Ruben Neves has had a fascinating career so far. His next step will determine whether he will become one of the best in Europe or not realize his potential.

In 2015, Neves became the youngest ever Champions League captain. At the age of only 18, he led Porto to a victory over Maccabi Haifa, breaking a 12-year individual record that still stands today.

This was a sign of how highly Porto valued him, and it was certainly an odd move that signed him with Wölfen in July 2017.

The move reflected the power of the agents, with Jorge Mendes teaming up with Wolves owners Fosun International. It worked. Neves accepted the surprise move and immediately led the Wolves into the Premier League.

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Neves’ first season in the top division helped Wolves secure a spot in the Europa League and helped inflict some pain on Manchester United at the end of the 2018/19 season.

The 2019/20 season was an almighty challenge. Neves played 54 games for the club in all competitions as Wolves secured a top 7 finish while also reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Last season everything caught up with the wolves. Their upward trend could not be sustained, and there were several reasons for this. The first was burnout from the previous campaign. Their relatively small squad was stretched and didn’t get a summer break, much like United. Star attacker Diogo Jota was sold, indicating for the first time that the Wolves were ready to disband the team they had previously led.

Then disaster struck when Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull, leaving the team without a proven goalscorer. Coach Nuno Santo and the club parted ways at the end of the season to usher in a new era in the club.

Part of this new era involves Neves moving on to raising funds and allowing him to face a new challenge. The Athletic report will consider letting him go for just £ 35 million. Talksport said this week that Manchester United are very interested. A report from 90min last month even suggested that Bruno Fernandes gave the club a shining reference.

Neve’s next move can bring him back to the top

Neves needs to regain the potential he undoubtedly had as a teenager. If he stayed with Wolves, he would stagnate. A rumored move to Arsenal wouldn’t get him back where he should be, they are no longer a top club.

Moving to Manchester United is exactly what Neves needs. He would get a new challenge, the chance to finally play Champions League football again for the first time since his youth, and he would also increase his international ambitions by working with Bruno Fernandes.

But is Neves what Manchester United needs? United need a defensive midfielder and there are several ways to do that. Neves ticks a lot of boxes.

He has experience in the Premier League and in Europe and, unlike Declan Rice or Wilfred Ndidi, is available at an extremely reasonable price.

Even in a year in which his team took a step backwards in 2020/21, Neves’ performances held up well. He managed to score five goals from midfield in the Premier League, two more in context than Paul Pogba, who himself has an unclear future.

(Photo by Peter Powell – Pool / Getty Images)

Neves won the fifth highest number of tackles in the Premier League last season, and his total number of tackles and interceptions (136) was the highest for the Wolves team. It was also higher than any Manchester United player except Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Where Neves also shines is his passing range. Like Michael Carrick, he has the ability to create from the depths. The chance to train under the former United midfielder could really help him.

Last season, Neves completed 406 long passes in the Premier League. That would make him number one in the Manchester United squad. For comparison: Fred made 250, Paul Pogba 167 and Scott McTominay 155.

Neves had 62 shot creation actions in 2020/21. This would put him in sixth place on United’s squad, and this played for a more limited and defensive Wolves team.

It is clear that Neves is a good player, and what he does next in his career will determine whether he can become an excellent or even “great” player with an impressive performance at the Champions League level.

Ruben Neves from Portugal seen in action during practice (Photo by Hugo Amaral / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

For a £ 35m fee, he’s well worth United taking a risk. With his combination of passing and tackling, he adds something different to midfield and has the potential to become a better player with more dangerous players around him.

United is unlikely to spend £ 70-80million on a midfielder after spending that much on Jadon Sancho and hopefully Raphael Varane. £ 35 million for Neves is a very smart investment.

United would buy low. In previous years he was linked to United for a fee of £ 60million. The drop in valuation does not reflect a drop in performance. After a season at Old Trafford, his rating could quickly climb back to that number or even higher.

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