Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United were handed a blow in midweek when Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes signed a new contract. Or so it seemed.
The pair had been heavily linked with signing the Portuguese midfielder over the summer and were once again being tipped to return for Fernandes in the January window.
According to the player himself, Tottenham had gone as far as agreeing a deal with the 25-year-old, but Sporting refused to sanction it. In place of Fernandes, the Lilywhites signed Giovani Lo Celso on loan, with an option to buy in the summer.
Man Utd, meanwhile, failed to bring in a new central midfielder, only strengthening their squad with Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.
Both teams missed out on a seriously talented midfielder who had just enjoyed the best season of his career to date.
Fernandes becomes a Sporting ‘Centurion’
In 2018/19, Fernandes played 53 times across all competitions for Sporting, missing just one game – such was his importance to the Lisbon club. The Portuguese midfielder scored a remarkable 32 goals in those games, 20 of which came in the Portuguese Liga NOS.
But besides bringing goals, Fernandes also showed how creative he could be recording 16 assists across all competitions. In total, Fernandes was directly involved in 42.5% of Sporting’s 113 goals during 2018/19 as they won the Allianz Cup and Taca de Portugal.
Bruno Fernandes in the Primeira Liga since the 2017/18 season:
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 29, 2019
It wasn’t a complete surprise, however. The 2017/18 campaign was also a good one for the Portuguese midfielder. This time playing 56 games, Fernandes was directly involved in 32 goals, scoring 16 and adding a further 16 assists.
That was his first season since joining from Sampdoria and in that time no Sporting player has been directly involved in more Liga NOS goals than Fernandes’ 62.
Understandably, all of this led to increased interest in Fernandes over the summer, most notably from Tottenham and Man Utd. A snapshot of his growing reputation is reflected by Fernandes’ Football Index stock rise from the start of 2019.
On January 1, 2019, the Portuguese midfielder had an average price of 0.59p – not a very good level for an attacking outfield player. At the time of writing, you’d be able to buy stocks in Bournemouth forward Dominic Solanke for that price, as a comparison.
By April 1, 2019, Fernandes’ stock had risen to an average of 2.01p, similar to what you could get Frenkie de Jong for right now.
The summer transfer window saw Fernandes ‘shares’ become as valuable as 3.00 in August, when the rumours linking him to Tottenham and Man Utd were at their peak. Not to mention his role in Portugal winning the Uefa Nations League.
Things quietened down following the end of the transfer window, but Fernandes keeps on enhancing his standing on the pitch.
Fernandes already has 11 goals and eight assists across all club competitions this season, taking his goal-involvement total to 100 for Sporting – in just 127 games.
January transfer still on the cards for Fernandes?
With the season rolling along and the winter transfer getting closer, reports linking Fernandes to Spurs and Man Utd started to increase once more. Understandably, Sporting wanted to protect the real-life value of their prized asset Fernandes and a new deal was confirmed on Tuesday evening.
“It’s a pride for me and a recognition of my work; it’s a sign that I’m doing things well,” Fernandes told Sporting’s official website.
🗣️ "Para mim é, e sempre será, um privilégio estar aqui e poder vestir a camisola do Sporting CP” @B_Fernandes8 ✍️
— Sporting Clube de Portugal (@Sporting_CP) November 26, 2019
“I have been trying my best to do what is best for the club. It is for what I did on the pitch, but also showed that I liked Sporting CP and took pride in representing the club I represent.
“For me it is, and always will be, a privilege to be here and be able to wear the Sporting CP jersey.
“You can expect more and better. I promise the same delivery and dedication so we can have more moments of glory as we had last season.”
With his future seemingly wrapped up for now, Fernandes’ price on Football Index dipped from an average of 2.97p to 2.60p. But this may not be a trend that continues for too much longer.
According to the Daily Mail, Fernandes remains very much keen to leave Sporting in the January transfer window.
The Mail say Fernandes’ new deal did not actually change much within his contract. His release clause remains £85m and he did not further his commitment to the Portuguese club past 2023. The only thing that did change was Fernandes’ wage, with Sporting making him the highest paid player in the squad, as a means to get around a clause in his previous contract.
The fact remains that Sporting are still in a position where they cannot turn down significant fees, explains the Mail, who also claim the club would accept an offer of £60m for Fernandes despite his release clause of £85m.
With Jose Mourinho at the Tottenham helm and Man Utd potentially looking to spend big – whether in January or the summer – Fernandes appears unlikely to start next season with Sporting.