Manchester United are reportedly in the running to sign Sporting Lisbon sensation Nuno Mendes after a string of impressive displays from the youngster.
What’s the talk?
According to The Sun, United have already ‘made contact’ with the Portuguese champions over a move for the 18-year-old full-back ahead of the upcoming transfer window.
The report states that a £52m fee is being muted and that Mendes shares the same agent as Bruno Fernandes, who left Sporting for Old Trafford 18 months ago.
Woodward must move
Mendes has taken the Primeira Liga by storm this season, making 29 league appearances for the capital club as Ruben Amorim’s men ended a 19-year wait for the top-flight title.
He could become the latest name to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils revolution after Manchester City cooled their interest after Verde e Brancos named their price for the Portugal international.
While some may argue that the 20-time English champions are well-stocked at left-back with Luke Shaw and Alex Telles, signing a generational talent like Mendes is simply an opportunity United can’t afford to pass up on.
Shaw has been magnificent this season and is undoubtedly the short-term solution to Solskjaer’s left-back needs, but at just 18, Mendes could grow and develop for a couple of years under the Norwegian’s tutelage while getting enough game time in cup competitions to continue his on-pitch development.
Summer-signing Telles has struggled to adapt to life in the English top-flight so far and could still be sold for a relatively high price, given his contract has three years left to run.
It would leave United with the perfect scenario. Their first-choice full-back would be an established Premier League player entering his prime years with over 200 senior appearances to his name, and his understudy would be a teenage prodigy admired by the continent’s top clubs.
Former Portugal international Costinha spoke to Goal after Mendes was named on the 2021 NXGN list of the world’s top teenage talent, and gave a glowing reference of his compatriot.
“Nuno Mendes (is the top talent). I don’t think he will be here next season,” claimed the retired midfielder.
“If I was a scout for the big clubs in Europe, I would look at him. Eighteen years old, a left-back – and there aren’t many left-backs in the world with that quality – then I would definitely go and pick him.
“He is strong physically and in his head. He has an excellent left foot, and he has very good pace.”
Therefore, Ed Woodward must seal a deal for the £22.5m-rated gem before he steps down from his position on the United board this summer, and leave the Premier League giants with at least one positive note.