Talks between Bruno Fernandes' representatives and Man Utd were placed on hold at the turn of the year but picked up again with a breakthrough in negotiations
Friday 25 March 2022 15:27, UK
Bruno Fernandes is on the verge of signing a new five-year contract with Manchester United on hugely-improved terms.
Just months after he joined from Sporting in January 2020 and proved to be a transformative figure under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the club had already begun the process of drafting a deal that better reflected his influence at Old Trafford.
Talks between Fernandes' representatives and United were placed on hold at the turn of the year but picked up again with a breakthrough in negotiations.
The Portugal international, currently involved in World Cup play-offs, is reportedly expected to double his weekly pay packet, shifting to £240,000 a week.
The initial deal Fernandes signed when switching from Sporting was for five-and-a-half years with the option of a further 12 months, so the aim is financially rewarding him rather than concern over his length of time.
News of the impending agreement on an improved contract stemmed in Fernandes' homeland, where the development has been painted as a show of faith from the player in United despite uncertainty over the next permanent manager and the futures of several senior members of the squad.
The 27-year-old was the club's standout player during his first 18 months at Old Trafford, but his form has significantly dipped this season.
Analysis from Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy
Of all the matters Manchester United need to work through, tying down Bruno Fernandes on a new contract with improved terms would be far down the list.
The player's current deal has three years to run with the option of a further 12 months, and the development purely revolves around financially rewarding him for his influence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and underlining his status in the squad.
It will be one less thing to tick off on United's long to-do list, but it was not pressing. With the identity of the next permanent manager still unknown - whether he would see Fernandes as core as the new contract would reflect will be intriguing given the midfielder's drop in form - and so many big question marks around the squad, the timing is odd.
While progress is being made on the dugout front, with Erik ten Hag formally interviewed over taking charge of the club, United need to have more certainty in place over the make-up of the team.
The attack and midfield need surgery, with the acceptance from the recruitment group that adding the right striker and anchor in the centre of the park is imperative.
Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata may leave in the summer, while Marcus Rashford's future is uncertain. The England international's performances have been well below par, but while he can point to being played through injury as a semi-defence, Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire have also been levels below expectation.
What happens with loaned-out pair Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek? Or Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic?
Then there is the Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum, as well as a clutch of deals that expire next summer.
When held up against the greater scheme of things, the Fernandes development is a small one.
Manchester United are suffering a tumultuous campaign after a second-place Premier League finish last season morphed into a severe decline in form - culminating with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer losing his job in November last year.
Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford with a fanfare in January, 2020 and immediately delivered with league-topping attacking returns and talismanic displays - instantly making him the man United turned to.
When factoring in the team's overall dip this season, Fernandes has, arguably, continued to perform with 15 goal involvements in the Premier League - only five players in the division have more - and creating a league-high 66 chances from open play.
Broken down, only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals and Paul Pogba has carved more assists at United. The 27-year-old has made more touches and passes in the final third than any player at the club and regained possession in the final third a team-topping 23 times.
Has the team's dip affected Fernandes, or has his dip affected the team? The question alone underlines his importance and his returns remain impressive during a troubled season - and a new five-year contract suggests the hierarchy agrees.
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