Manuel Pellegrini was spotted in Malaga on Thursday but his club are hard at work trying to secure the services of the 26-year-old and his team-mate Eliquiam Mangala
By Duncan Castles
Manchester City are attempting to conclude the deadline-day signing of Porto midfielder Fernando amid frantic efforts by the Portuguese champions to retain the player’s services.
Though the 26-year-old will be a free agent in the summer, he is understood to have been offered a contract extension that would establish him as Portuguese football’s best-paid player.
Porto have proposed a revised salary package worth €200,000 a month, including an agreement that the Brazil-born holding midfielder can leave in six months’ time for a set fee of €15m (£12.3m).
Three points adrift of leaders Benfica in the title race, the Portuguese champions have been placed in a difficult position by their decision to allow Fernando’s midfield partner Lucho Gonzalez to join Qatari club Al Rayyan this week.
Fernando, who obtained Portuguese citizenship last month and plans to represent the national team, is pushing Porto to be allowed to join City immediately.
According to sources at the club, he has asked coach Paulo Fonseca not to select him for Saturday’s visit to Maritimo should the transfer fall through.
City also want to sign highly regarded defender Eliquiam Mangala, but have so far failed to negotiate down Porto’s lofty asking price for the France international.
While the Premier League club have offered Javi Garcia on a half-season loan as part of the Fernando deal, Porto baulked at the former Benfica midfielder’s salary. The Spaniard may now be moved to Atletico Madrid instead.
The picture has been complicated by a late Manchester United move for defender Nicolas Otamendi.
Fernando has won the Europa League, four league titles, and two Tacas de Portugal since joining Porto in 2007. Also the subject of approaches from Manchester United and Everton, he is recognised as a key component of the club’s sustained domestic success.