Portugal international Jose Fonte is “not surprised” about reports linking Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves with a move to Premier League rivals Arsenal, speaking to talkSPORT (8 June, 11.45am).
With Granit Xhaka closing in on a move that would see him ply his trade under Jose Mourinho at Roma – a combustible cocktail if ever there was one – the Gunners are in the market for a player capable of taking the Swiss man’s place in Mikel Arteta’s engine room.
And, despite spending the past few months flirting with Brighton livewire Yves Bissouma, it seems the London giants are now prioritising another top-flight pass-master.
Four years after he swapped the Champions League for the Championship, becoming the first marquee signing of the Fosun era at Wolves, Ruben Neves wants a fresh start away from Molineux (the Daily Mail).
Arsenal interested in Wolves star Neves
The Telegraph reports Wolves are demanding £40 million for Neves.
But with Arsenal expected to bring in about £15 million for Xhaka while potentially raising more funds via the sale of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Hector Bellerin and co, Neves’ hefty price tag is unlikely to deter a club under pressure to make big-name signings after their worst season in almost 30 years.
“Ruben is a great young player,” says fellow Portugal international Fonte, who has just captained Lille to the Ligue 1 title.
“We cannot forget he’s still young but he’s done very well since he came to England. I can say I’m not surprised because he has the quality.
“His passing range is second to none. He can score goals from outside the box, he’s very clever – so I’m not surprised about the interest in him.”
Neves not at his best last season
While undoubtedly one of the best distributors of the ball in English football, there remains a nagging feeling Neves has failed to kick on as expected following his impressive debut season in the Premier League.
Of course, the 24-year-old wasn’t the only Wolves player who fell well short of lofty standards in 2020/21. Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Rui Patricio and Adama Traore were guilty of that too. However, Neves would be under pressure to find form and fast if that £40 million move to Arsenal did happen.
Many Wolves supporters were happy to stand firm behind a player who had helped drag the club from the Championship to the Europa League quarter-finals.
An expectant Arsenal fanbase might not be quite so forgiving.