Rumours have linked former toffee Manuel Fernandes with a third stint at Goodison after he mutually agreed to terminate his contract with Besiktas. The Turkish club had paid Valencia €2 million for his services – a huge drop on the €18m the Spanish side paid Benfica for him in 2007 with Fernandes paid €2m for the 2011-12 season (roughly £31k per week).
The midfielder departed after a financial crisis at the Turkish outfit who couldn’t deliver either his basic salary or the proposed rise of €100,000 for the next 2 years. Fernandes was not the only player to fall victim to the clubs poor financial mis-management with ex toffee Matteo Ferrari also being left out of pocket by the club (he has since departed and rocked up at MLS outfit Montreal Impact). Besiktas were originally handed a suspended sentence and have consequently been banned from European football for one season for their conduct.
On the pitch, the Portuguese had 2 productive loan spells at L4 either side of an ill-fated big money move to the Mestella where he turned out on a sporadic basis for la liga outfit Valencia. Fernandes was usually deployed for us as a central midfield regista. He has exceptional skill on the ball, using his quick feet to dribble at speed which make him adept at winning fouls (29 in 18 starts during his loan spells). He reserved his better displays for the big games vs Man Utd (goal) and in the wins against Arsenal and Newcastle (2 assists) – all at Goodison. Defensively he is competent with good upper body strength but lacks the drive and intensity in terms of pressing that say Fellaini delivers. If Moyes is looking to use the big Belgian in a more advanced role next season- and the stats say he should – then we have a more orthodox central midfield role up for grabs. Like Gibson, Fernandes is more right footed and prefers to be on the ball rather than working to win it back so its dubious if they would be a good fit as a partnership. He also has a tendency to drift out of position and make rash challenges (he conceded 7 bookings last season).
Although he was omitted from Portugal’s Euro 2012 squad this week he showed in the Europa league last season with 5 assists as well as 13 assists and 5 goals in the Turkish top flight he is far from finished and at 26 years of age he will feel he still has something to give. This creative spark is something Moyes will be well aware is the number one priority recruitment wise this summer particularly in wide areas where we have lost last season’s 3 most incisive players in terms of Pienaar, Donovan and Drenthe who amassed 20+ assists between them in their limited game time. The Scot is clearly a fan of Fernandes and his box of tricks having tried and failed to recruit him permanently and then trying to get him on loan for a third time in 2008, so with no fee its clearly a deal the frugal thinking Scot would be keen on. Whilst Fernandes is a character of dubious moral fibre I enjoyed watching him at Goodison and if a deal can be done I’d be confident he could ‘do a job’ for us again.