The next 24 to 48 hours will prove to be very interesting in Portugal and possibly to many Manchester United fans.
First, on Friday night, FC Porto hosts SC Braga to kick off Week 17 of the Liga NOS, followed by the always-exciting Derby between Sporting CP and Benfica in Alvalade.
Usually, these two marquee Portuguese matches are played during a Saturday or Sunday, but due to the League Cup Final 4 next week (Tuesday: SC Braga x Sporting CP; Wednesday: Vitoria Guimaraes x FC Porto), the matches are being played on a Friday night to allow for enough rest and preparation time for next week.
Porto can’t afford to lose any points as they chase Benfica who owns a four-point lead. If there was ever a week for Porto to gain ground, it would be Friday night if Benfica drop any points.
The last time Benfica played Sporting they won 5-0 in the Super Cup last August in Algarve.
Porto plays Braga, which outside of the Europa League and League Cup, has been a big disappointment in Liga NOS. Ruben Amorim took over from Ricardo Sa Pinto a short time ago with the goal to get Braga back into contention for possibly as high as third place. It will not be easy going to Porto to steal any points, but if they do, it would be a surprise.
The Bruno Fernandes to United rumors dominated the headlines last summer and did not happen.
If feels like Déjà vu all over again this January transfer window as media trip over themselves trying to report a deal that has yet to happen. Even on many social media outlets and YouTube there are reports of a deal only to discover it is supposedly getting close…yet again.
The truth is nobody outside of United, Sporting, and Bruno really know what is going on.
What people outside of Portugal need to understand is that Portuguese clubs must sell players to help make up their budgets.
There are no lucrative TV deals like the EPL. Only selling players with high release clauses help Portuguese clubs, particularly Benfica, Porto and Sporting, compete in European competitions and for the best South American or Eastern European talent.
The part that is true is that United and Sporting have been talking, but for the deal to not yet happen, it has been a suprise. One report Thursday night says Bruno was reluctant not to play in the Derby and is pressuring Sporting to sell him.
He probably doesn’t want to get hurt, but then again, who knows if the story is even true.
Sporting need the money and Bruno deserves to play in the EPL, but if United is playing hardball over paying 70 million, then to many Portuguese they are not the big club they claim to be.
Let us tell you what will happen in the next 24 hours.
Bruno will play in the Derby, then there will be reports many times over the weekend he will be sold.
Then on Monday he shows up for training in Alcochete. Then someone will continue to report the deal is getting closer and closer and closer.
Nobody really knows what will happen, but if he does show up to watch this Sunday’s Liverpool x Manchester United match, then perhaps for the first time we have some proof that a deal is getting close, since we can see it with our own eyes.