Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon met to discuss the possibility of Bruno Fernandes moving to Old Trafford in January, sources told ESPN.
Sporting president Frederico Varandas and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward were present at a meeting at the club’s Mayfair offices on Friday, with talks expected to continue this week.
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United remain tight on the prospect of signing the Portuguese international, but Sporting are pushing for a deal as they seek to ease their financial difficulties. The meeting took place after the intermediaries were invited to contact United at Sporting’s request.
United watched Fernandes in the summer, but were eventually put off by Sporting’s 80 million euro asking price. However, a combination of Sporting lowering their valuation to around 60 million euros, as well as injuries to midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, prompted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the recruitment team to rekindle their interest, though agreement has not yet been reached.
Sources told ESPN that the 25-year-old, who has had a spell in Italy with Novara, Udinese and Sampdoria, is keen to join Solskjaer’s team after seeing a move to Tottenham fall through during the last transfer window.
Sporting have been trying to encourage Tottenham to enter a bidding war with United this month, but Spurs are close to an 18-month loan deal with Benfica for 21-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes.
Solskjaer is struggling with options in midfield after seeing Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera leave and lose Pogba and McTominay through injury.
Pogba underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle and is not expected to be back until February while McTominay was ruled out for two months after damaging knee ligaments against Newcastle the day after boxing. It has led United to fend off interest in Nemanja Matic and the Serb is now ready to stay at Old Trafford at least until the summer.
Fernandes, crowned 19 times by Portugal, had an outstanding season at Sporting last year, scoring 31 goals in 52 games since the midfielder. He got 15 out of 24 that term.