Transfer News: Chelsea plotting a move for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves
According to transfer news on Fichajes (h/t The Sun), Chelsea are looking to complete a move for Wolves star Ruben Neves in January. The midfielder recently contributed in earning a draw against the Blues but is now being eyed by them as a mid-season reinforcement.
A product of the Porto youth academy, Neves joined the Portuguese club as an 8-year-old. He moved up the ranks before being drafted into the senior team in 2014. Thereon, he made a massive 93 appearances in three years before Wolves secured a deal for him. He helped the Midlands club win the Championship in his first season as they garnered 99 points in the league. Since being promoted, he has been a vital part of the squad.
Could he head for the exit door in January? And is he the man to revitalize the title charge for Chelsea?
Ruben Neves could solve more problems than one at Chelsea
Since joining in 2017, Neves has made a ridiculous 194 appearances for the Molineux outfit. At the same time, he has also scored 21 goals and provided 11 assists. His long-shots and ability to protect the defence have been admired by several clubs, courtesy of which Manchester United and Arsenal were interested in signing him this summer, as per TalkSPORT (h/t ESPN).
However, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is now lining up a move for him in January. The Blues conquered Europe last season and had their eye on the Premier League title this term. For the first three months, they showed all the qualities of proven winners and backed it up with the results. But the last four weeks have derailed our title chase.
Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante picked up an injury, causing severe problems in the centre of the pitch. They have since returned, but during that time, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho were playing through the pain, causing a stutter in results. Saul Niguez has also failed to step up since his loan move, but he remains in the plans of Tuchel.
Neves is being eyed as a better alternative to the current backups. Only 24, the Portuguese international already has considerable experience of playing in the Premier League. Moreover, Chelsea must be intrigued by his consistency and lack of injuries over the last four years. Even more so since the London club’s star midfielders have been unavailable in key situations in recent seasons, and that has cost them crucial points.
Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour are away on loan moves and cannot be recalled in January as per the agreement in their transfers. Moreover, Jorginho and Kante are 30 are shall turn so next year. The former Porto ace is still relatively young. And could become a mainstay if he proves his worth in the coming years. Additionally, the title race is getting out of hand, and they need to secure victories quickly. Instead of forcing the current stars to return sooner, Neves could take charge until then and deputize to maintain a consistent run of results without compromising on the quality of performances.
Chelsea could afford to sign Ruben Neves in January
There are few players in the world the Blues cannot afford to sign. In the past two years, following the transfer ban in 2019, Chelsea have flexed their financial muscle more than most clubs. Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Ben Chilwell arrived on big-money moves in 2020 before they broke their club-record fee to re-sign Romelu Lukaku this summer.
Neves would apparently command a transfer fee of £38million, which is what Wolves value him at. This seems like a fair value since he has a contract until 2024 and shall only turn 25 next year. The West London club might not mind shelling out this fee, especially since they agreed to a similar option to buy for Saul Niguez. The Spanish international is unlikely to return to Atletico Madrid in January due to salary regulations but could leave in the summer if Chelsea are not convinced by him.
Thus, the money earmarked for him could be used to sign the Wolves star instead. However, one would not be surprised if Saul turns things around in the second half of the season and seals a permanent move in the summer.
It is also important to understand that N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will be out of contract in 2023. The club would naturally be interested in offering them extensions given they are the team’s midfield backbone, but nothing is official yet. If they do leave in two years, the Blues shall need some experience in the centre of the pitch, something Neves could provide as he is likely to be at the peak of his professional career by then.
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Thus, signing the Portuguese international is not just an affordable investment but also a smart one. It will be five years in May 2022 since the Stamford Bridge faithful will have witnessed winning the Premier League– the longest drought in the Roman Abramovich era. Neves could add impetus to the squad and help Chelsea not touch this unwanted record in five months’ time.