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Benfica boss provides Alvaro Fernandez clarification after Man United loanee benched



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Manchester United left-back Alvaro Fernandez started his first game for Benfica since signing on loan in the January transfer window.

Fernandez, 20, had his loan spell at Spanish club Granada cut short so that he could make the move to the Portuguese league leaders.

Benfica have the option to buy the 20-year-old for £5.1 million – but that will become an obligation to permanently buy the defender if he starts at least 50 per cent of the available games. There are also £2.5 million in add-ons.

United also inserted a buy-back clause in the deal as well as a sell-on fee if Fernandez is sold to another club after spending time in Portugal.

However, the defender had not started a game for Benfica until Thursday evening. He has been an unused substitute twice and was brought into the fold against Estoril and Gil Vicente

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt clarified the Manchester United’s loanee’s initial role and explained how he could break into the lineup in the back end of the season.

He told A Bola: “Alvaro is doing well in training. He has already played a few minutes, but in the future, he could also play as a starter.

“He is working well, he is a player capable of quickly understanding tactical behaviours, he adapts quickly and I am looking forward to seeing him on the field.”

Fernandez was gifted a start during a 2-1 win over Vizela and was substituted shortly after the 70th minute.

He did not make a competitive appearance for United. He played on the latest pre-season tour before his initial loan to Spain.

The defender won the Under-21s Player of the Season in the 2021/22 campaign.