How João Felix complicated Bruno Fernandes move to Manchester United
Bruno Fernandes is one of the most in-demand Portuguese players of this summer.
Two giants of the English game in both Manchester United and Liverpool have been interested in signing the Portuguese midfielder, and while the latter look to have left the race for his signature, a move to Manchester United still looks highly likely.
His move to Old Trafford doesn’t depend on the departure of Paul Pogba by any means, meaning that there is just one issue preventing one of the most highly-anticipated moves from occurring - the fee being paid.
And part of that problem comes back to a certain teenager called João Felix.
As everybody knows, the 19-year old Benfica star made the move to Atletico Madrid this summer - for a monstrous 126 million euros.
That in itself has complicated matters for Sporting in their bid to sell Bruno Fernandes - and it’s clear why.
While João Felix came off a tremendous season with Benfica, where he scored 19 goals in 38 matches across all competition, Bruno Fernandes undoubtedly had an even better campaign of his own, scoring 20 goals in the league alone from midfield, 27 across all competitions, as well as assisting a further 13.
How, then, could Sporting justify (to their fans) selling the 24-year old midfielder for a fee in the region of 50 million euros in the same summer João Felix was sold for £110M? It’s simply not possible, and while Fernandes is still likely to make that move to Manchester this window, the business of Sporting’s arch-rivals Benfica is what has really complicated matters.
Before Felix moved to Atletico, the most expensive player to ever leave the Portuguese league was Hulk - who moved to Zenit for 60 million euros from FC Porto. The most expensive sale by Benfica, meanwhile, was Axel Witsel for 40 million euros - again to Zenit. The money paid for Felix has therefore reset the benchmark and completely changed the market in Portugal.
Sporting, therefore, are now demanding far more money for the services of their talisman and captain than at the start of the summer window, with it becoming abundantly clear that top Portuguese talents can leave their domestic league for far more money than was previously believed.
Had Felix not just become the fifth most expensive player in history, Fernandes’ transfer almost certainly would have already been completed by now for somewhere in the region of 40-50 million euros. But because of Felix’s sale, Sporting are almost obliged to hold out for significantly more. United, however, have had reservations about meeting Sporting’s asking price.
It puts the Sporting leadership in a relatively tricky position - do you allow Fernandes to leave by selling him for significantly less than what was paid for Felix, risking the wrath of the Sporting fans, or do you hold out for more, putting the entire sale - which could prove very important for Sporting’s financial situation - at risk?