will ensure that United will have to pay at least £4.5 million in add-ons this summer as part of the Fernandes deal.

Allegedly, according to The Sun report, which comes from Portuguese newspaper A Bola, Sporting were not happy with the clauses as at the time United signed Fernandes, it was unlikely that they could achieve Champions League football so that additional £4.5 million wold not be something they could receive any time soon. However, with the club 19-match unbeaten run, they seem to have changed that making it realistic, especially if Solskjaer’s side beat West Ham which will put pressure on both Leicester, who lost to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and Chelsea, who will face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday evening.

Fernandes has been a revelation for United this season, tasting defeat once, on Sunday at the hands of Chelsea, and scoring nine goals and eight assists in his 18 appearances, which shows the type of player that he is – a winner. United will need to ensure they keep him fit as when he does not play, United look less of a team. I guess this shows how important the upcoming transfer window is this summer with Solskjaer seeking to strengthen his team significantly to help them achieve something next season. United should be ready to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title.

The rest of the season could be a big step up for Fernandes and his teammates. Achieving Champions League football was the main thing to aim for at the start of the season and that looked like a tough task at the time. However, with an upturn in form, things have developed and it is no coincidence that this happened after Fernandes’ arrival in January. The future looks good for United. If Solskjaer can ensure his team win their next two matches, they will achieve the bare minimum this season – Champions League football. If they can challenge in the Europa League too, possibly ending with a trophy, it will be the start of something.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW