Why Liverpool must look away from Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes
For all Mohamed Salah’s brilliance and exceptional inputs this season, he only cost Liverpool a rather modest £35million. Reports claim the Reds could triple that figure for relatively unknown Sporting Lisbon midfielder, Bruno Fernandes. That should never happen.
Lisbon-based newspaper A Bola per TeamTalk suggest Liverpool are ready to move for Fernandes after a host of clubs, including Chelsea, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid, also made their interest known. The 23-year-old is believed to be targeted by Jurgen Klopp as Naby Keita's long-term midfield partner.
Who exactly is Bruno Fernandes?
Fernandes is being heralded as the next big thing from Portugal. That crown has become somewhat pointless these days, especially after related dwindling fortunes suffered by recent holders, Renato Sanches and Andre Silva.
In the municipality of Maia where Fernandes was born, just two sports made headway: football and cycling. It boosted two famous clubs for both: FC Maia and Uniaslo Ciclista da Maia respectively. Fernades opted for the former, aged just eight.
However, instead of hometown side, he took his craft to fourth-tier Infesta. He spent just two years there before being snapped by a top club; Boavista. His career pulse all-but flatlined for almost nine years. Growing tired with Fernandes, Boavista let him join Italian second division team, Novara.
That move proved the watershed as all his potential sprung to life. Fernandes started creating and scoring with ease. Just one season later, he was on the train again; to Udinese. Three full campaigns later he moved once more; this time to Sampdoria, who he left for a return to his homeland in a deal worth around £7m last summer.
Exploits at Sporting Lisbon
Sporting were so confident that Fernandes will thrive in the capital that they inserted a £87m release clause in his deal. That would make him the most expensive player in Portuguese football history; indeed, the 23-year-old hasn’t put a foot wrong.
In the heart of the Lions midfield, he has proven to be near-perfect; winning the ball, carrying it all the way up the pitch, then using it to devastating effect. While managing to regain and retain possession steadily, Fernandes has added an extra ingredient to his bag of goods. Unannounced, he storms forward to contribute his quota to the team's attack.
He's done so quite effortlessly this term. With a combined 28 goals and assists in all competitions, Fernandes is Sporting's most creative player despite his deeper role. He chipped in 11 strikes in the league - ninth best in the division and the Lions' second-best behind Bas Dost. He's been rewarded with four caps and a place in his country’s provisional World Cup squad.
But is he worth the hassle?
Not at all. Liverpool doesn't need to empty its wallet on a department that appears stockpiled already. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are enough quality options for Klopp in that region.
After all, Keita will link up with the Reds this summer, the pair is very much alike. Like Fernandes, the African is quick, skillful and able to go past players. He moves back and forth, from attack to defence in an aggressive manner. However, Fernandes’ predatory eye for goal sets him ahead, though. But with Salah and friends in their usual rhythm, there will always be strikes in abundance.
Above all, Fernandes’ huge price tag makes him such a massive gamble. Just before him, Sanches and Silva didn't quite live up to the billing after departing the Primeira Liga. The 23-year-old could just follow that obscure path should Liverpool stake on him. Hopefully, they not.