Newcastle’s former manager Rafa Benitez admitted that the club could’ve signed Bruno Fernandes on a free transfer.
Every once in a while, we hear a story like this. Ronaldo could have signed for Barcelona or Arsenal, Iniesta almost signed for Rangers… You end feeling a bit sorry for the clubs that miss out on these big chances. This time, the unlucky club is Newcastle United.
Rafa Benitez confessed to The Times that his Newcastle team missed out on the chance to sign United’s star man Bruno Fernandes. In fact, the deal with the €90 million valued midfielder could’ve been completed for free.
“Bruno Fernandes was a player we were following at Newcastle United. He was at Sporting Lisbon and he had an issue with his club. There was a chance he could leave on a free.
We were progressing but the problem was that the matter would go to court and that would complicate it. The club didn’t want that.”
Benitez, currently managing Chinese side Dalian Yifang, is referring to an incident that occurred back in 2018. After a series of bad performances, members of an organized fan-group called Juve Leo (Young Lions) attacked Sporting players in their youth academy. In the aftermath of the attack, Bruno Fernandes is heard on tape saying that it had been a pleasure to work with his teammates, therefore hinting his exit.
The former Sporting star feared for his family’s security.
Bas Dost was the only Sporting player the assaulters managed to injure. In fact, the Dutch striker was left unconscious on the floor after being hit with a belt buckle in his head. Several highly-rated players left the club after the attack, such as Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, and Rafael Leao.
Bruno Fernandes received death threats and decided to relocate his family to the city of Porto, which sparked transfer rumors. Although the United star initially pushed to terminate his contract, he later reconsidered and decided to stay at Sporting. Thanks to Rafa Benitez, we now know that the Portuguese midfielder did receive an offer but eventually got withdrawn due to legal concerns.
In fact, Manchester United will have to thank Newcastle for not wanting to pursue the Fernandes deal. Since he arrived at Old Trafford, the player’s contribution has been more than evident. Moreover, he has played a huge part in Manchester United’s title hopes this season.