Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly made Ruben Neves a top priority, instructing the board to ensure the Red Devils land the Portugal star ahead of rivals Arsenal.
United, Arsenal and Newcastle are all believed to be interested in the former Porto man, who would set them back somewhere in the region of £50m – a record sale for Wolves if it goes through.
The interested parties may have been buoyed by Neves’ comments after Wolves’ final game of the season against Liverpool, when he hinted his future might lie away from Molineux.
Ten Hag has been linked with a number of midfield recruits as he prepares for his first season at Old Trafford.
Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona has also been strongly linked, as has Borussia Monchengladbach’s Manu Kone, but Neves has the benefit of Premier League experience.
“Our careers are really short, we need to take the opportunities we have,” the 25-year-old said after Wolves’ final game. “Of course, all of us have dreams and we need to live those dreams in a short space of time.
“Let’s see what happens. I cannot say too much about it.”
Now, The Sun reports that United are ready for a “final push” for Neves, with Ten Hag’s blessing, as Bruno Lage’s side target Joao Palhinha of Sporting CP as a potential replacement. The report claims Neves is Ten Hag’s number one target, albeit not the only option.
Neves joined Wolves for what was then a club record fee of £15.8m back in 2017, when the club was still in the second tier.
He has played more than 200 times for the club since joining from Porto, scoring 24 goals, and was part of Portugal’s squad at Euro 2020. Potential replacement Palhinha was also a member of Fernando Santos’ squad, having made his international debut just months before the tournament.
United will need reinforcements in midfield with long-serving first-teamers Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic set to leave.
Pogba is out of contract this summer, with a return to Juventus mooted, while Matic confirmed in April that the 2021-22 season would be his last at Old Trafford.
“After a great deal of thought, I have decided that this season will be my last with Manchester United,” the Serbian said at the time. “I have informed the board, the manager and the players of my decision.
“It has been a huge honour and a privilege to play for this great club. A big thank you to the fans for their unwavering support. I will now give everything until the end of the season to help my teammates finish as strongly as possible.”