Sporting Manager: Bruno Fernandes 'Cannot Be Replaced' Amid Man United Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2019

OEIRAS, PORTUGAL - MAY 25: Bruno Fernandes of Sporting CP celebrates scoring Sporting CP goal during the match between Sporting CP and FC Porto - Taca de Portugal Final at Estadio Nacional on May 25, 2019 in Oeiras, Portugal. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Sporting CP manager Marcel Keizer has said it would be impossible for the club to replace Bruno Fernandes this summer amid continued speculation linking the midfielder with a move to Manchester United.

The Portugal international enjoyed a terrific 2018-19 season and has subsequently been linked with a number of high-profile clubs, including the Red Devils.

Speaking about the window, Keizer said he accepts that some of the club's best players will move on, with Fernandes being the most important, per Sport TV (h/t James Westwood of Goal):

"If it were up to me, the market would close, it's good enough for me. But all the teams are waiting to see what happens with respect to new players and possible transfers. Sporting wants to keep the best but we are not in a position to keep all of our players and something will happen but I do hope they can stay."

When asked about Fernandes directly, the Sporting manager said "a player of his quality cannot be replaced."

According to Sky Sports News, the Red Devils are interested in signing the 24-year-old before the transfer window closes on August 8. It's noted that Fernandes has said recently he is keen to play in England, and Sporting value him in the region of £60 million.

Spanish football journalist Colin Millar thinks United are looking light in midfield following the sales of Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini:

Colin Millar @Millar_Colin

A number of replies mentioning interest in Bruno Fernandes and Sean Longstaff - two players totally unproven at the top level, and who carry extortionate transfer fees. Would speculate that many of those baying for Fernandes have seen him play no more than a handful of games.

Bleacher Report's Rob Blanchette thinks Fernandes would be an ideal acquisition in a key position for the team:

Rob Blanchette @_Rob_B

Bruno Fernandes remains the one player I really want to see at #MUFC. Watching Mata on pre-season, we need a fresh talent at No.10 to link the midfield & attack. United need a creative force in the centre that scores goals. Mata is a useful sub. Id place Angel Gomes ahead of him.

Fernandes burst on to the European football scene last term, cementing his place at the creative and goalscoring hub of the Sporting side.

He's direct on the ball, either firing shorts off from distance, dribbling positively or seeking to play an incisive pass.

That mindset is reflected in the tremendous numbers he was able to post last season, both in terms of his scoring and assisting figures:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Bruno Fernandes: Earned a better WhoScored rating (7.85) than any other player in Liga NOS last season -- Should Tottenham target the Portugal international this summer? Read @BenMcAleer1's article now -- https://t.co/HDojlRmeZd https://t.co/rdnaSMCtK0

In midfield in 2018-19, the Red Devils had Paul Pogba doing a similar job to Fernandes. Neither player will control the tempo of a game throughout the course of 90 minutes, as they're more adept at venturing forward, operating with freedom and conjuring moments of magic.

With that in mind, if Fernandes moved to Old Trafford, it would be intriguing to see how he would link up with Pogba.

The United midfielder's future is far from certain though, as he has been consistently linked with a move away from the club this summer, with Juventus and Real Madrid frequently mentioned as possible suitors.