Reports suggest that Barcelona might sweep up Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves from under the radar of Arsenal and Manchester United. The 25-year-old central midfielder has been touted for a move away from Wolves this season, with both Premier League clubs interested in signing the Portuguese maestro.
Neves was seen getting emotional after Wolves’ final home game of the season against Norwich as he burst into tears while waving to the supporters after completing the lap of honour to thank the fans for their support. He enjoyed a relatively consistent 21/22 season at Wolves, scoring 4 goals and assisting twice (stats via Transfermarkt).
The Wolverhampton talisman has been on United’s radar for some time now while the Gunners also have the 25-year-old very high on their priority list in the upcoming transfer window. However, the recent reports could be a major transfer blow for the Premier League sides.
According to Spanish news outlet SPORT (via Football London), Arsenal and Manchester United target Ruben Neves is edging closer to a summer move to Barcelona. The report states that the Wolves midfielder might choose the Blaugrana over a transfer to another Premier League club.
The Portuguese mainly operates in the central midfield role, expected to prioritise his defensive duties and progress the ball frequently from deeper areas with his accurate long-range passing. The 25-year-old midfielder falls under the same mould or rather, plays the same role as say, Oriol Romeu at Southampton or even Pierre Emile Hojberg at Spurs if you look at his defensive and passing stats (data analyzed on Fbref).
Despite the spirited efforts of Manchester United and Arsenal to sign Ruben Neves, it appears that both the Premier League clubs have to face rejection as FC Barcelona make headway to acquire the Portuguese’s signature. According to Barcelona-based media outlet, Diario Sport (via ESPN), Ruben Neves is one of the three most realistic midfield targets for the Catalan side,besides AS Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni and Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi.
Barcelona are reportedly still pushing to sign Ruben Neves. It's said that due to Mendes' good relations with Wolves and Barça, a deal could be done.
— Talking Wolves (@TalkingWolves) May 15, 2022
Barcelona manager Xavi acknowledged the need to strengthen the midfield after clinching a draw against Getafe recently. According to the Diario report, the Barcelona deal is an exciting prospect for Tchouameni but the deal for the Frenchman is taking time because Monaco are holding out for more attractive offers from the likes of Real Madrid and some Premier League clubs. On the other hand, Sociedad wants the Blaugrana to trigger Zubimendi’s €60 million release clause which could become an issue for Xavi.
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Under these contexts, Neves becomes the most realistic target for the Catalan giants. The report also suggests that Barca wouldn’t mind swapping players such as Ez Abde, Nico Gonzalez, Riqui Puig, Alejandro Balde, or Oscar Mingueza to lower the transfer fee for the Wolves number 8.
To free up some financial barriers, Barcelona might push to sell Frenkie de Jong for the highest fee possible with several suitors in line including Manchester United. But the departure of the former Ajax man will deprive Xavi of midfield solidarity which is exactly why Laporta and co are pushing for these three midfielders.
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