There was a breakthrough in negotiations between the Red Devils and Sporting Lisbon on Saturday when the Old Trafford club raised their offer to €55 million plus €15 million in bonuses (£46.4 million plus £12.7 million), just €5 million (£4.2 million) short of the Lisbon club’s minimum fixed fee demand and matching their overall valuation of €70 million (£59.1 million).
It is understood that this latest offer is on the table but has not been formalised.
Talks are now on hold while the Lions’ president Frederico Varandas ‘analyses the bonuses’ included in the deal. He is expected to return to the table to make one last push for an increase in some more realistic bonuses (such as Fernandes making a certain number of appearances for the Reds, number of Portuguese caps) and a decrease in less realistic ones (such as Champions League medals won, Premier League championships won).
However, it is understood that Varandas will deliberately take at least today to continue to contemplate these options in order to buy time so that the 25-year-old can play one last time for Sporting in tonight’s match against Maritimo.
This was all but confirmed by Sporting’s head coach Jorge Silas in his pre-match press conference, in which he said ‘I think he will play and absolutely certainly will play well’.
It is to the Lions’ credit that they have managed to stall negotiations long enough to allow the midfield star to play in every one of their January fixtures. United’s negotiators, on the other hand, have blundered by allowing this to drag out over a month in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperately needed to reinforce his decimated Manchester United side.
United fans will have to be satisfied that the player’s arrival at Old Trafford will be better late than never. Meanwhile, all signs remain positive that a deal is close and and that tonight’s match at the Alvalade will be Bruno Fernandes’ last game in the green and white hoops of Sporting Lisbon.