Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola indicated his club were never in the race to sign Bruno Fernandes prior to him joining rivals Manchester United. After a 2-0 loss to United in which City looked very much like the lesser team in Manchester, Guardiola might be ruing the missed opportunity to sign the midfield sparkplug.
United signed Fernandes from Sporting CP in January for an initial $60.9 million (£46.5 million) sum, though add-ons could increase the final cost to $88.6 million (£67.7 million).
The Portugal international has been a hit early in his United career, scoring three goals and recording two assists in his first eight appearances for the club–including a cheeky lofted through ball for Martial against City in today's 2-0 derby win.
The Citizens were also previously linked with a player who was long speculated to leave Lisbon, but Guardiola told reporters on Friday his side were never in the running:
"I said many times it looks like we are linked with a thousand million players every month. I don't know if the agents want to create something to do that. But I think the club was not in talks with his agent about this player, but they link this guy and a thousand million more."
Fernandes completed his move to United around the same time that they beat Guardiola’s side 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final in January (though United lost 3-2 on aggregate over both legs).
Fernandes made his debut several days later in a 0-0 stalemate with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 25-year-old has earned widespread praise for his displays on the pitch for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, though journalist Bill Rice noted his general attitude has also gone down a storm:
After today's result, Fernandes surely has shown Guardiola why he should have been monitoring his talent. United still remain in fifth, three points adrift from Chelsea after 29 weeks of football, but with their current form, it may only be a matter of time before the Red Devils move into the top four.