Man Utd get ‘upper hand’ over Chelsea in ‘Bruno Fernandes 2.0’ deal as Red Devils hold transfer talks

Joe Williams
Man Utd transfer target Joao Neves
Joao Neves has been linked to Manchester United and Chelsea.

Manchester United are leading the race to sign Benfica midfielder Joao Neves as they have an advantage over Chelsea, according to reports.

The Red Devils have brought in Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund so far this summer with Sofyan Amrabat set to complete a loan deal from Fiorentina before Friday’s transfer deadline.

It seems unlikely that Man Utd will make any other huge transfers this summer with their budget stretched after failing to raise as much money in sales as expected.

There were reports ahead of the summer suggesting the Red Devils wanted to raise as much as £100m to supplement Erik ten Hag’s budget but they’ve so far brought in around £32m, although Dean Henderson’s move to Crystal Palace is about to go through.

But they are still planning ahead with The Sun claiming that Man Utd ‘have held talks with Benfica over the signing of wonderkid Joao Neves’ as they look forward to the next couple of windows.

He has been ‘dubbed Bruno Fernandes 2.0’ by some (The Sun) and now the Red Devils – who made the Portugal international their new captain earlier this summer – now ‘hold a very strong interest’ in Neves.

READ MORE: Man Utd forced to loan Amrabat and Cucurella because of Ed Woodward mistakes?

Benfica are understood to be ‘aware’ of interest from Man Utd and ‘the two clubs have held some discussions over a possible deal’ – but the Red Devils ‘may need to wait 12 months to land Neves, whose dream is to play in the Premier League’.

The Portuguese giants have no plans ‘to sell Neves until next summer’, while The Sun adds that Chelsea are ‘also interested in the teenager’ and ‘made an approach a couple of days ago’.

But Man Utd have an advantage as Benfica are ‘reluctant to engage in talks’ with the west London outfit after Chelsea’s pursuit of Enzo Fernandez in January ‘left a bitter taste’ for the Portuguese side.

Man Utd have had an underwhelming start to the new Premier League season under Erik ten Hag, despite winning two of their three matches.

Their performances have been criticised with certain players picked out for disappointing displays, including Brazilian winger Antony.

And former Man Utd striker Andy Cole thinks Paul Pogba would be “absolutely berated every week” if he was putting in the same level of performances as Antony currently is.

Cole told Betfred: “In general, end product is massive in football. Does he create chances for his teammates? Not really. Does he contribute by scoring goals? Not really. Last season he scored eight goals in all competitions and provided five assists.

“If I was playing in a team and there was an inverted winger of Antony’s ilk, then as a centre-forward I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t being provided with enough assists because my job is to score goals.

“I do understand the criticism he faces because he needs to be more productive and Manchester United spent a hell of a lot of money on him and I believe they would have expected a lot more from him.

“I understand that he’s only been in England for one year, so I completely understand that players need time to adapt, but I don’t believe he’s produced enough considering all the opportunities he’s had to play for Manchester United. He needs to do more, it’s that simple.

“Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, if this was Paul Pogba, who came for the same sort of money, he would be absolutely berated every week.”