Manchester United fans have told the club's vice-executive chairman Ed Woodward to abandon plans to sign Bruno Fernandes and recruit Benfica’s Rafa Silva instead.
United fans tuned in in their droves to watch Fernandes’ Sporting Lisbon face Benfica in the Lisbon derby in the Primeira Liga on Friday night.
That’s with the Red Devils in negotiations to sign £60million-rated midfielder Fernandes, who Sporting insisted on keeping until this weekend in order for him to face their local rivals.
The 25-year-old has produced 15 goals and 13 assists this season but could not have a telling say at the Jose Alvalade Stadium on this occasion, with Benfica winning the game 2-0, despite his lively display.
Substitute Rafa Silva scored the goals, coming off the bench on 74 minutes and finding the back of the net six minutes later before adding a second in the ninth of 10 minutes’ added time.
Man Utd fans tell Ed Woodward to scrap Bruno Fernandes transfer to sign Benfica star Rafa
That left Fernandes’ Sporting 19 points behind their league-leading neighbours, with the Portugal international unable to leave his club with a parting gift, if indeed he does leave before their next match against Braga in the Taca da Liga semi-final on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
But United fans took to Twitter after Sporting’s loss to tell the Red Devils to look at signing Benfica attacking midfielder Silva, with Fernandes’ compatriot’s brace taking him to seven goals and four assists in 14 games this season.
One tweeted: “@ManUtd Get Rafa instead #Mufc.”
“Scrap that. Sign this Rafa bloke,” another supporter said, tongue firmly in cheek.
Another wrote: “F*** Bruno fernandes United want to go sign that Rafa silva.”
A fourth asked: “Can we sign Rafa Silva instead?”
“Haven't you seen Rafa Silva of Benfica? Sign him! @ManUtd,” demanded another fan.
One demanded both Fernandes and Rafa be signed, saying: “Rafa is an absolute baller. @ManUtd sign him anorl.”
Meanwhile another took Silva’s performance as an opportunity to take a dig at Jesse Lingard, who has endured a disappointing last 18 months.
“This Rafa Silva is a baller!! Way better than Lingard #MUFC,” they wrote.
Another simply said: “We should buy rafa silva #MUFC.”
Despite their defeat, Fernandes was one of Sporting's more impressive performers with three key passes among his highlights as he demonstrated his abilities on the ball.
One particular first-half pass caught the eye to former Liverpool man Rafael Camacho, who subsequently hit the post after his team-mate's 60-yard ball forward.
Express Sport understands the attack-minded midfielder has already agreed personal terms over a move to Old Trafford.
He is expected to sign a four-and-a-half year deal worth around £150,000-a-week, should Sporting and United agree on a fee.
Negotiations are currently being held up, however, with the Premier League giants unwilling to meet Fernandes' full valuation.
They have currently offered £42.6million (€50m) up front with £25.6m (€30) in add-ons for the former Tottenham target.
And according to transfer expert Duncan Castles on Reach PLC’s Transfer Window Podcast, United have inserted three unrealistic clauses which would bring the fee from £42.6m to £68.2m.
Speaking on Friday, Castles said: “Problems started last night when Sporting let it be known that the offer Manchester United had made to them for the player in cash was well below their expectations.
“So they’ve offered €50m guaranteed and €30m in bonuses. But those bonuses are dependent on winning the Premier League, winning the Champions League and Bruno, I think, finishing in the top three in the Ballon d’Or.
“I think Sporting had the position that, the way Manchester United are playing at the moment, that amounts to an offer of €50m, which is less than they were offered by Tottenham in the summer.
“Tottenham offered them €45m guaranteed with bonuses and about €10m of those bonuses were achievable.
“Sporting say they want a minimum of €65m guaranteed and the bonuses achievable.”