Man Utd submit £51m opening bid for Liverpool target as club set Red Devils new asking price

Joe Williams
Man Utd transfer target Joao Neves
Joao Neves has been linked with a move to Man Utd.

Man Utd have had a €60m (£51m) bid for Benfica midfielder Joao Neves turned down as the Portuguese side set the Red Devils a new asking price, according to reports.

There are likely to be lots of changes at Old Trafford over the summer after Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS completed a deal to buy 27.7 per cent of the Premier League club from the Glazer family.

Ratcliffe has already set out strict rules for Erik ten Hag or a new Man Utd manager to follow with the British billionaire wanting the club to only sign players under the age of 25.

A new midfielder is one of their key targets for the summer transfer window and it looks like Benfica’s Neves is now their top target to improve that position.

Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano confirmed earlier this year that Man Utd were monitoring the 19-year-old as they sent scouts to watch the Portugal international.

Speaking in March, Romano said: “In terms of possible midfield signings coming in for United, the race remains open for Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves, who has been scouted by the Red Devils, and also by Manchester City.

“Benfica will insist on the release clause of €120m [£103m] being triggered, so it’s not an easy deal, but the interest from Premier League clubs is there in terms of scouting. So far, no club has approached Benfica to start a negotiation yet, so it remains absolutely open.”

And now reports in Portugal claim that Man Utd have submitted their opening offer of €60m (£51m) for Neves as they look to get ahead of the competition, which includes arch-rivals Liverpool.

But Benfica director Rui Costa has immediately rejected that first bid with the Portuguese club unwilling to open negotiations ‘for a sum below €100m (£85m)’.

Man Utd are ‘further along’ than Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, PSG and Bayern Munich, who are all reportedly interested in landing the Portugal international.

It is claimed that Costa has now sent a ‘clear’ message to the transfer market that they are pushing for as close to Neves’ €120m release clause as possible.

The report adds: ‘By rejecting the €60m offer, Rui Costa’s message to the market is clear: he will only give up João Neves’ talent in exchange for a 3-digit check worth millions.’

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Speaking last month, Romano also revealed that Man Utd have scouted Neves’ Benfica team-mate Antonio Silva.

Romano said: “I’m also aware of fresh reports on United and Benfica duo Joao Neves and Antonio Silva. Man United have scouted both players for months but we should also remember that both are going to be very expensive.

“So far, there have been no official bids for Neves or Silva yet but it’s going to be really open in the summer. Reports in Portugal say that Silva is more likely to be Benfica’s big sale, rather than Neves, but my understanding is that it’s open and depends on the proposals that come in.”

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