Complete-back After his loan agreement expired, Benfica, a Portuguese club, exercised their option to purchase Alvaro Fernandez, completing his permanent move from Manchester United.

Making 16 appearances for Roger Schmidt’s team during their successful six-month stay in Lisbon, the 21-year-old helped them finish second in Liga Portugal, just behind rival Sporting CP.

The Manchester Evening News revealed before the weekend that Fernandez would be joining them, as club executives were impressed.

As of Sunday night, the deal is official, as United announced in a club statement that they had completed their first transfer of the summer transfer season for 2024.

After explaining the formalities, it concluded: “Everyone at United would like to wish Alvaro all the best of luck in the future and will be keeping an eye on his progress.”

Benfica received about £5 million in exchange for a player who never really made his professional debut at Old Trafford, plus an additional £2.5 million in prospective add-ons. The former Real Madrid player made 62 appearances for United’s development teams but was never included in Erik ten Hag’s or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squads.

He briefly played in La Liga with Granada in the first half of the current season, but earlier in 2022–2023 he was crowned Preston North End’s Young Player of the Season after spending the whole year on loan at the Championship team.

United are happy with the deal having managed to secure a buy-back clause and sell-on fee should Fernandez be sold to another club first. Sources feel they have built ‘a lot of protections’ in similar deals for recent departures, like when organising Hannibal Mejbri’s current loan to Sevilla.

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