Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes is reported to have turned down the chance to swap Old Trafford and the Premier League for the Saudi Pro League in January.
After a big spending summer saw countless big-name stars head to the oil rich gulf nation to join Cristiano Ronaldo, including Neymar, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane, the winter transfer window again saw plenty of players linked with a move.
Senior United players Casemiro and Raphael Varane were among them, with Fernandes having also emerged as a rumoured Saudi target in the months leading up to January.
Portuguese outlet Record has claimed that an “astronomical offer” was presented to the skipper from Al Hilal, one of the Saudi Pro League’s ‘big four’ teams controlled by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the same PIF that majority owns Newcastle.
The proposal was rejected, with Fernandes said to feel that he still has things left to achieve in elite European football – indeed, he is yet to win a league title or continental trophy in his career.
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But Al Hilal, who can already boast the aforementioned Neymar, as well as Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Kalidou Kouliably, Yassine Bounou and former Barcelona winger Malcom, are said to be undeterred and will try again in summer.
Al Hilal are the current runaway leaders in the Pro League, seven points clear of Ronaldo’s Al Nassr with the competition paused until February 16 for winter. Jorge Jesus is head coach, but even reuniting with his former Sporting CP boss is not something that tempts Fernandes for now.
Made United captain last summer, Fernandes has a contract at Old Trafford until 2026 with an option for a further year. In reference to Saudi Pro League rumours during the first half of the season, he told Portuguese media while on international duty: “I’m happy where I am.”