Bruno Fernandes has only been at Manchester United a little over 12 months, and yet you would find very few who wouldn’t argue he’s not their defacto talisman. It’s no surprise that reports are emerging that United want to sign him to a new contract.
His penalty in the derby win over Manchester City at the Etihad last Sunday takes him to 24 goals and 18 assists in 42 Premier League matches for the Old Trafford outfit.
But there have been claims this week that the Portugal international is hesitant to immediately put pen to paper on a new contract to stay in Manchester.
That’s despite the fact the main reason behind any new deal will mainly be to boost his salary, given United aren’t fearful of losing him any time soon as he’s already tied down until 2025 on his current £100,000-a-week (before bonuses) terms.
United may want Fernandes signed to a new contract for more positive PR as much as anything. The 26-year-old will probably only extend his stay for another year or two if he does put pen to paper, but him doing so would be quite the message.
Signing a new contract would essentially be Fernandes the Red Devils to fulfil his clearly lofty ambitions.
It’s evident the success-hungry playmaker is desperate to win major honours. And if he signs a new deal, that would be a sign of his belief that he thinks United can get back among the game’s elite again in the coming years.
United have not won the Premier League title since 2013, struggling to put together a sustained assault at the summit since then, and have only sporadically featured in the Champions League.
So before he signs an extension, it has been suggested Fernandes wants the United hierarchy to spell out to him their plan for the years ahead and outline how they plan to make themselves title winners and Champions League challengers once more.
United have not made the knockout rounds of Europe’s premier competition in back-to-back campaigns since 2012-13 and 2013-14, having crashed out of the group stage this season, and clearly Fernandes needs more help to restore them as a team to truly be feared again.
And there may be no better player to satisfy Fernandes’ wish for further progress than Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland, who is on United’s radar for the summer.
They aren’t the only club keen on the Norway international, with Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona among the many others linked for the centre-forward, who will be available for less than £70million in the summer of 2020.
Signing him this summer would probably cost in excess of £100million, even if Dortmund don’t qualify for next year’s Champions League, given they can also raise money by selling another United transfer target in Jadon Sancho.
Chelsea are expected to launch a concerted pursuit of Haaland this summer and United are likely to rival them, even if it will take £100m or more.
Haaland would be worth that and maybe even double that. His stock seems to rise with every match he plays. This season he’s got more goals than games played and his overall goalscoring record for Dortmund reads a phenomenal 47 goals in as many outings across all competitions, with 11 assists on top of that.
His brace against Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday means that quite incredibly at just 20 years old, Haaland has 20 goals in Europe’s premier competition. They have come in just 14 matches.
Arguably the most complete No 9 in world football already, the Norwegian is almost like a laboratory experiment, so brilliant is he not just technically and physically but mentally.
It’s clear that he has the mentality to be one of the sport’s very biggest stars over the next decade at least and maybe even longer if he takes a thing or two from the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, still going strong at 39 and 34 respectively.
Three issues Man Utd’s new Technical Director Fletcher must address
Man Utd may have found midfield transfer solution in Porto’s upset
Man Utd transfer chief Matt Judge has three new challenges this summer
Haaland would be one of United’s most exciting ever signings, and with a striker of such predatory instinct leading the line, the Red Devils would be able to dream of titles as early as next season despite rivals Man City’s quality.
The Leeds-born striker is a monster, having already managed 100 career goals with 94 for Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund as well as six for the Norwegian national team.
Putting another statistical phenomenon like Fernandes in behind Haaland, and also providing the Scandinavian with the supporting cast of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, would give United an attack as fearsome as any.
Ed Woodward and co landing Haaland would be as strong a statement as possible to Fernandes that United mean serious business in the seasons to come.
It wouldn’t be the only signing United need to make with a top-level centre-back also eyed but in Fernandes and Haaland they would have two born winners ready to inspire them to major glory in the next few years.