Man Utd miss out on perfect swap deal opportunity as star 'seals move away'

Alvaro Fernandez is set to join Benfica permanently. (Image: Getty)

Manchester United have reportedly pinpointed Benfica midfielder Joao Neves as a priority transfer target this summer ahead of further midfield upgrades. However, the potential first sale of the Sir Jim Ratcliffe era could thwart United’s hopes of striking a deal with the Portuguese giants.

The Red Devils will target a central midfielder in the summer transfer window ahead of expected departures in Erik ten Hag’s engine room.

Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Donny van de Beek and Hannibal Mejbri are reportedly all in the shop window as Ratcliffe looks to generate funds for a significant rebuild job.

Portuguese outlet Record claim that United have identified Neves as a priority after scouting him over a prolonged period.

The 19-year-old has already earned five caps for Portugal and has been described as Bruno Fernandes 2.0, earning the plaudits of the same player on international duty.

But any suitors may struggle to lure him away from Benfica this summer without triggering his £102million release clause.

Such a fee would make Neves United’s new record signing, eclipsing the £89m splashed to bring Paul Pogba back to the club in 2016.

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Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Donny van de Beek and Hannibal Mejbri are reportedly all in the shop window as Ratcliffe looks to generate funds for a significant rebuild job.

Portuguese outlet Record claim that United have identified Neves as a priority after scouting him over a prolonged period.

The 19-year-old has already earned five caps for Portugal and has been described as Bruno Fernandes 2.0, earning the plaudits of the same player on international duty.

But any suitors may struggle to lure him away from Benfica this summer without triggering his £102million release clause.

Such a fee would make Neves United’s new record signing, eclipsing the £89m splashed to bring Paul Pogba back to the club in 2016.

Joao Neves may be out of Man Utd’s budget. (Image: Getty)

But amid Financial Fair Play limitations and an emphasis on the club’s need to sell to buy this summer, a £102m transfer seems unlikely.

A swap deal, specifically a switch involving Alvaro Fernandez, could have been considered to bring Benfica’s valuation down.

The 21-year-old left-back ended a loan at Granada to move to the Lisbon club in January, where he has impressed.

According to Record, so much so that Benfica plan to trigger the £5.1m buy option included in his loan contract, which could make him the first sale of Ratcliffe’s reign.

United will welcome the transfer fee to boost their summer budget, but had they fended off Benfica’s interest until the end of the campaign, they could’ve had a key tool to bring Neves’ valuation down.

The M16 heavyweights now face missing out on the teenage sensation unless they quickly raise funds through further player sales.

Such efficiency would be uncharacteristic in comparison to recent years, although there is hope Ratcliffe’s new-look football hierarchy will enjoy better success with incomings and outgoings.

Reports claim no senior player is immune from a summer sale, excluding Andre Onana, Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Casemiro, Jadon Sancho, and Mason Greenwood are among the star names who could attract lucrative fees to help reshape this season’s injury-stricken, underperforming squad.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1894208/Man-Utd-transfer-news-Joao-Neves-Alvaro-Fernandez-gossip