Man Utd transfer news: Only three options to replace Bruno Fernandes

Robin Bairner
Bruno Fernandes, Man Utd, 2023/24

Manchester United face a renewed threat over Bruno Fernandes in the summer, with the Saudi Pro League reportedly eyeing up a big move for the 29-year-old playmaker.

Record reported on Sunday that clubs from Saudi Arabia had made a move for Fernandes during the January transfer window, but having been unable to land the Portugal international at that juncture are ready to revisit the transfer in the summer.

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Al-Hilal were one of the teams quoted but others are likely to be involved.

At a crossroads in their history, Man Utd may be tempted to allow Bruno to leave. His departure would help signal the beginning of the INEOS era at Old Trafford, with the former Sporting CP star something of an icon of the Glazers’ latter years.

But equally he is one of United’s few genuinely reliable players, and in the particular role he plays he could be painfully hard to replace.

This is underlined by data analytics experts SciSports, who show there are just a handful of players in the world game capable of executing the No.10 role as Bruno does at Old Trafford.

FootballTransfers looked at attacking midfielders who have:

  • At least 75% similarity in playing style
  • Top third in passers
  • Top third in offensive positioning
  • Top third in prevention
  • Players with SciSkill potential of at least 109 (matching Fernandes’ current ability)

This filter throws up only three players who realistically could sign for United.

Bruno Fernandes’ potential Man Utd replacements

In an ideal world, Jamal Musiala would be Man Utd’s top pick here but Bayern Munich are highly unlikely to allow their brightest young prospect to go unless the Red Devils pay well over his market value of €95 million. Given the widespread need for reconstruction around the squad and the financial constraints around the club’s spending, this is not impossible but highly unlikely.

James Maddison is, similarly, a player United have been linked with in the past, but having moved to Tottenham six months ago, and prospect of a deal here is scant.

So onto the three greater possibilities.

Julian Brandt at 27 might be older than Man Utd might ideally want a new signing to be, but given the scant options on offer as like-for-like replacements for Bruno Fernandes, this could be seen as a strong option. He is a player who is an oven-ready upgrade – the only player who could realistically be captured to fall into this category.

Worth €40m, his price is not crazy either. Arsenal and Newcastle have been linked over the course of the last year, and luring Brandt away could be difficult given he still has more than two years to run on his deal.

Both of the other options open to the Old Trafford club are prospects.

Bilal El Khannouss of Genk is a 19-year-old Morocco international while there has been a great deal of excitement around Red Bull Salzburg over Israel international teenager Oscar Gloukh.

SciSports report that El Khannouss has the higher ceiling, and with an Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of €15m would represent a cheaper bet than €16.5m Gloukh.

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