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Manuel Fernandes

Manuel Fernandes
Squad number 23
Position Midfielder
Joined on 29 January 2007
Joined from Benfica (Por)
Transfer fee On Loan
Full debut v Blackburn (h)
10 February 2007
Contract duration 6 months
Contract expires June 2007
Rejoined on 12 January 2008
Joined from Valencia (Spa)
Transfer fee On Loan
Contract duration 6 months
Contract expires June 2008
Born Lisbon, Portugal
Date of birth 5 February 1986
Height 6' 0"
Nickname(s) Manelel�; Manny
Honours Portuguese international

Soccerbase Datafile

Manuel Fernandes is a Portuguese international midfielder who rejoined Everton on loan in January 2008, just months after seemingly turning his back on a permanent move to Goodison Park in favour of Valencia in Spain.

The player was hours from putting pen to paper to finalise a complex £12m transfer that would apparently have bought 100% of his rights from Benfica and Global Sports Agency but flew to Spain the following day, possibly at the behest of his Potuguese employers, to join Valencia instead.

His move to Mestalla turned sour almost immediately, however, following the departure of manager Quique Sanchez Flores. His successor, Ronald Koeman, set about overhauling the squad and Fernandes found himself surplus to requirements.

He returned to Goodison Park for a second loan spell with a view to making the move permanent in the summer of 2008.

Capped twice already by Portugal, Fernandes is a highly talented midfield player who was originally billed by former Porto and Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, as the new Claud Makelele but his strengths appear to be going forward.

Capable of mesmerising skill on the ball, with great passing ability and an eye for goal, Manuel won the Goodison faithful over with a stunning strike against Manchester United in April 2007 and it's a sign of the affection with which he is held that he was welcomed back to Everton with open arms in January 2008 despite the controversy surrounding his volte face the following August.

His performances during 2008 were rather less impressive... but he finally came good in the last game of the season, and a vital humiliation of Newcastle, in which he played a vital part. Strange and decidedly dubious sources (wikipedia; suggested he had been retained on loan, and he remained a fixture on the squad list at for months after he had returned to Valencia at the end of his second Everton loan spell.  Would he return for a third time.... Apparently not!

In-Depth Profile

Manuel Henriques Tavares Fernandes was still a month shy of his 22nd birthday when he rejoined Everton in January 2008, but he'd already packed a fair amount of incident into the early part of what promises to be a glittering career.

His return to Goodison on loan a year after arriving on similar terms was his third move in 18 months... but both player and club alike hope that he will sign permanently in the summer and gain some semblance of stability.

Fernandes grew up in the Lisbon suburb of Amadora often playing street football with fellow midfielder — and corn-rowed lookalike — Nani who signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2007.

His professional career started at Benfica, where he rose up through the youth ranks and made his SuperLiga debut for the senior team in the 2003-04 season. After playing a significant role in the Lisbon club's 2004-05 title success, it became clear that he was a special talent and it wasn't long before the Portuguese national team beckoned. Then Chelsea manager José Mourinho compared him to Claude Makélélé, stating that the Manuel was better than the Frenchman at the same age.

Nevertheless, either because he was surplus to requirements at the Stade de Luz or merely represented a sizeable cash windfall for Benfica, Fernandes joined Portsmouth on loan in July 2006 with the option to sign permanently. The terms of the contract were somewhat unusual, though — Pompey would be required to buy Manuel for £12m if he played three consuecutive games for the south coast club.

Fernandes played 12 games for Portsmouth, and scored in the Carling Cup, but Harry Redknapp baulked at the huge transfer fee and he returned to Benfica in the winter of 2006.

Seeing the opportunity to add some genuine flair at no immediate cost and sign a young player with Premier League experience, David Moyes approached Benfica about bringing the midfielder back to England on loan until the of the 2006-07 season.

Arranging the deal turned into a saga that took over a week to complete due to red tape and a clause pertaining to Everton's option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season. The FA, in the wake of the raging Carlos Tevez furore, took exception to the joint ownership of the player between Benfica and a group of investment bankers called Global Sports Agency. The loan was eventually concluded, however, just two days before the January 2007 transfer window slammed shut, making him the second squad addition that month after Anderson Silva.

Fernandes really did add a much-needed spark of flair and vitality to what was at the time Everton's generally moribund brand of football. He was, however, expected to improve the more defensive side of his game and fall in line with the team's general work ethic.

The Everton fans, however, fell in love with "Manny" after some great displays of skill and a stunning goal against Manchester United in April 2007, and the expectation was that the club would make efforts to sign him on a permanent contract that summer.

All the more frustrating, then, as the close dragged into July and pre-season training got underway, that Moyes was still to make his first signing of what was supposed to be a busy period of squad-building ahead of the Uefa Cup campaign and all interest in Fernandes appeared to have been dropped due to the lack of available funds to purchase a player whose rumoured price fluctuated between �8m and 12m depending on which currency the initial reports were based on.

Suddenly, as the faithful started to panic and Moyes apparently signaled in no uncertain terms his own frustrations to the Board, a £25m mortgage, underwritten by new director Robert Earl, freed up the necessary capital to splas �11.25m on Yakubu and a further �6m to bring Fernandes back into the Goodison fold.

It is believed that Benfica weren't that keen to sell him by this point but Everton had triggered his release clause so it was up to the player. When Fernandes learned of Everton's interest, he flew to England right before Benfica's first match of the season (against Copenhagen � he didn�t want to play in Europe to avoid putting a possible transfer in danger) apparently without the consent of his coach.

Personal terms were agreed on a five-year contract at Goodison Park, he had trained with the club for a week and completed a two-part medical while the third-party ownership issues were supposedly resolved with the FA. To circumvent the Premier League's objection to his part ownership by Global Sports Agency, Everton had agreed to pay the whole £12m to Benfica and leave the Iberian club to sort out how much would go to GSA for their half of the player’s rights.

Everything appeared to be in place for an exciting signing and the player attended Everton's home game against Blackburn Rovers as the special guest of Bill Kenwright. Hands were shaken on the deal at a meeting between the Everton chairman and Fernandes' representatives, he signed autographs and shirts for fans... the deal was done and signatures were to be made on the dotted line the following morning.

Quite why the deal wasn't rubber-stamped after the Blackburn game isn't clear — perhaps the Goodison hierarchy were content that the deal was done, or perhaps Fernandes stalled once it became known that rival offer had come in — but concerns were raised when the player didn't show on Sunday morning and wasn't able to be contacted.

As it turns out, Valencia had stepped in on the Saturday with an offer that gazumped Everton's. The perceived truth at the time was that since Spanish football accepts third-party ownership, Valencia had offered between £10m and £12m to Benfica with Global Sports Agency retaining their share. It's conceivable that Benfica had more or less ordered Fernandes to fly to Spain to conclude a more lucrative deal from their point of view.

The reaction of Everton, club and fans, was stunned amazement that he could so quickly turn his back and the club finally made this statement on the Monday:

Everton Football Club feels it should clarify the situation with regards to Manuel Fernandes.

We worked hard all last week on what was a very difficult and complex three-party agreement.

Everton staff worked through the night on Thursday, finally reaching agreement with the English footballing authorities on Friday afternoon.

A similar night's work on Friday left us satisfied that we had both addressed and agreed all issues with the other involved parties.

However, on Saturday we were informed that another club had come in with a rival bid and despite sustained efforts over the remainder of the weekend the player today joined Valencia.

On being unveiled at Valencia, Fernandes claimed to �know nothing� about how the Everton deal collapsed and insisted he was persuaded to move to Spain by fellow Portuguese player Miguel.

�What happened with Everton are things that I know nothing about and what is most important now is that I am here,� said Fernandes.  I did not expect everything to happen to me so quickly, but I am very excited to be here. I talked to Miguel and know that I am joining a good club and a place where I can grow.�

Had Everton only wanted to buy the 50% Benfica owned, something the FA wouldn�t allow? Were Everton still deciding whether to pay the full �12 million when Valencia appeared with the funds all ready to go? Few know for sure and statements from Everton the following January when he returned to Goodison only seemed to muddy the waters.

No sooner had Fernandes arrived at Valencia, than the manager left, and he was left in limbo.  He struggled to get into the team under new coach Ronald Koeman and had started just three games by the time the January transfer window came around.

Koeman, grappling with something of a a crisis of form, made it clear that Fernandes could leave the club, particularly after the 21-year-old was arrested for an alleged theft in a nightclub, and Evertonians slowly became more attuned to the possibility that Manuel could be rejoining the Blues in the January transfer window.

And so it was that strong rumours to that effect were seemingly confirmed by Valencia while Everton remained tight-lipped over the reports that they had held talks with Fernandes's representatives regarding a return to Goodison Park on loan. David Moyes even went as far as to deny all knowledge of the pending agreement, presumably cautious given the events of the previous August.

Fernandes eventually flew back to Merseyside on 9th January and, after completing a medical, concluded the loan deal on Friday the 11th but didn't receive international clearance to play in the home win over Manchester City that Saturday.

Under the terms of the deal, Everton had the option to make the transfer permanent for a reported £12M (some way short of the €60M release clause originally written into his Valencia contract) but may have been looking to negotiate that figure down in the summer.

Apparently the third-party ownership issue has been resolved but that would rest on whether Valencia did indeed purchase 100% of his rights in August. (If they didn't, then a portion of his rights would still be owned by GSA and that would need to be addressed, although Wikipedia suggest the Spaniards paid £17m in all for Fernandes. If true, that would seem to suggest that GSA were paid in full.)

Whatever the details, Manny rejoined the club at an important time, with three players — Yobo, Yakubu, and the increasingly influential midfield dynamo that is Steven Pienaar — all away for 4 to 6 weeks at the Africa Cup of Nations. 

Furthermore, although Fernandes played three times in the Champions League for Valencia, he was eligible to play in the Uefa Cup for Everton under the European footballing body's regulations.

His second debut on loan for the Blues came against Chelsea in the League Cup but, despite playing well, he could not prevent Everton's departure from the competition. He would also play against SK Brann in the Uefa Cup but was injured for both ties in the next round against Fiorentina, when Everton going out on penalties. In the Premier League, Manny helped Everton up to a very creditable 4th place going into he final third of the season.

Moyes seemed in two minds about the player, however, saying this in April 2008: "He’s not done as much as we’d hoped so far. But he might get his opportunity in the coming weeks to see if he can do that. He has everything in his locker to become a top midfielder. I think he's a talented player and I thought bits of him recently have been very good. He came on in the derby last week and actually passed the ball very well."  

But Everton finished the season poorly, with only two wins in the last two months and were very lucky to retain 5th place.

Fernandes showed his value to Everton in the final match of the season Newcastle match showed that, with him setting up two of the three goals.  Excellent set pieces, killer passes, and some great skill, but for Moyes perhaps it was the lack of tracking back that would see no further action taken to secure him on a permanent deal.

Many years later, Manny Fernandes would be a surprise performer for Portugal in the 2018 World Cup,


Everton Career
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
8 (1)
0 (0)
8 (1)
9 (3)
2 (1)
11 (4)
17 (4)
2 (1)
19 (5)

Previous Clubs
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2004-06 Benfica 55 (12) & 10 (0) 3 & 1
2006-07 Portsmouth (on loan) 7 (3) & 2 (0) 0 & 1
2007-08 Valencia    

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