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Sports News of Friday, 15 May 2015

Source: Tribal Football

Why Man Utd, Juventus and Valencia are chasing Bernard Mensah

It’s only this season that Rui Vitoria, the Vitoria Guimaraes coach, has introduced Mensah to first team football. Yet, in a matter of just weeks, he was the subject of a formal offer from Valencia.

Los Che tabled a €2 million bid for Mensah in December, after scouts had seen the attacking midfielder score on his Vitoria debut and then hit a brace the following game.

Valencia’s offer was immediately rejected by Vitoria president Julio Mendes, who rates Mensah closer to €7 million. But Mendes knows Mensah’s situation will again intensify leading up to the summer transfer window.

Juventus, though yet to make contact with Mendes directly, have registered their interest with Mensah’s representatives. Manchester United, meanwhile, had scouts posted to see Vitoria against Estoril, with Mensah their prime focus.

The youngster was the outstanding performer on the day, creating Vitoria’s winner with a typically inventive piece of play.

Further fueling expectations of a summer move was last week’s news that Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes had taken a 30 per cent stake in Mensah’s registration. With close ties between Mendes’ Gestifute company and all three major clubs mentioned, it’s no stretch to suggest Vitoria face losing their young star in the coming months.

Julio Mendes, while frustrated, will also recognise it’s an instant €7 million – if not more – raised from the sale of a player who fell into their hands almost three years ago.

It wasn’t Vitoria which brought Mensah to Portugal, but SC Braga. Identified as the outstanding member of Feyenoord Ghana’s academy in Accra, Mensah was initially brought to Europe by Braga. A deal was agreed, but difficulties with red-tape saw his registration fall through and Mensah, at 16, found himself in a foreign land and without a club.

Cue the intervention of agent Jorge Pires and his newly formed Sponsor Dream company. Pires created the management firm to help promising young players and coaches find clubs – and Mensah was the perfect test case.

Pires was able to place him at Vitoria, where within a year he’d jumped from the youth team to becoming a first-choice for Vitoria B, scoring nine goals from midfield to help them win promotion to the Segunda Liga.

It was the sort of form that Julio Mendes and senior coach Rui Vitoria could not ignore.

Mendes, before the start of the season, had Mensah sign a new contract to 2018 ahead of Rui Vitoria promoting him to his first team.

Fast-forward to today and Mensah is now being courted by three – at the least – of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Asked about the presence of United scouts last week, Mendes conceded: “There are clubs of great renown at European level that are evaluating our players.

“But their interest has not yet been formalised.

“We do, however, need to realise that such transfers are in the control of these interested clubs.”

Sitting in fifth place on the Liga table, in no small way thanks to the contribution of Mensah, Mendes admits the position is “a great source of pride”.

But he also warns Vitoria fans that with Europe’s giants circling, the reality is they remain a stepping stone for Mensah to bigger things.

“Our method is public, we will continue to gamble with some risk to play these young players and allow our investment to give us a sporting and financial return.

“For a club of our means, it is crucial we have a high percentage of success in our choices.”

A Europa League place and potential multi-million euro sale? Certainly, the bet Mendes and Rui Vitoria made on Mensah back in September promises to deliver a quick and healthy profit.