Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd blow as dream Bruno Fernandes signing is told to ‘reject’ €120m move amid big ‘risk’ claims

Man Utd skipper Bruno Fernandes is a big fan of Benfica midfielder Joao Neves and would love him to move to Old Trafford

Man Utd skipper Bruno Fernandes is a big fan of Benfica midfielder Joao Neves

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has suffered something of a transfer blow after his top summer target at Manchester United in Joao Neves was advised by a former Red Devils star to ignore their advances and stay where he is for the time being at least.

The British billionaire is keen to restore Manchester United back among the elite of English and European football after completing a £1.3bn investment into 27.7% of the club in February, which not just reduces the Glazers’ shareholdings, but also their overall influence on the club. Indeed, as part of his minority stakeholding, Ratcliffe has been granted full sporting control at Old Trafford.

While Ratcliffe has been quick to assemble the very best footballing minds behind the scenes to help return the famous old club to greatness, it will be the opening of the summer transfer window which will most whet supporters’ appetites and show just how serious the INEOS chief is.

GO DEEPERThe entire Man Utd XI Ratcliffe can brutally axe to cut £85m from wage bill

Of course, money cannot be spent without limits and, working alongside incoming new sporting director Dan Ashworth, United will look to careful manage their incomings and outgoings within the Premier League’s tighter than ever FFP limitations.

Even so, Ratcliffe and Ashworth are keen to strengthen the United spine with a new centre-half, midfielder and striker arriving this summer with a number of their high earners – including perhaps, most surprisingly, Marcus Rashford, among those reportedly set to make way.

And another high earner in Casemiro also expected to move on, it’s claimed that Ratcliffe has set his heart on bringing Neves to Old Trafford as his replacement.

Man Utd old boy tells Joao Neves to snub Red Devils transfer

The Benfica teenager has established himself as one of the leading young midfielders in not just Portuguese football but in the world game with some dominant displays in the centre of the park that defy his tender years.

And with United seeking a new partner for their own teenage sensation in Kobbie Mainoo, it was reported on Tuesday that United had held talks with super-agent Jorge Mendes about the possibility of bringing Benfica star Neves to Old Trafford this summer as his midfield partner.

Any move for Neves would certainly win the approval of United skipper Bruno Fernandes too, who has talked up his Portugal compatriot’s qualities in the media and outlined why he is a major star in the making.

“I don’t know if the United rumours are true, but I know he is ready for that big jump,” Fernandes said last month.

“He is an excellent player, he’s with the national team. That’s also why the big clubs are after him.”

However, speaking to O Jogo, former Red Devils midfielder Nemanja Matic has advised Neves to resist the temptation to move to Old Trafford this summer, feeling the move would be something of a big risk right now and reminding him he is already at a big club in Benfica.

“I think it’s too early for him to take that step of leaving,” Matic said.

“If it were him, I would stay at Benfica for a few more years to play in the Champions League and to mature more.”

Star’s time will come

At just 19 years of age, Neves has years ahead of him in the game and Matic feels a move now would be something of a risk and could potentially see his phenomenal potential stunted.

“I’m sure his time will come and, therefore, he doesn’t need to rush,” Matic said of Neves one day making a major transfer either to United or elsewhere.

“Joao is already at a big club at this point. I’m sure his future at Benfica will be very good.

“I think it’s too early to leave, but of course, in the end, it’s always his decision.”

Neves has appeared in 49 matches across all competitions this season, scoring three goals.

DON’T MISSMan Utd find goal-per-game Martial replacement who’ll put massive pressure on Hojlund