Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Bruno Fernandes namedrops €220m Sporting CP trio he loves in future hint at Man Utd transfers

Morten Hjulmand, Goncalo Inacio and Viktor Gyokeres are top Sporting Lisbon stars and have all been linked with Man Utd

Morten Hjulmand, Goncalo Inacio and Viktor Gyokeres are top Sporting Lisbon stars and have all been linked with Man Utd

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes admits his former club Sporting Lisbon are absolutely stacked with top talent having named a clutch of stars he hugely admires and in a potential future transfer nod to Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

The Red Devils are now under the control of the British billionaire, who has invested a whopping £1.3bn to purchase a 27.7% stake in the club he supported as a boy. In doing so, Ratcliffe has also assumed full sporting control at Manchester United and the club’s fortunes from here on in will be left in the hands of the 71-year-old INEOS owner.

Indeed, Ratcliffe appears in something of a hurry to get his house in order at Old Trafford. Behind the scenes, a deal to bring in Omar Berradas as CEO from Manchester City has been done, while his close confidant, Jean-Claude Blanc is to take up a role as director, having previously worked with both PSG and Juventus.

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However, the biggest appointment of all is to come in the newly-created role of sporting director, with a deal to bring in Dan Ashworth – widely regarded as one of the best around – close to being finalised with Newcastle. United are to pay an eye-watering fee to bring in the 52-year-old. That said, with Ratcliffe said to be critical behind the scenes of some of the millions United have wasted in the transfer market, a move to appoint Ashworth will hopefully pay for itself in the long haul.

Between both Ratcliffe and Ashworth, the two men will look to re-shape and rebrand United’s playing squad and want to transform the club to being major contenders for the game’s top prizes.

Bruno Fernandes a model of consistency for Man Utd

How they go about though will be extremnely intriguing, especially given the club will likely have to let at least two big-name stars depart this summer too to help them operate within the boundaries of FFP.

One man who could yet have his say though on United’s transfer business is skipper Bruno Fernandes.

The Portuguese star has proved one of the unfortunately too rare quality big-money additions at Old Trafford over recent years, proving a hugely-consistent figure for the Red Devils.

Indeed, his Premier League record for the United currently stands at 48 goals and 39 assists from 151 appearances – a goal contribution every 1.73 games.

The Portuguese market has proven a rich hunting ground for both United and Premier League sides in general over recent seasons. And with Sporting riding high at the top of the Primeira Liga once again, the capital club has seen a number of their top stars linked with high-profile transfers once again.

Indeed, of their stars it is defender Goncalo Inacio, linked with Liverpool and United, midfielder Morten Hujlmand, tipped as a contender to replace Casemiro in United’s midfield, and striker Viktor Gyokeres, this week strongly linked with Arsenal, who find themselves most in demand.

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Fernandes has Man Utd eyes on classy Sporting trio

Now Fernandes, speaking to Portuguese paper A Bola while on international duty, admits his former club are absolutely stacked with talent in a potential hint at where Ratcliffe and Ashworth should be turning their focus.

“Gyokeres is one of them, he’s scored a lot of goals, but I think Pedro Gonçalves has shown great dynamics over the years,” Fernandes said. “This season is probably the one in which he’s played best, but as his numbers have dropped since the first season, people…

“What’s normal, he’s created a very high standard of goals and assists, so the pressure on him is very high. However, I think that Pote has been more influential in the team’s play now than he was when Sporting were champions and he scored a lot of goals.

“This confidence that the coach has in Trincao means that he’s back to being the player he was when he left Braga for Barcelona.”

Fernandes also admires the qualities of several other Sporting stars, with Inacio and Hjulmand both touted as two players United are keeping a close watch on ahead of the summer window.

“Obviously, Gyokeres scoring so many goals means that he sometimes falls by the wayside,” he added. “Inacio has grown enormously and part of that is down to being in the national team and playing.

“Coates is always the pendulum in that defence because of his experience and his ability to be calm in difficult moments.

“The two in midfield… I love Sporting’s midfield. I love Morita and Hjulmand. They’re two vital players in Sporting’s game, especially when they have to have more of the ball and be more tactically organised.”

Despite Fernandes’ admiration, it’s unlikely United could afford all three. Gyokeres has a €100m exit clause in his deal, while both Inacio and Hjulmand are rated in the €60m bracket, respectively.

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