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'A player of his quality cannot be replaced' - Sporting coach wants Fernandes to stay amid Man United links

10:59 BST 24/07/2019
Bruno Fernandes Sporting
Marcel Keizer is still hopeful a prized asset will end up remaining in Portugal for at least one more year, despite rumours of an Old Trafford switch

Sporting boss Marcel Keizer wants Bruno Fernandes to remain at the Portuguese side amid ongoing links to Manchester United, insisting "a player of his quality cannot be replaced".

The Portuguese star contributed a staggering 32 goals and 17 assists for Sporting across all competitions last season, helping the team win two domestic trophies.

The 24-year-old has 48 goals and 37 assists to his name in 107 appearances for the club in total, with a number of top European clubs thought to be interested in his services.

United are top of the pile having made contact with Sporting to discuss a potential deal for Fernandes, but the two parties have yet to agree on a final fee.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested he would like to bring in one or two extra recruits before the summer window closes, having already signed Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Keizer is reluctant to lose a prized asset but concedes Sporting are "not in a position" to keep hold of all of their best players.

"If it were up to me, the market would close, it's good enough for me," the 50-year-old told Sport TV ahead of a pre-season clash against Liverpool.

"But all the teams are waiting to see what happens with respect to new players and possible transfers. Sporting wants to keep the best but we are not in a position to keep all of our players and something will happen but I do hope they can stay."

When asked specifically how Sporting would cope if Fernandes leaves, Keizer added: "A player of his quality cannot be replaced."

Fernandes is contracted to Sporting until 2023, with a €100 million (£89m/$111m) release clause included in his deal.

It is understood that the Portuguese outfit want to receive more than €62 million ($69m, £55m) for the playmaker, with Paris Saint Germain also keeping a close eye on his situation.

Fernandes has expressed a desire to play in England, but he has also grown frustrated by the ongoing speculation surrounding his future.

The Portugal international joined Sporting from Serie A club Sampdoria in 2017, ending a five-year spell in Italy during which he also played for Udinese and Novara.

In addition to his exploits at club level, Fernandes has also earned 13 senior caps for his country, helping them win the UEFA Nations League back in June.