Prior to the January transfer market opening, Ruben Neves has been linked to a move to Arsenal. The 26-year-old Portuguese international, who is undoubtedly still in his prime, was among the more unexpected players to move to Saudi Arabia during the summer transfer window.
He’s already being linked to a return to the Premier League, less than six months later. Neves has participated in 12 of the 13 Saudi Pro League games so far, with his team Al Hilal presently leading the standings.
Although he hasn’t scored or assisted in any of the games, he is surrounded by a number of well-known players, like Malcom, Yassine Bounou, Kalidou Koulibaly, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Malcom. There were rumors that Newcastle United, controlled by Suadi, may try to recruit him during the winter transfer window, but this month’s vote will decide whether or not teams can sign players who are part of the same consortium as the interested party.
Naturally, if successful, this would increase the likelihood that a team like Arsenal could close a transaction. Is he still worth it, though, considering that he left the highest division of English football to play in a developing league?
Well, to put it briefly, yeah. Up until his departure this summer, Ruben Neves was among the Premier League’s most remarkable and reliable central midfielders. At the age of eighteen years and two21 days, he became the youngest captain in Champions League history when he won the armband for Porto. He then went on to earn the armband at Wolves.
Despite Declan Rice’s arrival, the Gunners have been affected by the summertime loss of Granit Xhaka. Neves would undoubtedly bring back some of the tough leadership that the Swiss international’s return to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen had taken away.
Given the unavailability of Thomas Partey and the lack of certainty that the most recent treatment will put a stop to his frequent absences, Neves would be a defensively-minded midfield addition with the ability to score from distance. Neves, in contrast to his former Premier League colleague Xhaka, is more of a defensive midfielder.
Neves is rated by FBRef in the 83rd percentile for interceptions, 96th for blocks, and 98th for clearances in 1,759 minutes played over the past year. Being a progressive passer and, as previously noted, unafraid to take shots, he may potentially give some balance to an Arsenal midfield that, with Kai Havertz added, is very much an uneven trio owing to injury.
The German’s tenure at Arsenal has not been smooth sailing. Without Partey, Neves would undoubtedly partner Rice in the middle, freeing Havertz up to take on more offensive duties within the team.
The best talent is frequently availability, and in Neves’ six years with Wolves, he only missed five games due to injury for both club and country. He gives Mikel Arteta’s squad more talent, depth, and variety, thus it would make sense to see him wearing an Arsenal shirt come January 1.