Sevilla have signed Marcos Acuna from Sporting CP to all but end their interest in fellow left-back Sergio Reguilon.

Reguilon starred on loan with Sevilla last season and the Europa League winners had hoped to re-sign him from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 campaign.

However, sporting director Monchi conceded last week his side would likely miss out on the 23-year-old, who is also a reported target for Manchester United.

And on Monday the LaLiga outfit confirmed the arrival of Argentina international Acuna on a four-year deal for a reported upfront fee of €10million.

Acuna spent three seasons with Sporting, making 134 appearances for the Portuguese giants in all competitions.

He becomes Sevilla's fifth signing of the window following deals for Ivan Rakitic, Oscar Rodriguez, Yassine Bounou and Suso, the latter two making their loan moves permanent.

Julen Lopetegui's side finished fourth last season to qualify for the Champions League and begin their 2020-21 campaign with a UEFA Super Cup clash against Bayern Munich on September 24.

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly ready to let Jadon Sancho leave this close season, while Barcelona are eager to re-sign Ansu Fati.

Sancho, 20, has continually been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga club amid reported interest from several European giants.

And Dortmund may be prepared to let the attacker go.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WILLING TO SELL SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund are prepared to sell Sancho to Manchester United for the right price, according to The Independent.

However, the report says United's qualification for the Champions League remains a huge factor.

Ahead of a trip to Leicester City on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are third in the table, a point clear of their fifth-placed hosts.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are eager to re-sign Fati, according to the cover of Sport. The report says the LaLiga giants are keen to extend the teenager's deal amid interest from United, lifting the forward's release clause to €300million.

- Sport also reports that Inter are pressing to re-sign Lautaro Martinez, who has been linked to Barcelona. Martinez is coming out of contract in 2023.

- Manchester City are said to be getting close to agreeing a deal for Valencia star Ferran Torres. Cadena SER claims City want to include Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada, in the deal to lower the cost.

- After struggling in his first season at Real Madrid, Luka Jovic has been linked with a move. The Shields Gazette reports Newcastle United are planning a £60m (€65.9m) loan move for the forward.

- Linked with more moves after signing Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Chelsea could strengthen their defence. The Telegraph says the Premier League club have scouted Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez.

- Arsenal have received a boost in their apparent pursuit of Joelson Fernandes. TSF reports the 17-year-old is further away from re-signing with Sporting CP and Arsenal will move forward with a £41m (€45m) offer for the forward.

Arsenal may get an opportunity to sign Philippe Coutinho, while Mason Greenwood is set to be rewarded by Manchester United.

Coutinho is expected to leave Barcelona permanently this close season after a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

A stunning swap deal could see the playmaker end up at Emirates Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OFFER ARSENAL COUTINHO FOR GUENDOUZI

Barcelona are in talks to send Coutinho to Arsenal in exchange for Matteo Guendouzi, according to Foot Mercato.

Coutinho has struggled to have an impact at Barca, while Guendouzi seems set for an Arsenal exit.

Former Liverpool star Coutinho has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League.

ROUND-UP

- Greenwood is set to be rewarded for his breakthrough season at Old Trafford. The Mirror reports the forward, who has scored 16 goals this campaign, is set to be offered a new deal to double his wages at Manchester United.

- Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico has been linked with a move away. Goal reports Atletico Madrid have joined the race for the Argentina international, who is also said to be a target for Chelsea.

- Manchester City could be set to sign a Brazilian teenager. According to the Daily Mail, City are in talks with Gremio over a £4.5million (€5m) deal for midfielder Diego Rosa.

- Compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, Joelson Fernandes is linked with several European heavyweights. A Bola reports Arsenal are leading the race for the Sporting CP forward, with Barcelona and Juventus also said to be interested.

- West Ham are preparing to make changes. The Sun reports they are open to offers for Manuel Lanzini and Fabian Balbuena ahead of next season.

- Amid apparent interest from the Bundesliga, Timothy Fosu-Mensah is set to be given a chance to earn a new contract at Manchester United, according to The Sun.

Football, arguably more so than any other sport, has a compulsive need to compare young talents with those who have come before. There's no getting away from it, and it's likely everyone has made such observations.

It has become so ingrained in debates about the sport and players that perhaps we don't even realise anymore, and many of 'the greats' will have been subject to precisely this phenomenon when setting out to establish themselves.

Lionel Messi is an obvious one – one of many Argentinian players to be dubbed the next Diego Maradona in his youth, it's certainly arguable that the Barcelona great has gone on to surpass his compatriot.

But for every Messi there are hundreds of players who, for whatever reason, cannot live up to their early promise and the expectations dumped on their shoulders.

It seems such a harmless occurrence, to suggest an emerging player is comparable – at least stylistically – to an established superstar in conversation with friends, or even over Twitter.

But what we don't tend to see is the other side, how those comparisons take root and spread, eventually spiralling out of control and impacting on the very player being discussed.

Ryan Gauld can attest to that.

'Mini Messi'

Now 24 and playing for Farense, who've just been promoted to Portugal's Primeira Liga, Gauld is very familiar with such player comparisons and the adverse effect they can have.

Before joining Sporting CP on a long-term contract in 2014, Gauld had broken into the first team at Dundee United where he was first dubbed 'mini Messi' for his stature, dribbling ability and the fact he was left-footed. The comparisons began and ended there, but that was all it needed.

"To be honest, I wish it was never written," he explains to Stats Perform News from his home in the Algarve. "What are the similarities between us? We're small and left-footed, that's about as far as you can go. I would've been more relaxed than I already was if it wasn't a thing."

For Gauld, the 'mini Messi' label became a stick to beat him with more than anything, ramping up the pressure after moving to Sporting – he was always expecting it to be tough to breakthrough in Lisbon, but being compared to an all-time great took its toll.

"I would be lying if I said it didn't crop up in my head a couple of times. Like, as soon as people see me as that, they weren't caring what I could do, what I was good at, they were looking to see why I was like Messi, and then if I couldn't do something he could do, they'd say, 'He's rubbish, he's not a mini Messi, he's not worth that tag', or whatever."

The prominence of the 'mini Messi' tag grew to such an extent that Gauld doesn't even think most people knew his actual name for his first two years in Lisbon.

"If they saw me walking about Lisbon or in a shopping centre, Sporting fans who wanted a photo or something, they'd shout 'mini Messi', they wouldn't shout 'Ryan'," he recalls with an exasperated smile. "It makes you think how many people actually know your name – I was known as 'mini Messi' for about two years."

A career interrupted

In the eyes of some, especially those who actually referred to him as 'mini Messi', Gauld's career hasn't quite panned out as might have been expected – he only managed two league appearances for Sporting's senior side in five years, while loans with Vitoria Setubal, Desportivo Aves and Hibernian yielded little.

While he believes his struggles with certain expectations didn't help, Gauld also harbours grievances with Sporting regarding his development, specifically their decision to terminate his loan with Setubal just when he had started to find his groove.

"It was my first shot in the top division. I found it difficult in the beginning to get a place in the team because they started really well and I didn't start the season with the them, and then, I got an opportunity," he said. "The manager was really happy with how I did and I think I played six or seven games on the bounce, and then we had Sporting in the cup.

"I was cup-tied, so couldn't play, but we beat Sporting with a last-minute penalty to knock them out. The next day I received a call from one of the directors to say they were cancelling my loan agreement because we beat them. I think they took the huff a bit, so that was really frustrating."

Another loan was set up, but after spending a month waiting up in the north of the country for clearance to begin training with his new team, he was told Setubal wouldn't sign release papers – a return to Sporting's B team beckoned. "That was the most frustrating part of my whole time here. I would've thought Sporting could have done more to make sure it went through, but no, nothing happened, no one apologised for anything that happened or gave any explanations. It wasn't a very good time."

A social media hiatus and a brighter outlook

After a disappointing return to Scotland with Hibs in January 2019, Gauld's time with Sporting ended – a spell that promised so much finished with the former Scotland youth international barely making a splash.

But he wasn't done with Portugal yet. While many would have expected him to head back to Scotland permanently, Gauld took the eyebrow-raising decision to drop a division, joining Farense on a two-year deal after the two parties left a strong impression on each other during a short loan spell in 2018.

His new-found happiness hasn't only been influenced by on-field matters, though – turning his back on social media played a major role, particularly with respect to being able to detach himself from his 'mini Messi' demons.

"A year, a year and a bit I've been off social media, it's made such a difference," he explains. "You're not seeing it [criticism], you're not looking for it, looking for the negative energy that comes from it. I think that's played a big role in me not thinking about it [the 'mini Messi' label] too much.

"There was a game on TV, and I played terrible, it'd be in my head, 'Oh no, what are people going to be saying about me now?' I don't care what anyone says, it's difficult if that comes up on your phone, it's difficult to not read it."

In 2019-20, Gauld scored nine league goals in 21 matches for Farense, making him their top-scorer as they secured a return to the top flight for the first time since 2001-02 – in the intervening seasons, they have sunk as far as the sixth tier.

Sporting will be the first match he looks out for when the fixture list is announced - like the returning Farense, Gauld has a score to settle in the Primeira Liga.

Porto captured their 29th Primeira Liga title following the stunning capitulation of Portuguese rivals Benfica.

Boasting former Real Madrid defender Pepe, Porto celebrated a second league trophy in three seasons thanks to Wednesday's 2-0 victory over fierce foes Sporting CP.

Danilo Pereira and Moussa Marega scored in the second half to ensure Porto dethroned defending champions Benfica midweek with two matches remaining as iconic goalkeeper Iker Casillas heads into retirement.

Porto have been almost flawless since the season resumed in June following the coronavirus-enforced break in March, winning six of their eight matches, including five in a row.

Benfica, meanwhile, have only managed three victories since returning to action last month and just four wins from 13 league games since February to slip eight points adrift of Porto.

"The team is to be congratulated for what we did, and not only in this game," Pepe said. "Sporting were in very good form but we knew how to cancel out their strong points. This is down to the hard work and sacrifice our squad put in, we never stopped, not even during the confinement.

"What made us champions? Above all, the togetherness we had. We know we represent a very important region of the country and we all identify with this region. When things get tough we use this strength to overcome adversities. If I'm not mistaken, in the first game of the season against Gil Vicente [a defeat] I said we lose together and we win together, and today is proof of that. Not only us the players, but the entire club and all the fans.

"We didn't have holidays, we were always working, striving for perfection. It's difficult, but we were always striving for it. The spirit we had, the belief in our coach, he always believed. Today, here, we see the result."

Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao added: "We won one of the most important titles in Porto's history. I'd like to dedicate this title to my family, who suffer a lot, my wife and my children and my parents."

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Former Barcelona and France star Jeremy Mathieu has retired after suffering a knee injury in training at Sporting CP - news that has left Bruno Fernandes "crestfallen".

Manchester United midfielder Fernandes paid tribute to his former Sporting team-mate who quit after damaging the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Wednesday, calling Mathieu "a centre-back with the quality of a number 10".

Mathieu, 36, won only five caps for France but shone in spells with Valencia and Barcelona, playing for the Catalan giants from 2014 to 2017 before joining Sporting.

At Barcelona, he won two LaLiga titles plus the Champions League in 2014-15, coming on as a late substitute in the 3-1 final win over Juventus.

Portuguese newspaper Record quoted a statement from Mathieu, in which he said: "I thought I would end my career in another way, but it is part of football. I wanted to finish on the pitch so badly, but destiny decided otherwise.

"Anyway, I spent 19 years living my life with intense passion, with ups and downs, joy and crying, victories and defeats and incredible trophies."

Mathieu played in France with Sochaux and Toulouse before moving to Spain with Valencia.

Fernandes posted on Instagram: "I had news that left me sad and crestfallen.

"I learned that the best centre-back I ever had as a team-mate was injured and decided to end a career full of titles and unforgettable moments."

Fernandes added: "I had two and a half years with you, two and a half years of apprenticeship, two and a half years of eternal bets in training to see who scored the most free-kicks, two and a half years to see magic come from the feet of a centre-back, yes from a centre-back."

He stressed Mathieu "was a centre-back with the quality of a number 10 and extreme speed" and said he intended to reunite with him on the golf course.

Fernandes said: "Thanks for the tears in the final of the Taca de Portugal that showed me what it is like to love the game and how all victories are as important as the first."

Lisbon is supposedly being considered as a potential location for all remaining 2019-20 Champions League matches and Portugal great Nuno Gomes believes the city would be a "good solution".

The coronavirus pandemic brought top-level sport in Europe to a halt, with the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League pushed back indefinitely.

UEFA wants to complete both competitions once domestic leagues have been concluded, meaning the remaining fixtures could potentially resume in August.

Last week, reports began to emerge suggesting Istanbul would be unable to cover the cost of hosting the Champions League final without supporters being allowed to attend, and now UEFA are said to be considering alternative plans.

One apparent idea is for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final to be played at neutral venues in a single city and Lisbon is reportedly considered to be the strongest option, given Portugal's low coronavirus infection rate and the facilities of Benfica and Sporting CP.

Gomes agrees Lisbon would be an effective host, telling Stats Perform News: "For us Portuguese, I believe it is a good thing.

"After a lot of meetings they [UEFA] understood it's maybe better to do it in one place rather than everybody travelling around Europe.

"[Lisbon] is a good option, and I'm not sure if they already decided a final decision, but it's true a lot of views and conversations are being held in order to maybe give Lisbon the final eight of the Champions League.

"I think it's good for football to find a solution in order to finish the games that are missing because everybody is waiting for Champions League games."

Both the Europa League and Champions League were suspended in March during the round-of-16.

Bruno Fernandes' transfer to Manchester United from Sporting CP is under investigation by FIFA after Sampdoria launched a claim against the Portuguese club.

Sampdoria's complaint relates to payments they believe they are entitled to following Fernandes' move for an initial £48million (€55m) to Old Trafford in January.

The Portugal midfielder joined Sporting from Sampdoria for €8.5m in June 2017.

Sampdoria's claim concerns Sporting alone, meaning there is no suggestion United are guilty of any impropriety.

In a statement released to Stats Perform. a FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm that on 3 April 2020 the Italian club, UC Sampdoria, lodged a claim with FIFA against the Portuguese club, Sporting Clube de Portugal, related to financial obligations set out in the contract corresponding to the transfer of the Portuguese player, Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes.

"The matter is currently being investigated and consequently we cannot provide further comments."

A report by The Times claimed Sampdoria believe they are entitled to €4.65m under a sell-on clause under the terms of Fernandes' move to Lisbon.

However, the 25-year-old was one of several Sporting players to rescind his contract before re-signing following an incident in May 2018 when fans invaded the club's training ground and attacked members of the squad.

It is thought Sporting believe they no longer have obligations to Sampdoria under the new contract Fernandes signed, given he technically penned that as a free agent to render any sell-on element null and void.

Fernandes has impressed since joining United, scoring two goals and supplying three assists in five Premier League matches before the 2019-20 season was placed on hiatus amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Europe's major leagues have been shut down due to coronavirus, but Cristiano Ronaldo is still making headlines.

Ronaldo was in the midst of his second season with Juventus before the 2019-20 campaign was postponed last month.

But there are ongoing doubts over Ronaldo's future in Turin.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO LINKED TO MADRID RETURN

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo misses Real Madrid and a reunion with his former club is not just a suggestion, according to Calciomercato.

Ronaldo is reportedly unhappy at Serie A champions Juve amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and another former team, Manchester United.

However, Calciomercato's report claims Ronaldo has eyes on Madrid but it will take a significant sum to prise the 35-year-old from Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona have set their asking price for out-of-favour attacker Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich. The LaLiga champions want at least €80million (£70m) for the Brazilian. The likes of Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have been linked.

- Diario AS says Borussia Dortmund are concerned about mounting speculation surrounding Madrid's interest in Erling Haaland. The Norwegian sensation only joined Dortmund in January.

Madrid are chasing Lille's midfield star Boubakary Soumare, according to Le10Sport. United and Liverpool have also been linked to the 21-year-old.

Juve are looking to complete a deal for Mauro Icardi, says Calciomercato. Icardi is on loan at PSG from Inter but the Argentina international wants to return to Italy.

Manchester City face an uphill battle trying to sign Raphael Varane. Defensa Central says Madrid are ready to turn down any bids for the Frenchman. According to Tuttosport, City have set their sights on three Inter players – Lautaro Martinez, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni. Martinez has been tipped to join Barca.

- Diario AS claims Barca are keeping tabs on Juve midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur. It comes as Marca says Atletico Madrid are leading the race to sign Ivan Rakitic from Barca.

Milan are eyeing three candidates should star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leave the club, reports Calciomercato. Donnarumma has been linked to Chelsea, Madrid and PSG and Napoli's Alex Meret, Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso and Sporting CP's Luis Maximiano are being considered.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP, the Portugal international signing a five-and-a-half-year deal to bring one of the most drawn-out transfer sagas of the January window to an end.

Speculation linking Fernandes with a move to Old Trafford had intensified in recent months, but the prospective deal looked to have fallen through last week due to United reportedly refusing to meet Sporting's asking price for the midfielder.

However, an agreement between the two clubs was duly reached and announced on Wednesday, with Sporting confirming they would receive £46.5million (€55m) up front and up to £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons.

After travelling to Manchester to discuss personal terms and complete a medical, Fernandes is now a United player. 

His deal, which runs until 2025, has the option for a further year.

The 25-year-old becomes United's first signing of the window and provides Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a much-needed boost in midfield, an area where he has found himself short of options following injuries sustained by Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

Solskjaer told United's official website: "We have been tracking Bruno for many months and everyone here has been tremendously impressed with all his attributes and what he will bring to this team.

"Most importantly, he is a terrific human being with a great personality and his leadership qualities are clear for all to see.

"Bruno's goals and assists stats speak for themselves. He will be a fantastic addition to our team, and he will help us push on in the second part of the season.

"The winter break is coming at a perfect time for us to integrate Bruno into the squad and for him to get to know his team-mates."

Fernandes scored 15 goals in 27 games for Sporting this season.

New Manchester United signing Bruno Fernandes said he has been in love with the club since watching Cristiano Ronaldo play for the Red Devils.

United on Thursday completed the signing of Sporting CP midfielder Fernandes for an initial fee of £46.5million (€55m), with up to £21.1m (€25m) to follow in add-ons.

The 25-year-old, a team-mate of Ronaldo in the Portugal set-up, signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at Old Trafford, with the club retaining an option to extend the deal for a further season.

After impressing at Sporting in his debut season in 2002-03, Ronaldo earned a move to United and won three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Club World Cup before joining Real Madrid in 2009 for what was then a world-record fee.

"My love of Manchester United really started when I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo play and ever since then I have been a big fan of this great club," Fernandes said in a club statement.

"For me to now play for Manchester United feels incredible, I have worked hard to get to this moment and I can promise the fans that I will give everything for the badge to help bring us more success and trophies.

"I want to thank Sporting for everything they have done for me. It is surreal to hear the nice words that have been said about me from players that used to play for this team.

"A massive thank you to Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and everyone at Manchester United for the trust they have shown in me and I can't wait to start to repay that on the pitch."

Fernandes took his first steps in professional football with Italian side Novara, before moving onto unspectacular spells with Udinese and Sampdoria.

However, the creative midfielder hit new heights with Sporting, contributing 63 goals and 52 assists in 137 appearances for the club.

Fernandes twice won the Taca da Liga and lifted the Taca de Portugal with Sporting.

He was also a member of the Portugal squad that won the inaugural Nations League last year.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP, the Portugal international signing a five-and-a-half-year deal to bring one of the most drawn-out transfer sagas of the January window to an end.

Speculation linking Fernandes with a move to Old Trafford had intensified in recent months, but the prospective deal looked to have fallen through last week due to United reportedly refusing to meet Sporting's asking price for the midfielder.

However, an agreement between the two clubs was duly reached and announced on Wednesday, with Sporting confirming they would receive £46.5million (€55m) up front and up to £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons.

After travelling to Manchester to discuss personal terms and complete a medical, Fernandes is now a United player. 

His deal, which runs until 2025, has the option for a further year.

The 25-year-old becomes United's first signing of the window and provides Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a much-needed boost in midfield, an area where he has found himself short of options following injuries sustained by Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

Bruno Fernandes looks to have signed his contract with Manchester United after his agent posted a photo to Instagram.

United confirmed on Wednesday they had reached an agreement with Sporting CP to sign Portugal playmaker Fernandes.

The fee for Fernandes will be an initial £46.5million (€55m) and a potential further £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons, including additional sums for a number of appearances, Champions League qualification and individual objectives.

Fernandes is understood to have undergone a medical with United on Thursday, and his representative Miguel Ruben Pinho was the first to share an image of the 25-year-old in his new club's colours.

A photo shared to Pinho's official Instagram account showed the agent and Fernandes, wearing a United training kit, standing next to a contract seemingly ready to be signed – or already signed – by the midfielder.

Fernandes has long been a reported target of United, while Tottenham and Barcelona have also been credited with an interest in the past.

At long last, one of the more wearisome transfer sagas of the past 12 months is nearing conclusion – Manchester United announced they have agreed a fee with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes.

It seemed for a while that Fernandes would join United in pre-season, but, despite their seemingly obvious need for midfield reinforcements, a move never materialised and he remained with Sporting.

Speculation began to stir again last month, and the two clubs are said to have been locked in talks for much of January – though reports of Barcelona apparently hoping to sign Fernandes in order to use him in negotiations with Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno surfaced earlier this week.

Whether or not that story was a ploy by an agent to jolt United into decisive action, who knows? But something seemed to change this week, as the Red Devils finally reached an agreement with Sporting.

Fernandes had a massive impact at the club during his two-and-a-half-year spell, becoming captain and scoring or setting up 67 Primeira Liga goals in 83 appearances.

United certainly don't have a 100 per cent hit-rate when it comes to signings from Portugal – below, we examined whether their previous imports from the Iberian nation have been misses or not.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009) – HIT

The one that needs no introduction – Ronaldo was a revelation for United following his 2003 arrival from Sporting. The lanky teenager dazzled against United when they faced Sporting for the opening of their Jose Alvalade stadium and, as the story goes, those he tormented implored Alex Ferguson to sign him. So, he did. Outrageously skilful and flashy, early Ronaldo was as fun as they come, but after bulking out he developed a deadly streak, netting 31 times in the 2007-08 Premier League season and helping them to Champions League success. He has since gone on to mark himself out as one of the all-time greats with Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

Bebe (2010-2014) – MISS

From Ferguson's best to arguably his worst signing. Despite the Scot never seeing him play, Bebe is said to have arrived following a recommendation from Ferguson's former right-hand man, Carlos Queiroz. United reportedly paid Vitoria Guimaraes £7.5m for the attacker, but he immediately looked short of the required ability. He somehow managed to last four years at the club, including three loan spells. Most of his career since has been spent in Spain, and he's now playing for Rayo Vallecano in La Segunda.

Nani (2007-2015) – HIT

Few players polarised opinion quite like Nani during his time at United. Undoubtedly capable of the spectacular, he also had his fair share of underwhelming performances and could be infuriatingly frustrating. Like Ronaldo, Nani arrived from Sporting and it was initially said he struggled with the pressure due to comparisons with his United and Portugal team-mate. But in 2010-11 he established himself, producing some spell-binding performances to earn himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the United Players' Player of the Year award. Injuries then took their toll before leaving in 2015, going on to have something of a nomadic career ever since, though he has become Portugal's fourth-highest capped international.

Anderson (2007-2015) – MISS

Oh, what might've been. There's little doubt Anderson was immensely talented, but throughout his time with United there were concerns about his fitness and professionalism. He probably wasn't helped by being turned into something resembling a holding midfielder, given he thrived in a more attacking role previously, but he generally failed to live up to expectations. That's not to say he was hopeless – he amassed almost 200 appearances for the club, but given the promise he showed in his youth, he failed to reach his potential. Aged 31, he retired in September following a spell with Adana Demirspor in Turkey's second tier.

Victor Lindelof (2017-present) – HIT

After an unconvincing debut season following a move from Benfica potentially worth £38m, Lindelof has generally settled well at United and become a first-choice centre-back. Comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, the Sweden international is mostly dependable. Nevertheless, he's certainly not the perfect defender – he's not especially quick and does appear to struggle with physical forwards. So far, he can just about be regarded a 'hit', but United will surely be hoping for an improvement from him.

Marcos Rojo (2014-present) – MISS

Rojo always looked a somewhat puzzling addition, and those initial feelings have never really gone away. Technically able and versatile enough to play either centre-back or on the left, Rojo also relishes a physical tussle. But as something of a hot-head, Rojo has a tendency to be rash. Even Sporting fans were baffled when he joined United, who are said to have tried to sell him in almost every pre-season since buying the Argentina international. He now looks set to return to Estudiantes on loan.

Diogo Dalot (2018-present) – JURY'S OUT

Lauded as the best young full-back in the world by Jose Mourinho when he signed Dalot from his former club Porto in 2018, the Portugal Under-21 international is yet to prove that claim. He showed promise last season, with his ability on the ball and crossing earning acclaim, but he failed to hold down a spot at right-back despite United's concerning lack of quality in that position – Dalot's defensive capabilities proving unconvincing. The club then went out and splurged on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot, who has suffered numerous injuries, is undoubtedly talented, but a future as a regular at United might rely on him being converted into a winger.

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.