Ex-Sporting captain expects Man Utd target Fernandes to play Benfica

Joe Williams
Bruno Fernandes Sporting Lisbon

Former Sporting Lisbon captain Carlos Xavier expects Bruno Fernandes to play against Benfica on Friday despite mounting speculation that he will move to Manchester United.

The Portugal international, who has managed to contribute 13 goals and ten assists in 21 matches in all competitions this season, has been heavily linked with United as reports indicate a transfer is close.

Reports emerged on Tuesday that the Red Devils had struck a €70m deal to sign Fernandes.

Portuguese newspaper A Bola claimed that there has been an ‘agreement for €60m + €10m and the yield of players’ with United offering a choice of four players to take on loan.

Sporting have a huge match coming up against Benfica – who top the Portuguese Primeira Liga – in the Lisbon derby with their arch-rivals 16 points and three places above them in the table.

And considering Fernandes contribution already this season, Sporting will be desperate that he can play Benfica on Friday – with former captain Xavier expecting the Man Utd target to feature.

“Having a player like Bruno on the team or not, the distance is huge,” Xavier told Rádio Renascença (via Sport Witness).

“Obviously Sporting, I think, were aware in this negotiation to count on him in this game. From there they can make a negotiation or make him available for other challenges. But I think he’ll be available to play this game.”