Football

Manchester United closing in on Bruno Fernandes: Reports

Red Devils manager Solskjaer has personally scouted Portuguese midfielder, who has scored 15 goals this season

Manchester United appear primed to sign Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes, according to media reports.

The 25-year-old, who has scored 15 goals in 24 matches for Sporting Lisbon this season, was linked to United and Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, with the Portugal international since admitting that he had spoken to Spurs and was keen on a move to north London.

However, with Tottenham now reportedly close to signing fellow Portuguese midfielder Gedson Fernandes on loan, media reports in England, Portugal and Italy have suggested that United are closing in on the Sporting star, with a fee of £55 million (S$96.8m) mooted.

Having previously said he was already looking for "alternatives" to his star player, Sporting coach Silas was asked if there was a deal in place with United following his side's 3-1 win at Vitoria Setubal yesterday.

Said Silas: "I can't guarantee any of these things because I don't know.

"I'm already thinking about the game with Benfica and I'm thinking about using him."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his assistant Mike Phelan were in the stands at the Estadio Jose Alvalade for Sporting's previous match against Porto.

Last week, Sporting president Frederico Varandas flew to London to meet United power brokers Ed Woodward and Matt Judge, according to reports.

Asked about Fernandes after Manchester United's 4-0 English Premier League win over last-placed Norwich City yesterday, Solskjaer said: "Bruno Fernandes? I can't talk about individuals that play for other clubs, but I've got to say I do have the backing.

"We do have the backing to do something if the right thing comes up in this window.

"The owners and (executive vice-chairman) Ed (Woodward), they know what we're building towards."

Against the Canaries, Marcus Rashford marked his 200th United appearance with a brace.

The 22-year-old England forward opened the scoring after 27 minutes of a one-sided encounter with a volley at the far post, then converted a penalty after Brandon Williams was brought down by Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul on 52 minutes.

There were more goals from Anthony Martial and the increasingly impressive 18-year-old Mason Greenwood as the strikers carried the team to a win that lifted them to fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

United, responding well after last week's humbling by Manchester City in the League Cup, should have won more convincingly at Old Trafford, reported AP.

Solskjaer was full of praise for Rashford, who has 19 goals for the season in all competitions in easily the most prolific season of his career.

"What an achievement to get to 200 games at his age," Solskjaer said.

"He's absolutely top class to work with, a great kid. He wants to learn, improve and he knows how to keep his feet on the ground.

"Today he was carrying a few knocks but there was no chance he was going to say to me before the game he didn't want to play.

"He will become better, but he has everything to become a top-class player; attitude, skill, physique.

"I'm delighted I have three centre forwards scoring today."

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin said on the BBC that there was no way the Canaries could have stopped Rashford.

He said: "(United) were creating chances... and I just don't see any way they could have stopped Rashford. He was on such good form."

Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott added on Sky Sports: "I think he's learning the knack of affecting games, whether it be a top performance or a goal or an assist.

"If he learns to do that more often, he'll be the world-class player we all hope he can be."


LAST NIGHT'S RESULT

Bournemouth 0 Watford 3

Football