Manchester United have sent spies out on a widespread search to discover the next Bruno Fernandes ahead of the summer transfer window.
The Portugal international joined in January 2020 and made an immediate impact, scoring eight in his first 14 Premier League appearances.
And last year he continued to cement his status as a key player at Old Trafford by scoring 28 times from midfield.
While the 27-year-old has looked somewhat out of sorts recently, most of the United team do as well amid a disjointed season.
But Fernandes’ importance to the side cannot be understated and United are already on the lookout for his successor.
According to O Jogo, via Sport Witness, United have had their scouts out in force across the continent over the weekend.
One game where they were in attendance was the 2-2 draw between Sporting Lisbon – Fernandes’ old club – and Porto.
It was an entertaining match that descended into chaos after a 40-man brawl broke out which saw former Real Madrid star Pepe sent off, along with three others.
And United’s ‘spies’ were joined by others of their ilk from Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Monaco.
The Primeira Liga has been a breeding ground for top talents in the past, with Fernandes just one of many to develop his skills in Portugal.
Other world-class players include Bernardo Silva, Jan Oblak and Ruben Dias and there could have been a number of stars that the United scouts had their sights on.
One player that the Red Devils have liked before is Pedro Goncalves, who scored an incredible 23 times in the league last season and has been compared to Fernandes.
However, the 23-year-old missed Friday night’s fixture with a muscle injury.
Joao Paulinha has also been courting much attention despite being something of a late bloomer in his career.
After starring for Portugal over the Euros last summer, the 26-year-old has become a key part of Sporting’s set-up.
But scouts might have noted that he was one of the players to receive a red card amid a major brawl, though this fixture often has plenty of spice to it.
United could be in line for a huge overhaul in the summer with plenty of players wanting to leave while there are a number who are out of contract at the end of the season.
Ralf Rangnick is only in charge until the summer but will move upstairs into a consultancy role and his word could be crucial for the next manager in terms of new signings.