Man Utd's seven signings from Portuguese football in the Premier League era

  • Kobe Tong

Manchester United are on the brink of signing Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon.

Just as it seemed as though the Red Devils had bungled their negotiations for the Portuguese, reports on Tuesday night confirmed that an initial £47 million transfer is imminent.

According to BBC Sport, there was finally a breakthrough in negotiations this week after United agreed to a deal that could rise towards Sporting’s original £68 million valuation after add-ons.

So, assuming United can get the deal over the line, the Old Trafford faithful will be incredibly intrigued to see if Fernandes can transfer his form from Primeira Liga to the Premier League.

But as recent moves involving Joao Felix, Renato Sanches, Eliaquim Mangala and many more will tell you, signing players from Portuguese football isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Man Utd’s signings from Portuguese football

How does United’s track record compare, though? Well, the Red Devils have made a grand total of seven signings from Portugal in the Premie rLeague era… and the results are certainly mixed.

So, on the eve of Fernandes’ impending arrival, GIVEMESPORT has decided to rank those seven forbearers to show what their latest Portuguese procurement will be compared to.

7. Bebe 

Transfer: Undisclosed fee from Vitoria (2011)

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Sir Alex Ferguson famously broke precedent by signing Bebe without ever watching him play and Bebe’s performances made you wonder whether he had ever played.

Bebe only ever made seven appearances, none of which came after his debut season, and will always be remembered as one of the worst signings in United’s history.

Rating: 1/10

6. Marcos Rojo 

Transfer: £16 million from Sporting Lisbon (2014)

Things started pretty steadily for Rojo, but the 22 Premier League appearances he made during his first season have never been matched since and he hasn’t reached double figures in any of his last three campaigns.

Injuries and inconsistent form slammed the brakes on his United career by the time Jose Mourinho arrived and it’s baffling that the overzealous defender is still on the club’s books.

Rating: 4/10

5. Anderson

Transfer: £30 million from FC Porto (2007)

Look, Anderson gets a harder rep than he arguably deserves because of how overhyped he was before arriving at Old Trafford and lest we forget United bosses kept him around for eight years.

But that doesn’t make him a good signing and that unfulfilled potential, despite winning him a bucketful of trophies, meant that Anderson often cut a figure of frustration.

Rating: 5/10

4. Diogo Dalot

Transfer: Undisclosed fee from FC Porto (2018)

The jury is still out on Dalot considering he’s just 20 years old and only three seasons deep into his professional career, but we’ve seen little to suggest he’s the ‘best young full-back in Europe’ that Mourinho claimed he was.

Game time is proving hard to come by behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pecking order, but perhaps the young Portuguese can kick on after scoring his first United goal against Tranmere Rovers.

Rating: 5.5/10

3. Victor Lindelof

Transfer: £29.5 million from Benfica (2017)

You know United’s signings from Portugal have been of questionable quality when Lindelof is climbing up the podium, but the Swede has been top-class for the Red Devils in fits and starts.

Despite never being far from an unforced error – the Carabao Cup semi-final vs Manchester City, cough-cough – Lindelof is still young enough to reach his Premier League peak in years to come.

Rating: 6/10

2. Nani

Transfer: £21.5 million from Sporting Lisbon (2007)

With a knack for the spectacular, Nani burst on to the scene at Old Trafford with some unforgettable strikes and was statistically the Premier League’s best player in the title-winning 2010/11 season.

The only frustration is that the winger never reached the dizzying peak that his talent suggested he could and he probably stuck around in England for a few campaigns too many.

Rating: 8/10

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Transfer: £12.24 million from Sporting Lisbon (2003)

What. A. Signing. It may have taken a few seasons in England for Ronaldo to truly blossom, but his final three years at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ were the stuff of Ballon d’Or-winning legend.

The incomparable Portuguese set the then Premier League goal-scoring record with 31 strikes in the 2007/08 campaign and lifted his first Champions League trophy during his penultimate season.

The only shame for United is that they never witnessed Ronaldo reach his peak at the club, instead selling him on to Real Madrid for £80 million and watching him evolve and improve even more.

Rating: 10/10

This mixed bunch of players goes to show that signing players from outside of Europe’s top five leagues can always be risky, even if there’s big rewards to be had at times.

So, let the advice to Fernandes go as follows: be more like Ronaldo and less like Bebe.

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