Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has suggested the club were never in for Bruno Fernandes and admits he wants to prevent the club being used to further players’ contracts.
The Sporting Lisbon star was strongly linked with a £60m switch to United over the summer after an outstanding breakout season with his club, where he scored 31 goals.
However, much of the noise about United’s interest came from within the Portuguese media, with Sporting’s president eventually being forced to admit that United never even made a concrete approach for his services.
“It was ‘impossible’ to retain Bruno Fernandes, but we did it,” Frederico Varandas revealed.
“We prepared for his sale by putting a fair price on his worth, and we had bids, but only a serious offer from Tottenham, that was €45m (£40.32m) plus 20m (£17.92m) in add-ons; winning the Premier League and the Champions League. But we found these add-ons difficult, I decided not to accept.”
Now Woodward, who explained on Sunday why United had altered their transfer strategy, is adamant he does not want to see United “wasting time” in the transfer market, saying the club probably never talk to more than nine potential targets per window.
“It hit a peak five seasons ago with 250 players,” Woodward told United We Stand.
“It was 177 two seasons ago. It’s around 200 every year.
“We’re usually after three players, so we might be talking to nine in reality.
“What you are referring to in the original question does happen, but it’s less likely to happen give our closed-door approach to recruitment targets.
“But it does exist and we have to be wary of that [players using the club].
“Sometimes, the amount of time a player or his agent invests into discussions, meetings and contracts shows that there is an interest.
“If it was only a flippant interest then they could go and put a fake story then go to a club president and go say ‘Look at who is in for me.’ That happens all the time as well.
“What sometimes also happens is that we do have a player in an agreed position, but his club refuse to sell and, because the club refuse to sell, the player then uses that to get a new contract.
“From our perspective, we have to try and see through it and make sure that the club is not being used.
“We don’t waste time, we’re more robust.”