Having recently been linked with a move to Liverpool by the Portuguese press, the English tabloids today are claiming that Tottenham Hotspur have joined the race to sign Wolves star 21-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves this summer.
Led by the Mirror, who claim Mauricio Pochettino is a long-time admirer of the talented youngster, the suggestion is Spurs see Neves as the ideal replacement for Mousa Dembele, now 30 and with just a year left on his current contract.
Previous claims from the Portuguese press had Liverpool leading the race for Neves and with a deal nearly finalised. There have also been more tenuous links this year between the player and Manchester United and AC Milan.
Whether he does end up at Liverpool or newly-linked Spurs, or if it’s some other big club in one of Europe’s top leagues, a move this summer for Neves seems nearly inevitable despite the player having said he would be happy to remain.
Neves’ £15M move to Wolverhampton caught many by surprise last summer, and not just because it was a Championship club buying one of Europe’s top young stars, a player who had already captained Porto in the Champions League.
It was also surprising because of the price, as Neves had been linked with a number of moves to top flight clubs for more than double that—and it wasn’t as though his stock had fallen such that a cut-rate Wolves move made sense.
When off-the-pitch connections between Wolves and the players’ representatives—who also have close links to Porto—came out, though, it started to make a little more sense of a deal that, well, before then simply hadn’t made much.
Though there has been no confirmation of the deal’s specifics, given Porto’s valuation of Neves that no other club was willing to meet and Neves subsequent bellow-value Wolves move, the deal being a glorified loan seems likely.
If the deal was structured such that Porto receive most or even all of any eventual profit from selling Neves on again, and people at both clubs as well as the agent’s representatives are on board with the plan, the move makes sense.
The only real question now is wither Liverpool—or Spurs or United or Milan—will be willing to pay up, because if any of them are, Neves will most certainly be for sale. A deal this time, though, will not be done below market value.