What could have been. A familiar tale for Tottenham Hotspur but you can forgive Daniel Levy for living to regret Spurs’ costly decision not to match Sporting’s valuation for Bruno Fernandes in August 2019.
In that very transfer window, all the talk surrounding Fernandes had involved Manchester United, who were keen to distance themselves from reports.
United were insistent that speculation was being driven from the Portuguese press, in a bid to inflate Fernandes’ price-tag.
However, their interest was legitimate but they were instead focused on signing a new centre-back which would arrive in the form of their new captain Harry Maguire.
In the background, Tottenham were beginning to make movement for Fernandes with Christian Eriksen now in the final year of his contract.
But club president Bruno Varandas has now revealed that he decided to make a U-turn on that decision when no suitable offer arrived, with Spurs’ proposal way below their asking price.
Varandas recently told Record: “At the end of June, we had become aware that we were going to sell Bruno. We had already signed Camacho, Rosier and Vietto, and we wanted to bring in a striker and a midfielder who were practically closed.
“The last four days of this market were the worst of my presidency, that’s when I realised that we didn’t sell Bruno Fernandes.
“Bruno’s sale was very conditioned by his return. If Sporting refused a bid of €35million, we would have to give his agent €5million. This clause was made public irresponsibly.
“It was one of the things that seriously penalised us. And it was only in this window that Sporting took that weight off our shoulders, to go and negotiate.”
Further down the line, Sporting were left with no choice but to cash in on Fernandes to balance their books. Their decision to hold firm the previous summer had backfired as Manchester United profited, with Sporting forced to reduce their asking price.
Fernandes has since made no attempt to hide his true feelings that he was set on joining Tottenham before his move to United materialised.
The United talisman, who has been a revelation since arriving on English shores, even admitted the collapse of the move to north London left him “sad”.
“I was close to Tottenham. In the summer I was closer to Tottenham than Manchester,” he told the Official Manchester United Podcast.
“Sporting thought at that moment the proposal was not good enough, they thought they deserved more for a player like me. They wanted more money. I was not mad, I was sad.
“I thought my dream of coming to the Premier League was not happening. At the time, the dream to come to the Premier League, to a club like Tottenham was an amazing proposal.”
United will feel astounded with the way things panned out but for Tottenham, this really was a case of what could have been for Levy, with Jose Mourinho also now paying the price for Spurs’ reluctance to pay up.