Widespread reports in the English press this week claiming that Manchester United target Bruno Fernandes has signed a new contract with Sporting Lisbon that raises his release clause from €80 million (around £68 million) to €100 million (around £85 million) are wide of the mark.
Whilst it is true that the player has signed a new deal, announced on the club’s official website, the release clause has not changed – as it was already €100 million, and neither has the length of contract, which remains until June 2023, reports O Jogo.
The Portuguese media widely claim that due to the club’s mounting debt problems, Sporting will have to sell players to balance the books in the coming months and are likely to accept offers in the region of €70 million for the player – €30 million below the buyout price. A Bola reports that the new contract is unlikely to affect whether Fernandes leaves in January and that his departure is “practically guaranteed” at the end of the season.
Fernandes himself revealed in an interview with GQ magazine that personal terms had, to all intents and purposes, been agreed with the London side. That gentleman’s agreement and Mourinho’s arrival places Spurs as strong favourites to sign the Porto-born star.
According to O Jogo, the new contract increases Fernandes’s salary to €2 million a season – the equivalent of around £32,000 per week.
Speaking to the club’s official magazine Jornal Sporting, Fernandes said “For me it is an honour and a recognition of my work … it is and always will be a privilege to be here and to be able to wear the Sporting shirt … [Sporting fans] can expect more and better. I promise the same performance and dedication so we can have more moments of glory like we had last season.”
Playing interchangeably as a No.8 and a No.10, the prolific Fernandes scored 32 goals and recorded 18 assists in 53 games for Sporting last season, earning him a place in UEFA’s top 50 players of the season and a nomination for the UEFA All-Star XI. He is set to record similar figures this season, having already scored nine goals and notched six assists in Sporting’s first 17 games.
If Manchester United do return to the transfer market for Fernandes in January, they are likely to meet stiff competition from new Tottenham manager and fellow Portuguese José Mourinho, who is known to be a keen admirer of the player. Spurs came the closest to signing the player in August, having offered an amount reportedly between €60 and €65 million, but the deal reached an impasse with Sporting holding out for somewhere between €75 and €80 million.