Manchester United confirm completed transfer as summer business begins

Manchester United confirm completed transfer as summer business begins

Manchester United have confirmed the permanent departure of Alvaro Fernandez to Benfica.

The Spanish left-back will remain at the Estadio da Luz on a full-time basis after impressing during a productive loan spell with Roger Schmidt’s side during the second half of this season.

Fernandez’s initial loan agreement struck during the January window included the option for Benfica to trigger a permanent €6million (£5.1m) summer transfer, something the Primeira Liga runners-up have now done successfully.

The 21-year-old made 16 appearances for the club over recent months, scoring one goal in the 3-1 win over Farense back in April and registering one assist in the subsequent 5-0 thrashing of Arouca.

Benfica have obviously been sufficiently impressed by his half-season stint, which came after he spent the first half of the campaign back in Spain with Granada before being recalled by United in January having only made five LaLiga starts for a team that eventually finished bottom of the table.

Fernandez joined United from Real Madrid in the summer of 2020 after initial spells with Deportivo La Coruna and Racing de Ferrol, becoming a regular at youth level and winning Under-23 Player of the Year honours before spending the entirety of the 2022/23 campaign on loan in the Championship with Preston, where he won their Young Player of the Year award.

Fernandez did not make a single senior appearance during his four years at United despite being highly-rated among fans and named as a first-team substitute on multiple occasions, though his time at Old Trafford may not be completely done just yet.

Fabrizio Romano reports that United’s sale of the Spain Under-21 international includes a buy-back clause and the right to match other future transfer offers as well as a future sell-on clause.

In a statement to confirm his exit, United said: “Everyone at United would like to wish Alvaro all the best of luck in the future and will be keeping an eye on his progress.”

Fernandez is now under contract at Benfica until 2029 and, having previously indicated a desire to return to United last year, insisted he was delighted to be staying in Portugal.

He said: "I am very happy for the trust they have placed in me. Since I arrived I wanted to continue wearing this shirt, and I want to thank you next year by fighting for all possible titles with the support of the fans. Let's go, Benfica.”

Fernandez is expected to be the first of several players to move on this summer as United prepare for a significant overhaul under new part-owners Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos.

It has previously been suggested that they are willing to listen to offers for most of their first-team squad in the upcoming transfer window, bar the likes of valued younger players such as Rasmus Hojlund, Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho.

Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial are both leaving at the end of their respective contracts.

It remains to be seen who will be in charge at United next season, with current boss Erik ten Hag’s future set to be decided during an end-of-season review held this week amid more links to the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Frank, Roberto De Zerbi, Thomas Tuchel and Kieran McKenna.

United won the FA Cup for the 13th time - one short of Arsenal’s all-time record - with a shock 2-1 victory over four-in-a-row Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday, ensuring Europa League football for next season having slumped to an eighth-place finish in the top-flight - their worst position for 34 years.