Manchester United can land long-term target Ruben Neves for £35 million this summer as Wolves aim to raise funds by releasing their key man for a cut-price sum.
Despite the fact that outgoing manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s replacement has not yet been appointed, The Athletic reports that the club is set to rebuild and that they will need to ‘sell big to buy big.’
‘To that end, sources have told The Athletic there is an expectation that Ruben Neves will depart for a figure in the region of £35 million,’ reporters Tim Spiers and Gregg Evans claim.
This is a much reduced figure from the £60 million Wolves reportedly quoted United three years ago and represents superb value for money for a 24-year-old.
A holding midfielder is one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s highest priorities this summer. Despite signing a new three-year deal last summer, Nemanja Matic is not normally favoured by the manager and is himself rumoured to be heading to Roma for another reunion with old boss José Mourinho.
Neither Scott McTominay nor Fred are natural defensive midfielders and have played most of the season as a double pivot, limiting Solskjaer’s options further up the pitch and generally condemning United to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
A natural number six such as Neves would solve this problem.
United have been constantly linked with West Ham’s Declan Rice of late, but the Hammers are likely to play hardball over a player they desperately want to keep as they embark on their first Europa League campaign for five years next season.
Jesse Lingard, who has enjoyed a successful loan spell in London, could be used as a makeweight in that deal but David Gold and company would still expect a substantial cash value on top.
The Express believes that United could also be willing to offer Lingard in part-exchange for Neves, but whether the player would fit in with the new manager’s philosophy and feel at home in a dressing room with more Portuguese players in it than that of Benfica remains to be seen.
Rice is seen by most as a more pure defensive option than Neves, but the Portuguese’s ability to join the attack could be seen as an advantage. He has scored 20 goals for Wolves as opposed to Rice’s five for West Ham.
And whilst the England man is two years his junior, the simple fact is that West Ham will be looking for at least double the amount for their man that Wolves have set for theirs, making the choice something of a no-brainer for Manchester United.