A man in demand, but how good is Bruno Fernandes?

One of European footballs hottest properties

The football season is drawing ever closer to its conclusion and whilst the action is starting to dry up on the pitch, it's going to only increase off it. The transfer window is set to open around the world over the next few weeks and if last summer is anything to go by, we're going to see some outrageous sums of money thrown around.

Last year we saw clubs from all over the globe smash their transfer records and spend mega sums to compete for the new campaign, each to varying degrees of success. With the money and unbelievable amount of pressure on football clubs these days, it's imperative that they make the right signings but we are seeing more & more sides held to ransom when trying to do business.

One club thats phone will be ringing a lot this summer will be Sporting Lisbon, who have one of the markets hottest properties on their hands in Bruno Fernandes. The 24 year-old is in his second season in the capital and he's been an absolute revelation since arriving from Sampdoria for just £7m in 2017 - netting a staggering 47 goals in the process.

Goalscoring midfielders are one of the toughest commodities to find in the game and in Fernandes, Sporting have one of the best in the business. His driving runs from midfield make him a nightmare to pick up for opposition defenders and his impressive consistency hasn't gone unnoticed around the continent.

Clubs from Serie A, La Liga and the Premier League, which includes both Manchester clubs, have been strongly linked with a huge bid for the Portugal international and he's expected to cost upwards of £55m - big money. But who is Fernandes and is he as good as the hype suggests? We've taken a look at the 24 year-olds career so far and given our verdict.

Most goal involvements by a midfielder in Europe

Bruno Fernandes is a player that's always been held in high regard over in Portugal, but it's the last couple of seasons that he's really put himself on the map. He began his career over in Italy, working his way up from Serie B with Novara to play regularly in the top flight with Udinese and Sampdoria, which earned him a move back to his homeland in 2017.

He transferred to Sporting Lisbon for a bargain £7m and since arriving in the Liga NOS he's taken his game to dizzying new heights. His new side missed out on the league title to FC Porto but a third placed finish ensured Europa League qualification along with frustratingly finishing as runners up in the Taca de Portugal. But his 16 goals from midfield did play a major part in them picking up the Taca da Liga - where they defeated Vitoria de Setubal.

Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes' influence in the dressing as just as big in the dressing room as it is on the pitch which led to him being made captain this season - guiding them to the Taca da Liga trophy.

It was their first ever title so it was a massive moment for the club and they managed to achieve more success in it this season by retaining it, defeating Porto on penalties in the final with Bruno bagging from the spot - whilst also netting 5 times in 4 games on their way to the final. Fernandes' influence at the club has grown each season which has led to him becoming captain, so skippering his side to the Taca da Liga and the Taca da Portugal final will make him an even more attractive proposition to potential buyers.

Away from the silverware, his outrageous consistency is something that's really caught the attention of Europe's big guns. His figures across the board make staggering reading, but more so in the league where he's had 33 goal involvements (20G 13A) - this is more than any other midfielder in European football this season.

Goalscoring midfielders are so rare in the game but to find one who can create opportunities for teammates on top of that makes him one of the hottest properties on the continent - so expect clubs to be queuing up to secure his signature.

Versatile, modern footballer

Another feather in Fernandes' cap is his versatility and it's something that will appeal to several managers. Played primarily as an attacking midfielder for Sporting, he can drop deeper as an orthodox no.8 or even as the pivot in the holding role, performing admirably in each position.

But it's going forward where he really works wonders and the stats back it up. He's been involved in 46% of Sporting's 71 league goals and he's just one behind Benfica's Haris Seferovic in the race for the golden boot with one game remaining.

And as if the personal accolades didn't end there, his goal in Sporting's 1-1 draw with Tondela on Saturday ensured that he broke Frank Lampard's record of goals in a season from a midfielder from the 2009/10 season when he bagged 27, with Fernandes now on 28.

Bruno boasts plenty of similarities to the Chelsea legend with his late runs into the box and knack for being in the right place at the right time, but his creativity and close control are also immensely impressive. We've seen how his Portugal teammate Bernardo Silva has been a revelation in the Premier League since signing for Manchester City and there's no reason why Fernandes can't emulate that. He's proven that he's ready to take the next step.

He's shown loyalty to Sporting by remaining at the club after being attacked by fans at their training ground during that ridiculous summer of 2018 and signing a new contract. It includes a release clause of €100m but due to Sporting's financial constraints they could be willing to accept a figure ranging from £55m - more than affordable for European footballs elite clubs.

But in the meantime his sole focus will be Sporting and he has two games left to skipper them in, both against FC Porto. One comes in the league with the other in the Taca de Portugal final, winning that would be the perfect way to end his time at the club.

Where should he move?

His agents phone is going to be off the hook this summer with big clubs desperate to secure his services. Sides from around the continent have been linked with moves for him but it looks like the Premier League is most likely destination, with Manchester in particular calling.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United are in desperate need of re-enforcements after the most underwhelming of displays from them last season, which saw them miss out on a spot in the Champions League. Being absent from Europe's elite competition is a major worry for the club and and it could hamper their hopes when it comes to new signings.

Fernandes has played in the Europa League this season and he'll be desperate to test himself on the biggest stage of all, which going to Old Trafford won't provide for a season at least. But United will likely counter that by offering him a ridiculous wage and he would be guaranteed playing time at one of the biggest clubs in the world, which will appeal to him.

But the move we think he should make and it's one that's been touted heavily in the media is Manchester City - where he'd link up with international teammate Bernardo Silva. The 24 year-old would absolutely flourish under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola just like his compatriot has and he'd be playing for a club that is dominating domestically at the moment, whilst also possessing big ambitions on the continent.

Bernardo Silva Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has had a massive impact on Bernardo Silva's career which will appeal to the Portugal international

Game time might not come as regularly as it would should he go to Old Trafford but with David Silva not getting any younger, he would be seen as his long-term replacement. Fernandes' playing style would make him slot seamlessly into Guardiola's winning machine and playing alongside the likes of De Bruyne, Gundogan and Fernandinho in the City engine room would take his game to new heights.

It's a big summer for Fernandes and we're expecting this saga to pick up as the weeks progress. His performances over the last couple of seasons have more than earned him all the plaudits he's getting and he's going to cost someone a lot of money - but what a player they could have on their hands.

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