Arteta, Edu ‘rejected’ by £45m Premier League midfielder as Arsenal target ‘agrees’ Barca contract

Jason Soutar
Ruben Neves (left) and Mikel Arteta (right)

Wolves captain Ruben Neves has turned down a move to Arsenal after reaching an ‘agreement’ with La Liga champions Barcelona, according to reports.

The Portuguese midfielder stunned Europe when he decided to move to the then-Championship outfit from Porto in 2017.

He was a big fish in a small pond during the lone season he spent with Wolves in the second tier, and he quickly established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League following his side’s promotion in 2018.

Neves has not signed a Wolves contract since that summer and looks set to leave the club when the 2022/23 campaign comes to an end with his current deal expiring in 2024.

Barcelona have been linked with the 26-year-old for quite some time now and Xavi is expected to sign a new No. 6 this summer following Sergio Busquets’ departure.

They are also reportedly interested in Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi and Bayern Munich favourite Joshua Kimmich. Both players, as well as Neves, are also said to be Arsenal targets.

Mikel Arteta will offload several first-team players and is expected to heavily invest in two or three midfielders.

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Barcelona boss Xavi recently talked up Zubimendi, much to the annoyance of the Sociedad hierarchy, and has also praised Kimmich over the past week.

The Blaugrana are strapped for cash and will not be able to sign any of the three midfielders mentioned unless they manage to raise funds through player sales, with Jules Kounde and Raphinha potentially available this summer.

John Percy said earlier this month that Wolves’ asking price for Neves is £45million as he enters the final year of his contract.

This would hardly put a huge dent in Arsenal’s summer budget and can help them pursue other targets like Declan Rice and Mason Mount.

And according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, they have made an offer to sign Neves.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, the offer made by Arteta and director of football Edu Gaspar has been ‘rejected’ by the Portugal international as he is ‘waiting to sign for Barcelona’.

Neves has apparently reached a ‘verbal agreement’ with Barca and The Sun have claimed he will pen a four-year contract if the Catalan giants stump up the cash to meet Wolves’ valuation.

Although Barca are clearly Neves’ priority, it is said that the player will ‘seriously value’ the proposal from Arsenal if a move to the Nou Camp is not possible.

Neves is not Xavi’s first choice in midfield. He prefers Zubimendi and Kimmich, the report states.

Zubimendi has a £52m release clause in his Sociedad contract.

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