Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, held discussions with Sporting president Frederico Varandas on Friday at the club’s Mayfair offices in London.
They could not reach an agreement for the Portugal international, for whom Sporting want £50million, with add-ons taking that number to £65million.
United elected to step up negotiations after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mike Phelan travelled to Portugal last week for final checks on the 25 year-old, in Sporting’s 2-1 loss to Porto.
Solskjaer is desperate to add more attacking thrust from midfield this month, as United push to secure a Champions League spot.
That has been a key reason for the club’s push to land a player with whom they have long been linked – as well as the respective situations of other alternatives.
United were also among the clubs monitoring Kai Havertz during the first half of the campaign, with scouts having visited Bayer Leverkusen on a number of occasions as they kept tabs on the Germany international.
However, there was no chance of a move for the 20 year-old taking place this month for a number of reasons.
Havertz shone at the BayArena in 2018-19, but has found the current campaign more difficult. Having scored 17 times in 34 Bundesliga games for Die Werkself last year, he has managed just two goals in 14 games this term and is also down on a number of key performance metrics.
Leverkusen have insisted that a player whom they value at over £90million, and who remains a major target for Bayern Munich, is not available until the summer, especially as they sit sixth in the Bundesliga table, in contention for a Champions League spot.
Then there is the issue of Euro 2020, where Havertz hopes to be a key player for Germany. A January switch to a new league and new surroundings could well have harmed his chances of a spot in Jogi Low’s squad.
Two other players both unwilling to commit to moves this month are Leicester midfielder James Maddison and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. Both have been linked with United in recent weeks, and a source told Mirror Sport that Solskjaer himself was particularly keen on the English pair.
However, Leicester, having sold Harry Maguire to Old Trafford in the summer, have no interest in parting with Maddison this month and have opened talks over a new contract for the 23 year-old.
Despite Aston Villa’s struggles, Grealish has impressed on their Premier League return. Boss Dean Smith has admitted that he expects his No.10 “is a target for big teams.”
But Grealish won’t push to leave his boyhood club mid-season, preferring to lead a survival push before re-evaluating his situation in the summer.
If Villa are relegated, they won’t stand in his way of a move, and he won’t be short of offers. United and others will continue to monitor his situation.
Donny van de Beek, the Ajax midfielder, is another name that has been mooted. However, he again stated last weekend he won’t leave Amsterdam until the summer at least, while sources close to Van de Beek have told Mirror Sport that a summer move to Real Madrid is “80 percent certain”.
Solskjaer was remaining coy on transfers on Tuesday, as he faced the media ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay against Wolves .
Asked about a potential arrival for Fernande, he said: “I’ve got no transfer updates. If we get something we can tell you about we will, but we’ve got no news now.”