Manchester United to decide the battle for Portugal’s defensive midfield role?

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Manchester United's search for a new midfielder could have ramifications that affect Portugal's World Cup campaign.

Manchester United fans the world over are familiar with the name William Carvalho. Among all the midfielders linked with a possible move to Old Trafford, the Sporting Lisbon man is the most regularly touted...in part because David Moyes has reportedly scouted him numerous times this season.

While Atletico Madrid’s Koke is also heavily linked, the Spanish side’s progress both domestically and in Europe suggests a move for the Portugal international is far more likely – although his €45million release-clause could prove a stumbling block.

And yet there is a far cheaper and more realistic option, a man who does exactly what United need but would cost little more than a signing-on fee.

That man is FC Porto’s Fernando, who is out of contract in the summer and has himself been suggested as a possible United recruit.

So who is it to be, the man with the multi-million-pound release-clause or the free agent?

At first glance it is a no-brainer. And yet the development of Carvalho – and the regard with which he is held in his homeland – suggests he would be well worth the outlay.

Given that Fernando has recently received Portuguese citizenship, and is now talking about representing his adopted homeland instead of Brazil, he could soon be competing with the Sporting man for a place in the World Cup starting XI.

So what does that change in regards to United’s apparent pursuit? On one side, there is a sense that neither player will leave so close to a major tournament. Should they wish to secure a place in football’s grandest competition, they would be wise to stay where they are and save the transition for another, less important day.

But conversely, one or both men could see a move to Old Trafford as the catalyst to secure a starting birth. If they arrive in England, hit the ground running and propel Moyes’ men to a trophy or two, it would be impossible to ignore them.

Either way, United could play a huge part in the decisions that lay ahead for Portugal coach Paulo Bento; either by being the destination of choice for either Carvalho or Fernando, or by being the risk neither man is willing to take.

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