They share a city and a long rivalry, and now Liverpool and Everton have something else in common – an interest in Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes.
According to Portuguese publication, A Bola, the two Merseyside clubs are set to battle it out in this window for the signature of the attacking midfielder, whose performances at Sporting over the last year or so have earnt him huge plaudits.
At only 24, Fernandes has racked up impressive numbers for goals and assists over the last few campaigns, with 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions last year.
Such stats haven’t gone unnoticed and many of Europe’s biggest clubs are keeping tabs on the Portuguese, but it would appear that Liverpool, followed closely by Everton, are frontrunners for his signature.
It’s difficult to see where exactly Fernandes would fit in at Liverpool; this is a team top of the Premier League, with an abundance of attacking and midfield talent, after all. However, there is talk that Adam Lallana could be on his way out of Anfield either this window or in the summer. Though Lallana hasn’t nailed a starting spot in Jurgen Klopp’s side, Fernandes would be an obvious replacement.
The question is, with the likes of Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Keita, Fabinho, Henderson and Milner all battling it out for a midfield spot, not to mention Salah, Sane and Firmino as a nailed-on front-three, would Fernandes believe he could break into the side?
He may well be a better fit for Everton, particularly if Andre Gomes doesn’t make his loan move permanent. Thought very different types of players, if Gomes were to depart, there would be a creative hole that would need filling, and Fernandes could very well do that. It might require a slight change to the system – while Marco Silva has employed Gomes alongside Idrissa Gueye this season, Fernandes would play further forward, alongside Sigurdsson, with Gueye as the midfield anchor behind.
The Marco Silva factor may also help swing things in Everton’s favour. Fernandes’ compatriot, Silva managed Sporting in 2014-15, and while Fernandes wasn’t at the club at the time, Silva will still have a relationship with the club hierarchy.
Talk of a £100 million release clause won’t scare off either side, as with Lisbon’s recent well-documented financial problems, they would likely be open to accepting a fee of around £35-40 million.
At that price, in today’s market, Fernandes represents a relative bargain, and so don’t be surprised to see him arrive on English shores very soon.