Man Utd could repeat Liverpool trick for spectacular ace Messi loves

Inside Man Utd's preparations for Real Sociedad away day

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Manchester United could take a leaf from Liverpool’s book by raiding Benfica for one of their best players who has already received a glowing review from none other than Lionel Messi, according to reports. The Red Devils are thought to be in the market for additional reinforcements at the turn of the year, with Erik ten Hag looking to strengthen his ranks in order to boost his preparations for the Premier League run-in.

Benfica have emerged as one of Europe’s leading talent factories over the years, with Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez one of several players to have left the club for a new challenge in the Premier League in recent seasons. It seems as though United could be the next team to poach one of Benfica’s up-and-coming stars in Enzo Fernandez, who is being tracked by those in power at Old Trafford ahead of the January window, according to 90min.

It is claimed that United are leading a gaggle of clubs in the race to land Fernandez and have decided to step up their interest by scouting the player closely over the last few weeks. They were reportedly eager to sign the 21-year-old before he joined Benfica from River Plate in July, while Manchester City and Newcastle were also credited with a desire to bring him to England during pre-season.

Wolves came agonisingly close to securing a move for Fernandez prior to his Benfica switch, with club representatives having flown out to South America in order to tie up the loose ends of his contract over the summer. A deal with Benfica had already been signed off upon their arrival, though, and Wolves ultimately ended up signing Matheus Nunes from Sporting instead.

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United have continued to track Fernandez’s progress throughout his short spell in Portugal but are not said to be the only club in Europe with the idea of snapping him up when the bidding opens in January. It remains to be seen whether the Red Devils will be able to seal the deal in order to add some extra quality to their midfield ranks next year, with Ten Hag already having improved things in the position by signing Casemiro from Real Madrid over the summer.

Fernandez, meanwhile, recently received high praise from seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi, who showered the Benfica man in glory after making his international debut alongside Thiago Almada earlier this year.

“They are two kids that we already knew, both with a big future,” Messi told La Pagina Millionaria. “Enzo is very intelligent. They are both very good. [Enzo] is a player with a lot of personality, a good pass. I think they are two spectacular players.”

Fernandes has also been given the seal of approval by Jose Peseiro, the former Porto and Braga coach now in charge of the Nigeria national team, who likened the player to Zinedine Zidane while discussing his talents last month.

“The best player I worked with was Zidane at Real Madrid when I was part of [Carlos] Queiroz’s coaching staff,” Peseiro told A Bola. “Of course, I don’t want to compare but I’m talking about Enzo’s passing and surprising vision, a bit like Zidane. Enzo is 21 years old? Either that’s a lie, or he’s a genius!”

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