All eyes have been on Ruben Neves this season courtesy of his tremendous performances for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Now, however, with the title wrapped up, the attention will turn towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as Neves attempts to stake his claim for a place on the plane.
It's hardly going to be easy for the 21-year-old given the nature of the talent in the Portuguese squad, but if the reigning European champions were ever going to take a big chance on him, it could be this summer.
Left At Home
This is an entirely possible outcome, and it's one that Wolves fans need to recognise. While Neves has been performing exceptionally well over the course of the season, the step up to international football is an entirely different ball game. One of the negatives that could prove to be a problem for Neves would be that he's been playing in the second tier of English football, whereas many other squad players have been playing in the top tier of leagues around the globe.
Simply being selected to make the trip would be a huge moment in the career of Ruben Neves, especially given that he's still young enough to realistically compete in at least four or five more major tournaments after Russia. However, if he does make the squad, there's no guarantee of him starting, and he could wind up only making one or two appearances off the bench. In a weird way that could actually play to his strengths, as he could showcase what he can do in an 'impact sub' manner against some of the lesser teams in their group.
A Star Is Born
We saw it with Thomas Muller in 2010, we saw it with James Rodriguez in 2014, and now, we could be on the verge of seeing Ruben Neves announce himself to the world on football's biggest stage. Neves has the confidence, the skill and the composure necessary to compete at a much higher level than he's currently at, and the World Cup could prove to be the perfect stage for him. With games against Spain, Iran and Morocco on the horizon, Neves' quality could be exactly what Portugal need.
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