Manchester United have regularly been left to rue their inactivity in the transfer market, with the Red Devils having repeatedly missed the chance to land promising young talents on the cheap, only to then be quoted far greater fees to sign those players later down the line.
That has been evident in the case of Argentina international Enzo Fernandez, with reports earlier this year having suggested that the midfielder was a target for the Old Trafford outfit, only to eventually join Benfica in the summer for an initial fee of just €10m (£8.7m).
The suggestion is that United are keen to atone for that missed opportunity by making another move in 2023, with 90min reporting last month that the Premier League giants are among a number of clubs to be keeping a close eye on the youngster.
The former River Plate gem will likely not come cheap, though, with reports in Portugal suggesting that he has a release of around €120m (£104m), with the Lisbon outfit unlikely to be in any rush to cash in on their recent addition.
Despite that hefty price tag, it could well be worth paying for Erik ten Hag’s side if they are to snap up Fernandez in the New Year, with the 5 foot 10 sensation having illustrated his quality in recent weeks after enjoying a “brilliant” World Cup, in the words of journalist Liam Twomey.
The highly-regarded “cheat code” – as described by Kwadwo Sheldon – played a vital role in helping Lionel Scaloni’s side to secure glory in Qatar, having featured in all seven games in the tournament for the South American giants.
The playmaking “phenomenon“, as lauded by talent scout Jacek Kulig, had only made three appearances in friendlies prior to the start of the competition, although he quickly established himself in the team after netting a glorious curling effort in the group stage win over Mexico.
The dynamic ace was a truly relentless presence in midfield throughout the tournament, having won an impressive 75% of his aerial duels while also averaging 3.1 tackles per game, ranking joint-third in the competition as a whole for tackles won (15).
Such standout performances in front of a global audience unsurprisingly saw the ten-cap menace claim the tournament’s Young Player Award, with that only set to further increase the growing list of suitors who are chasing his signature.
Those displays have been a continuation of the San Martin native’s form at club level, with Fernandez having scored three goals and laid on five assists in all competitions for Benfica this term, while he also ranks in the top 1% in Europe for progressive passes as a marker of his ball-playing quality.
The signs are that the exciting asset will improve even further over the coming years, with United needing to atone for their previous inaction and secure his services in 2023.