At long last, one of the more wearisome transfer sagas of the past 12 months is nearing conclusion – Manchester United announced it has agreed a fee with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes. It seemed for a while that Fernandes would join United in pre-season, but, despite its seemingly obvious need for midfield reinforcements, a move never materialised and he remained with Sporting.
Speculation began to stir again last month, and the two clubs are said to have been locked in talks for much of January – though reports of Barcelona apparently hoping to sign Fernandes in order to use him in negotiations with Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno surfaced earlier this week. Whether or not that story was a ploy by an agent to jolt United into decisive action, who knows? But something seemed to change this week, as the Red Devils finally reached an agreement with Sporting.
Fernandes had a massive impact at the club during his two-and-a-half-year spell, becoming captain and scoring or setting up 67 Primeira Liga goals in 83 appearances. United certainly doesn't have a 100 per cent hit-rate when it comes to signings from Portugal – below, we examined whether its previous imports from the Iberian nation have been misses or not.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009) – HIT
The one that needs no introduction – Ronaldo was a revelation for United following his 2003 arrival from Sporting. The lanky teenager dazzled against United when it faced Sporting for the opening of its Jose Alvalade stadium and, as the story goes, those he tormented implored Alex Ferguson to sign him.
So, he did. Outrageously skilful and flashy, early Ronaldo was as fun as they come, but after bulking out he developed a deadly streak, netting 31 times in the 2007-08 Premier League season and helping them to Champions League success. He has since gone on to mark himself out as one of the all-time greats with Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.
Bebe (2010-2014) – MISS
From Ferguson's best to arguably his worst signing. Despite the Scot never seeing him play, Bebe is said to have arrived following a recommendation from Ferguson's former right-hand man, Carlos Queiroz. United reportedly paid Vitoria Guimaraes £7.5m for the attacker, but he immediately looked short of the required ability. He somehow managed to last four years at the club, including three loan spells. Most of his career since has been spent in Spain, and he's now playing for Rayo Vallecano in La Segunda.
Nani (2007-2015) – HIT
Few players polarised opinion quite like Nani during his time at United. Undoubtedly capable of the spectacular, he also had his fair share of underwhelming performances and could be infuriatingly frustrating. Like Ronaldo, Nani arrived from Sporting and it was initially said he struggled with the pressure due to comparisons with his United and Portugal team-mate.
But in 2010-11 he established himself, producing some spell-binding performances to earn himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the United Players' Player of the Year award. Injuries then took their toll before leaving in 2015, going on to have something of a nomadic career ever since, though he has become Portugal's fourth-highest capped international.
Anderson (2007-2015) – MISS
Oh, what might've been. There's little doubt Anderson was immensely talented, but throughout his time with United there were concerns about his fitness and professionalism. He probably wasn't helped by being turned into something resembling a holding midfielder, given he thrived in a more attacking role previously, but he generally failed to live up to expectations.
That's not to say he was hopeless – he amassed almost 200 appearances for the club, but given the promise he showed in his youth, he failed to reach his potential. Aged 31, he retired in September following a spell with Adana Demirspor in Turkey's second tier.
Victor Lindelof (2017-present) – HIT
After an unconvincing debut season following a move from Benfica potentially worth £38m, Lindelof has generally settled well at United and become a first-choice centre-back. Comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, the Sweden international is mostly dependable.
Nevertheless, he's certainly not the perfect defender – he's not especially quick and does appear to struggle with physical forwards. So far, he can just about be regarded a 'hit', but United will surely be hoping for an improvement from him.
Marcos Rojo (2014-present) – MISS
Rojo always looked a somewhat puzzling addition, and those initial feelings have never really gone away. Technically able and versatile enough to play either centre-back or on the left, Rojo also relishes a physical tussle. But as something of a hot-head, Rojo has a tendency to be rash. Even Sporting fans were baffled when he joined United, which is said to have tried to sell him in almost every pre-season since buying the Argentina international. He now looks set to return to Estudiantes on loan.
Diogo Dalot (2018-present) – JURY'S OUT
Lauded as the best young full-back in the world by Jose Mourinho when he signed Dalot from his former club Porto in 2018, the Portugal Under-21 international is yet to prove that claim. He showed promise last season, with his ability on the ball and crossing earning acclaim, but he failed to hold down a spot at right-back despite United's concerning lack of quality in that position – Dalot's defensive capabilities proving unconvincing. The club then went out and splurged on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot, who has suffered numerous injuries, is undoubtedly talented, but a future as a regular at United might rely on him being converted into a winger.