By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 17th July 2019
Italian journalist Pietro Balanzo Prota first suggested that Liverpool were ‘interfering’ in Manchester United’s attempts to sign Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes on Sunday.
Little over 24 hours later William Hill reported a rush of bets on the Portuguese international moving to Anfield, which saw odds on that transfer tumble from 9/2 all the way into 1/2.
🏴 Two teams are now contesting for #BrunoFernandes. #ManUtd were really close to sealing the deal but now #Liverpool have interfered the negotiations. The player has been dreaming about the PL since childhood.
Who will be the winner?
— Pietro Balzano Prota (@PBPcalcio) June 23, 2019
Meanwhile, United, having previously been odds-on to sign the 24-year-old sensation, were pushed out to 11/4 in the Bruno Fernandes transfer betting on the back of the significant market move.
After a stunning campaign at Estadio Jose Alvalade which yielded 20 goals and 13 assists in the Primeira Liga alone, he’d likely come in fairly near the top of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield pecking order.
But which of Liverpool’s Champions-League-winning front six will suffer most from the signing?
All midfielders getting a status downgrade, except maybe Fabinho
Fernandes’ versatility saw him used in no fewer than six specialisations across midfield and attack during club outings last term, according to WhoScored.com.
Much like Klopp, Leoes manager Marcel Keizer typically employed either 4-3-3 OR 4-2-3-1 formation in 2018/19, with Fernandes most often used as either the central gear in the three-man middle band of the former or the number 10 in the attacking trio of the latter.
He also popped up on the left and right flanks, but no fewer 13 of his 28 goals and 11 of his 14 assists across all competitions last term came in the first of the two central roles mentioned.
This suggests Jordan Henderson and James Milner are certain to suffer some degree of subordination, while Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum may also see their game-time dip.
Fernandes’ arrival will also likely impact the return of the fit-again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, the pay-off for Liverpool will be a vast depth in terms of dynamic midfielders.
Averaging more passes per game than any other Sporting midfielder last season alongside his scoring and assisting feats, the Portuguese is a playmaker with a potent end product.
It’s unfair to expect him to be bossing things from a defensive standpoint too and he was well down the tackling and intercepting stats for his current club in 2018/19.
As a result, Fabinho arguably has least to fear from a player that’s also made some scoring appearances from the two in the 4-2-3-1 for Sporting of late.