We are reportedly interested in signing Porto’s teen sensation Ruben Neves, with Arsene Wenger sending scouts to watch the 18-year-old for the third time ahead of the January transfer window, according to the Metro.
The report suggests we’re plotting a £22m bid, with Wenger desperate to lure the Portuguese star to the Emirates in January.
Our scouts were present at Porto’s last game, where Neves put in a Man of the Match performance against Pacos Ferreira during their 2-1 win. It was an excellent advert for the youngster, and will only have strengthened the manager’s resolve.
Francis Coquelin is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and we are badly in need of a replacement during his absence – and a deputy for when he returns. Neves is slightly more attack-minded than Coquelin, but is still more than capable of doing a job in the defensive midfield role.
He’s technically gifted, an excellent tackler, superb at reading the game for his age, and appears to have a very mature head on his shoulders. He’s more of a deep lying playmaker than a defensive midfielder, but that may appeal to Wenger. The manager wants his players to be comfortable with the ball at their feet, and if our anchorman can start attack from deep then all the better. We’ve thrived with Santi Cazorla and Coquelin in midfield, but Neves could potentially fill the role of both players eventually.
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He isn’t likely to get a massive amount of goals, and doesn’t offer the same marauding, between the lines runs that Aaron Ramsey does. But he could be the perfect solution to our midfield woes, dictating play from deep, spreading the play out wide with pinpoint passes, and contributing with more than his fair share of defensive work.
I’d be tempted to see him as more of a replacement for (and arguably even an eventual improvement on) Santi Cazorla rather than Francis Coquelin, but whether Wenger feels the same remains to be seen.