But City could have an ace up their sleeve in the pursuit of the Portugal midfielder as they look to build links with Sporting .
That is according to latest reports from Ferndandes’ homeland Portugal, where it is claimed City have held talks in a bid to beat their rivals to the £50m-plus midfielder’s signature.
Treble-winners City were reportedly holding talks with Sporting president Frederico Varandas about building a partnership between the two clubs to sign talented youngsters from around the globe.
But they used the opportunity to press their case to sign Fernandes, according to Portuguese media outlet Correio da Manhã, via Sport Witness .
Correio da Manhã reports that City have already had a bid of €45million (£40m) for Fernandes rejected, with Sporting holding out for €70million (£63m).
The Portuguese outlet claims United are still ahead in the race as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to build a squad capable of getting back into the Premier League’s top four.
However, City hope that building a relationship with Sporting will help them get one over on their rivals.
Correio da Manhã says Varandas is now set to speak to the player in Switzerland, where Sporting are in pre-season training.
City were also discussing a deal for Sporting’s 18-year-old winger Felix Correia – tipped as being in the mould of former United stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani – according to the Manchester Evening News .
City are expected to complete the signing of the young winger, but a fee is yet to be agreed.
Sporting are holding out for £6.2 million for Correia, who is still to make his first-team debut.
City are adamant meanwhile that the price will be closer to half of that amount.
United are still hopeful of landing Sporting’s current talisman Fernandes, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keen to make him one of three further additions to his squad before the transfer window shuts.
The Red Devils have already landed deals for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James this summer.
Solskjaer reportedly wants to add another defender, a central midfielder and a forward before the end of the window.