Latest Manchester United and Man City moves in Sh15 billion battle with Real Madrid
Manchester United and City are embroiled in a £120million tug of war with Real Madrid for Portugal whizkid Joao Felix.
Both Premier League clubs will have scouts watching Benfica teenager Felix in Portugal’s Nations League semi-final against Switzerland in Porto on Wednesday night.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has targeted Portugal’s latest footballing sensation as he begins the rebuilding of his team after a disappointing season.
But he faces fierce competition from Real, who are desperate to land the Benfica teenager, City and also Italian giants Juventus.
Benfica want around £120million and Real have already seen an opening bid of around £80m rejected.
But they are now expected to use Benfica’s interest in goalkeeper Keylor Navas to try to clinch a deal next week after the finals.
Felix, 19, scored 18 goals in 33 games for Benfica this season and became the youngest player to score a Europa League hat trick since Sergio Aguero when he netted three against Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter finals in April.
The teenager is set to make his senior debut for Portugal against the Swiss in Porto, after being called up for the finals by coach Fernando Santos.
And City’s Portuguese star Bernardo Silva has tipped Felix for “a brilliant career” as Manchester City step up their interest in him.
Bernardo, 24, said: “Felix is very young, he has a giant margin for progression, and he has shown that if he works, and if he makes the right choices in his career, he can make a brilliant career.
“So he could play for the best clubs in the world and can be part of a group that few players can reach.”
Super-agent Jorge Mendes represents both treble-winner Bernardo and Felix.
Bernardo believes Felix and Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes, also linked with City, have the ability to secure moves to top European clubs this summer.
He said: “I think they are players who have shown in our (the Portuguese) league that they have a lot of quality and could maybe go to leagues with more competitive clubs, without being critical of our league and our clubs.”
Meanwhile Portuguese sports minister Joao Paulo Rebelo last night labelled as “a*******” fans who barracked the Benfica youngster at Portugal’s training camp at Espinho on Sunday.
Rival Porto fans banged on the roof of the teenagers’ parents’ car when it arrived at the training camp, and booed him.
The minister said: “It was a******* behaviour of one, two or a handful of individuals who do not represent the support the country gives our players, especially when they’re wearing the Portugal shirt. Of that I have no doubt.”
Portugal defender Pepe denied that his team were favourites to win the tournament this week, despite being on home soil, saying: “We are candidates, not favourites.”
England face the Netherlands on Thursday and the Portuguese are the only one of the four teams in the Nations League finals not to have had any players involved in the Europa or Champions League finals last week.
But Pepe said: “I, for one, was in the Portuguese Cup final last week and after a few days to rest, I had to change the ‘chip‘ for a new competition. But we are defending our country, we don’t have to apologise for that. We have enough quality.”
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