When a midfielder bags 32 goals in 53 appearances across all competitions, the big clubs are bound to come knocking.
Bruno Fernandes followed up an excellent 2017/18 campaign with a phenomenal one last season at Sporting CP. Playing largely in central midfield but often in a more advanced role as well, his creative influence and goal-scoring ability shone through in the Portuguese top flight.
Aged just 24, Fernandes has naturally been recognised as an exceptional talent and the fact that his exploits have come outside of the top-five European leagues hasn’t seemed to deter interested clubs.
He’s previously stated his desire to play in the Premier League and Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham have all been linked. Inter Milan on the other hand would present a return to Serie A while Atletico Madrid are reportedly keen on the Portugal international.
According to Portuguese tabloid Correio de Manha, Liverpool are the first among Fernandes’ many suitors to table a formal bid of €45m. The understanding is that bid comes nowhere near Sporting’s valuation and will most likely be tossed out.
From Liverpool’s perspective though, it’s the right starting point. They’ve officially thrown their hat in the ring and clearly appreciate what the player could offer them in terms of a change in dynamic and greater depth. However, they’re also aware that there aren’t any substantial voids within their squad so they aren’t under pressure to land the Portuguese.
Fernandes has already spoken of his admiration of Liverpool’s style, one he prefers over that of another interested party in City.
“I like Liverpool a lot more, it’s a more direct, more offensive, maybe less organised, but more intense football, when you do not have the ball possession you are more intense,” he wrote on his blog De Caseirinha, as quoted by Portuguese publication Record.
Fernandes has the attacking instincts and intensity to flourish under Jurgen Klopp and could be a potent goal threat from midfield or even fill in for one of the front three.
SUITABILITY = 7/10
PROBABILITY = 7/10
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often shifted between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation since his appointment last December. Regardless of his preference going into the new campaign, the versatile Fernandes should slot in seamlessly.
United have been among the front-runners for his signature but despite possessing significant funds to meet Sporting’s asking price and a strong desperation to improve their roster, they are yet to make an offer.
The assumption is that the Red Devils have several irons in the fire and their decision to snap up the 24-year-old will depend on how other pursuits materialise. However, if that’s the case, they may be going about it the wrong way.
Securing the services of Fernandes would ease the pressure on them for the rest of the summer owing to his ability to feature in a number of positions. The Sporting playmaker has the pedigree to control play in central midfield or be more threatening in behind the striker while also capable of being effective on the right flank where United are woefully short of quality.
He’s the type of player who can improve those around him with his intelligent play and with Paul Pogba angling for a move away from Old Trafford, a creative force like Fernandes – averaging 3.2 key passes per game – is essential.
SUITABILITY = 8/10
PROBABILITY = 7/10
With Antonio Conte taking over from Luciano Spalletti, Inter Milan have set their sights on challenging Juventus’ monopoly over Serie A and a few signings to promote the new manager’s vision seem inevitable.
As such, the Nerazzurri have been strongly linked with Fernandes who has welcomed the reports along with the prospect of returning to Italy’s top flight.
Speaking to Sport Mediaset, the former Sampdoria player said: “I was very happy in Italy and still watch Serie A games regularly.
“I do not have the slightest idea if it’s true that Inter are interested in me. They have a great Coach now in Antonio Conte who did so well at Juventus and with Italy. Of course, seeing my name associated with Inter is important.”
For a player blessed with several attacking attributes, Fernandes’s defensive contributions are impressive as well, making him all the more appealing to Conte.
SUITABILITY = 6/10
PROBABILITY = 5/10
Diego Simeone is understood to be an admirer of Fernandes and the Portuguese certainly fits the mould at Atletico Madrid. Diego Costa’s woeful form last season couple with Antoine Griezmann’s impending departure to Barcelona means the La Liga outfit are in need of quality in the final third.
However, Marca reported on Monday that Los Rojiblancos are on the brink of signing another sought-after Portuguese talent in Joao Felix. The 19-year-old would be a straight replacement for Griezmann and if that move comes to fruition, Atletico won’t have much appetite to invest substantial funds in Fernandes as well.
The Spanish club have already lost Juanfran, Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez already at the back while Felipe Luis’ future is also uncertain along with that of midfielders Rodri and Thomas Partey.
SUITABILITY = 7/10
PROBABILITY = 4/10
Tottenham haven’t made a signing since Lucas Moura on January 31 last year. The fact that they’ve still managed to finish third in the Premier League and as runners-up in the Champions League is remarkable.
With Christian Eriksen looking for a move away from the club this summer, Fernandes would seem like a decent recruit on paper. He has the quality on dead balls to replace the Dane as Spurs’ premier set-piece specialist while also looking to replicate his contribution to goals.
However, recent reports from the Daily Mail and Sky Sports suggest Spurs aren’t targeting Fernandes and you can understand why.
Mauricio Pochettino has options in terms of attacking midfielders and is focused on signing Giovani Lo Celso instead, someone who fills a more withdrawn role. The Argentine is also expected to come for a much lower fee.
SUITABILITY = 5/10
PROBABILITY = 2/10
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
Arsenal -> £50 million -> Atletico Madrid
Atleti want the right-back and are prepared to offer Spain winger Vitolo as part of a deal, according to The Telegraph.
Why it will happen: Bellerin has never played in his native La Liga and may desire a change of scenery. The Barcelona youth product’s searing pace will interest head coach Diego Simeone, especially with veteran Juanfran potentially departing. A sizeable bid may also entice Arsenal, who require funds to finance a squad rebuild. Their boss, Unai Emery, also worked with Vitolo at Sevilla.
Why it won’t happen: Bellerin is still to regain full fitness after a horrific knee injury, meaning a medical might be impossible. The 24-year-old also has four years left to run on his Gunners deal and appears content in north London. Juventus pushed for him last summer and were rebuffed.
Transfer rating: 4/10
Istanbul Basaksehir -> Free -> West Ham United
Former Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor is attracting widespread interest from the Premier League, according to The Sun.
Why it will happen: The 35-year-old’s enduring prowess in front of goal was exhibited in Turkey, where 23 goals were registered across 53 Super Lig appearances since January 2017. His status as a free agent will also especially appeal to the Hammers, who covet a cut-price replacement for Andy Carroll. Adebayor played for Arsenal and Crystal Palace previously, meaning a new London club will appeal.
Why it won’t happen: Adebayor’s age told in his second full season in Turkey, netting only three times in 19 matches across all competitions and not completing 90 minutes in 2019. He was also abject at Palace in 2015/16, scoring once in 15, forgettable games. These travails, also, have not put off a plethora of clubs. Watford, promoted Sheffield United and Scottish Premiership holders Celtic want him.
Transfer rating: 5/10
Dalian Yifang -> Part-exchange -> Roma
Roma are planning a surprise move to bring former Napoli captain Marek Hamsik, now at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, back to Serie A in exchange for Javier Pastore, according to La Repubblica.
Why it will happen: Hamsik has cut a frustrated figure in China since he joined in January. Only one goal has followed in 11 top-flight appearances, some comedown since his record-shattering 12-year stint at Napoli. Dalian may view this bid as an opportunity to add a greater attacking edge to their foreign contingent.
Why it won’t happen: A lucrative three-year contract was only signed by Hamsik six months ago. These wages would impinge any bid by Roma. There is also his enduring loyalty to Napoli to factor in. Plus, Pastore would have to agree to move in the opposite direction and this is anything but guaranteed.
Transfer rating: 2/10
Italian powerhouses Juventus are on the hunt for star Dutch defender and Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt and are reportedly prepared to pay more than 70 million euros, according to De Telegraaf newspaper Saturday.
The teenage centre-back has previously been linked to a possible transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, but Juventus “are seducing the Ajax defender with a contract almost impossible to refuse, and star player Cristiano Ronaldo’s charms”, the paper reported.
It comes after television cameras picked up a short, but genial conversation between Ronaldo and De Ligt after the Netherlands lost 1-0 against Portugal in the Nations League final earlier this month.
Asked by the Dutch public broadcaster NOS at the time whether Ronaldo wanted to know if De Ligt, 19, would join him at the Turin-based Juventus, De Ligt said: “That could well be, yes.”
“I didn’t understand him at first. I was a little shocked, so I laughed. But I didn’t say anything,” De Ligt pointed out.
Should De Ligt decide to move to the Italian club he could rake in between €15 to 20 million euros annually, the NOS added, saying the contract would last five years.
It would not be the first time a well-known Ajax player made the move to the Italian club, with former Dutch international goalkeeper and current Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar playing 66 games for Juventus between 1999 and 2001, among others.
De Ligt’s manager and sometimes controversial football agent, the Dutch-Italian Mino Raiola, is also said to keep “warm ties” with Juventus, De Telegraaf said.
But the paper said a transfer to PSG wasn’t completely out of the picture: “It should never be written off.”