Manchester United have suffered a potential blow in their pursuit of Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves.
The Red Devils have been strongly linked with a move for the 24-year-old in recent weeks as United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to strengthen his first team squad.
However, Neves has now hinted that he would instead be happy to remain at Molineux next season after expressing his eagerness to work under new boss Bruno Lage.
“He (Lage) is a very good coach. I am really happy to work with him,” he told Wolves TV (as reported by The Mirror).
“I spoke with a few friends when he signed for Wolves – that were players in Benfica and are good friends of mine – and they said a lot of good things about him.
“I can see it now. He’s a very good coach with lots of good ideas. I think that when things are completely together, we’ll be a really hard team to beat.”
After arriving on English shores four years ago, Neves has played a key part in Wolves’ recent success, making 176 appearances for the Midlands outfit. He has helped the club claim the Championship title, record two consecutive seventh-placed finishes in the Premier League, reach the FA Cup semi-finals and the Europa League quarter-finals since his arrival.
Neves has cultivated a reputation for scoring the odd spectacular goal, while also showcasing an impressive array of passing throughout his career, earning praise from several pundits.
“I’m such a fan of Neves and the way he can just control the midfield. He can defend, he can attack, he’s so talented. He can do it at Wolves, but I think he’s going right to the top of the game; it’s effortless for him.”
With Paul Pogba yet to commit his future to United, Solskjaer is thought to be in the market for a new central midfielder this summer. Therefore, news that the £40.5m-rated Neves is looking forward to working under Lage at Wolves rather than clamouring for a move to Manchester will surely leave the Norwegian feeling gutted.
If Pogba departs Old Trafford over the coming months, then the 20-time English champions will need a readymade replacement. With Neves scoring more league goals and winning more tackles and interceptions per game than the Frenchman in 2020/21, he could well have been the ideal candidate, but his desire to remain in the Midlands may well put him out of Solskjaer’s reach.