When the summer transfer window begins in June, Wolverhampton Wanderers expect to receive interest in star player Ruben Neves.
Neves is having his greatest season in old gold since moving from Porto five years ago, and interest in him is growing. Wolves can expect a sizable profit on the then-club-record £15.8 million they paid for Neves in 2017.
According to The Athletic, Barcelona is the frontrunner in the hunt to sign Neves, but new rumors say Arsenal will make Neves a priority during the summer transfer window. Manchester United is also rumored to be interested in signing Neves if Dutchman Erik ten Hag is appointed as manager at Old Trafford.
The contract position of Neves
Wolves are in talks with Neves and his agent Jorge Mendes about extending the midfielder’s current contract, which expires in 2024. Wolves are willing to offer Neves significantly enhanced conditions on the contract he signed when the club returned to the Premier League in 2018.
Wolves are expecting a “huge offer.”
Bruno Lage feels Neves is capable of reaching the pinnacle of the game, and the Wolves manager has lavished praise on his midfielder all season. Lage would love to keep the 25-year-old and create his team around him, but he expects competition from European powerhouses.
“I know he’s having a great season,” Lage said. “He’s back to what he used to be, and that’s the type of person we can have with us if we want to build a good squad – a huge player who can take us to the next level.” But this is football, and anything can happen. Because of the way he plays, I can see that other teams are interested in him as well.
“It’s vital to note that finding a player like him is extremely difficult. We used to call it a defensive midfielder, but it’s now referred to as a central midfielder – a player that can both defend and attack. He is capable of doing both. He has the ability to score goals as well as provide assists. It’s quite difficult to come by.
“From my perspective, he is aware of my feelings – I want the best for his career.” If he chooses to stay with us, we will undoubtedly be happier and stronger. But this is football, and anything can happen.
“With the way, he’s playing right now, he’s a major loss for us.” You never know what is going to happen. There may be a major team with a large offer, and we’d have to weigh what’s best for us and the player.”
The cost is £100 million.
Lage believes a player of Neves’ caliber should cost a sum of up to £100 million, making him the most expensive player in Premier League history if he joins Arsenal or Manchester United. Manchester City broke the British transfer record when they paid £100 million for Jack Grealish from Aston Villa last summer.
“What he’s accomplishing this season is fantastic. I believe that the style we play allows him to exhibit a better Ruben and that the way he plays elevates our team to a higher level “Lage stated.
“When you have that player, the best thing you can do is raise his wage and extend his contract.” But who knows, when you have a good player like him in that position, who can defend and attack and is a top professional and a fantastic character, the big teams are there with £100 million to buy these kinds of players.”
The Champions League is amiss for Neves.
If Neves does leave Wolves, it will be for a club in the Champions League. He captained Porto in Europe’s premier club competition when he was just 18 years old and longs to relive those nights beneath the lights.
“I think every player who plays Champions League football and then misses it for a few years would miss it,” Neves admitted last year in an interview with Record.
“Being able to compete in the Champions League and play against all of the clubs is certainly the main goal of every player, and it’s no different for me.
“Fortunately, I was able to compete in the Champions League for three years with FC Porto, and we had a wonderful and remarkable campaign,” he says. “However, I miss going out on the pitch and hearing the tournament’s anthem.”
Replacements have been recognized
Wolves are allegedly monitoring Sporting duo Matheus Nunes and Joao Palhinha and may make a move if Neves departs in the summer. Palhinha has been linked to Wolves on numerous occasions in recent years, but Nunes is a new name in the mix.
Since joining Sporting from fellow Portuguese club Estoril in 2019, the 23-year-old has had a meteoric ascent. Nunes played alongside Wolves defender Toti Gomes at Estoril.
Nunes was a standout for Sporting last season when they won their first Primeira Liga title in 19 years, and he has continued to do so this season. In October, Nunes signed a new deal with Sporting until 2026, including a €60 million (£50 million) release clause.