Man Utd take step towards record Joao Neves deal as smart Benfica agreement official

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 17 Jan 2024 07:18 GMT
  • 3 min read
Joao Neves, Benfica, 2023/24
© ProShots

Manchester United have moved a step closer to signing Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves thanks to the loan deal that see Alvaro Fernandez move to Portugal until at least the end of the season.

Man Utd confirmed that Spain U21 international full-back Fernandez will move to Benfica until the summer on Tuesday.

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The teenager’s switch to Portugal, though, represents the Red Devils taking one step towards Joao Neves.

Manchester United full-back Alvaro Fernandez has signed for Portuguese giants Benfica on loan until the end of the season,” the Old Trafford club confirmed.

Man Utd position themselves over wonderkid

The implications of this deal are further reaching than simply the development of a talented teenager.

Man Utd’s leading midfield target for the summer is Neves, who still has four more years remaining on his Benfica contract and boasts a release clause of €120 million – the same figure as Enzo Fernandez, the man he replaced in midfield.

The Old Trafford side are hopeful of building positive relations with Benfica in order to ease any move for the 19-year-old sensation. There is also hope that they do not have to pay the release fee of the player and can enter talks with the Portuguese side over a player who has an Estimated Transfers Value of €20m.

Joao Neves, Benfica
© ProShots - Joao Neves, Benfica

United do not want to trigger the player’s release clause as such payments are typically expected in one bulk operation, which is why Chelsea paid over the odds for Enzo Fernandez 12 months ago, allowing them more favourable payment terms.

Benfica have denied that there are any talks with Man Utd over a deal for Joao Neves currently, but the Red Devils' goal is to strengthen relations for a future swoop.

Meanwhile, Alvaro Fernandez’s loan is very likely to become a permanent deal, with Fabrizio Romano revealing the details of the agreement that has been struck in his case.

Reporting on X, the football transfer news specialist revealed that the deal is a loan with a buy option that is worth €6m. It becomes a permanent deal if Alvaro starts 50% of his games at the club, but Man Utd have a buy-back clause as well as a sell-on clause, ensuring they profit from any future sale.

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