Man Utd ‘most interested’ as club feels ‘pressure’ to sell Arsenal-linked wonderkid after contract talks

Jason Soutar
Joao Neves has been linked with Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City
Joao Neves has been linked with Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City

Manchester United are the club ‘most interested’ in signing Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves this summer, according to reports in Portugal.

Neves had a breakout season at Benfica and earned a place in Portugal’s 26-man squad for Euro 2024.

There have been rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League all season and with the Portuguese outfit needing to sell this summer, rumours are accelerating.

Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City are all reportedly interested in signing the 19-year-old midfielder, who played the full 90 minutes as Portugal beat Finland 4-2 in a pre-tournament friendly on Tuesday.

He will cost a pretty penny, with Benfica reluctant to sell for less than his €120million (£102million) release clause.

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Transfermarkt says he is worth €55m (£46.7m) and it has been reported that Man Utd have made a bid worth £51m.

Benfica rejected the offer from the Red Devils and are eager, as we say, to receive a fee worth over €100m.

The Premier League giants are expected to come back in for Neves and reports coming from Portugal state that they are the ‘one of the most interested’ clubs, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich also keen.

It is noted that it is a matter of time before the ‘pressure’ gets to Benfica as they ‘cling to the release clause’ which ‘they know hardly any club will reach’.

‘Two English clubs’ have informed Benfica of their desire to pay £51m for the player and Man Utd and Arsenal are the only two clubs mentioned in the report, hinting that Mikel Arteta’s side have offered the same amount as their Premier League rivals.

In another boost to both clubs, the Portuguese club have failed to agree a new contract with Neves.

The salary put on the table is ‘considerably lower than that of some of the highest paid players in the squad and did not reflect the importance that the midfielder already has in the team’, leaving an extension – and higher release clause – ‘unlikely’.

Agreeing fresh terms ‘is not closed’ but it does not look like negotiations will re-open following Neves’ rejection.

Club President Rui Costa has confirmed that Benfica need to sell players this summer which also softens their stance.

Costa had hoped that the value of centre-back Antonio Silva would soar but that is not the case, meaning they are very unlikely to receive the fee they had ‘initially expected’.

The report adds: ‘This situation could put even more pressure on the Reds with regard to the situation of Joao Neves. And on the other hand, sooner or later, the youngster will also be faced with the opportunity to be able to play in the Premier League, with an incomparably higher salary.’

Man City appear to be lurking in the background. Citizens star and Neves’ Portugal teammate Bernardo Silva has added fuel to the fire this week.

He said: “I told him to come to Manchester City. As Portuguese and because he is someone I appreciate very much, I would like to have him by my side.

“He’s not going to be a very cheap player, I don’t think it’s easy to get into the race for him. May he make the best decision for him, he has a very good future ahead of him.”

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