Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Staggering Man Utd swap with Barcelona green lit as Jorge Mendes convinces Ratcliffe to sacrifice 79-goal star

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is ready to offload Man Utd skipper Bruno Fernandes to Barcelona in a swap deal, per reports

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is ready to offload Man Utd skipper Bruno Fernandes to Barcelona in a swap deal, per reports

Super-agent Jorge Mendes has reportedly wasted no time in organising a move to Barcelona for Bruno Fernandes following the midfielder’s admission that he is ready to consider his Manchester United future this summer – and with claims of a swap deal now exploding into life.

Fernandes has been brilliant for United – and one of their all-too-rare major transfer successes – since an initial £47m (€55m) move to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020. Having hit the ground running following the move, Fernandes has done all he can to ensure the team have success, proving a rare bright spark in a difficult season for the Red Devils.

Made captain last summer by Erik ten Hag, the Portuguese has managed to contribute 15 goals and add nine assists this season, shining bright while many others around him have floundered.

That takes his tally with Manchester United to a hugely-impressive 79 goals and 58 assists (137 in goal contributions in total) from just 230 games  – ridiculous numbers really for a midfielder.

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With a goal contribution, on average, every 1.67 times he takes the field for United, his importance to the cause cannot be overstated and, while he has had his critics as a captain – not least from Roy Keane – his numbers show a player who clearly has given his all.

As a result, comments from the player that he ready to consider his United future over the summer will likely be a cause for major alarm at United.

And while a report this week has claimed United will consider offers for all bar three – Kobbie Mainoo, Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho – of their first-team squad, surely Fernandes is one such name they would be loathe to lose.

What has Bruno Fernandes said?

Having previously committed to the Ratcliffe regime at Manchester United, the club will surely have been dismayed by what Ratcliffe had to say in his latest interview with DAZN Portugal, in which he admitted he will consider his future at Old Trafford after the 2024 European Championships.

“Obviously, it doesn’t just depend on me, does it?” Fernandes said. “A player always has to want to be here, but at the same time, you have to want him to stay. At the moment, I feel there’s that on both sides.

“I’m not thinking too much about the future, not least because, obviously, this season hasn’t been at the level I’d hoped for, either individually or collectively, so far.

“So, if you want me to be very honest, if I have to think about not continuing in the Premier League, it won’t be until after the Euros because nothing will be able to take my focus away from the FA Cup final and the Euros, as there’s nothing more important than that at the moment.”

As a result of that, a number of sides are reported to have taken an interest in potentially acquiring Fernandes’ services – not least long-term admirers Barcelona, who looked at a possible deal for the player while he was still a Sporting Lisbon player and whose interest has never faded since.

Indeed, their sporting director Deco is reportedly a huge admirer of his countryman.

Man Utd, Barcelona swap deal talks underway – report

Now, according to Spanish outlet Nacional, super-agent Mendes is reported to have initiated contact with Ratcliffe over a move to take the player to the Nou Camp.

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that Fernandes’ agent is actually Miguel Pinho, who has a number of top Portuguese clients on his books, meaning that Mendes will have acted outside of the United’s stars remit.

But Mendes has earned a reputation as something of a transfer go-between for two separate clubs in recent years, often helping to facilitate such moves and while representing the interests of clubs, rather than actual clients.

Now a move to take Fernandes from Manchester United to Catalonia could be his next mission.

Barcelona are of course not exactly flush with cash themselves, meaning the would struggle to match United’s apparent €60m (£51.3m) valuation of the 29-year-old.

However, it’s claimed that Mendes, having ‘persuaded’ Ratcliffe to sacrifice the United captain, can help both clubs out with Barcelona willing to put up Frenkie de Jong in a straight swap deal for the Portuguese.

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The Netherlands midfielder is a long-term target for United having been a major fixation of theirs during the summer 2022 transfer window. That ultimately ended in failure but their admiration for the player has never faded and, with the club looking for an upgrade for both Casemiro and loanee Sofyan Amrabat this summer, the chance to now take De Jong is reportedly a notion that interests them.

Claims of a swap deal can certainly not be ruled out, though it is doubtful it is quite as far along already as initially reported. It also remains to be seen if the Red Devils would consider the swapping of their talismanic captain as a fair trade for the Dutchman, despite their long-term interest in the former Ajax man.