David Neres to Liverpool: What have the experts said about the Ajax star?

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Expert Roundup feature, which provides three quotes from those in the know in order to illuminate fundamental strengths, weaknesses, quirks, stylistic comparisons and general observations of players, transfer targets and confirmed signings.

According to a report published by Italian media outlet Calciomercato last month Liverpool have stepped up an interest in Ajax’s widely-coveted winger, David Neres, with a possible big-money summer move in the offering.

The 22-year-old Brazilian made headlines across the continent last season with a series of stand-out performances that helped take de Godenzonen to a Champions League semi-final while his pace and trickery helped his club to clinch a domestic double.

Should Neres light up the Premier League next season he will surely entertain and fascinate too with a direct style of player, so perhaps it’s high time we found out more about a player so recently chased by Manchester United and Everton. They were never going to catch him. He’s too quick.

Here’s what those in the know have had to say about him…

Erik ten Hag, Ajax coach

In 2017/18 an eye-catching 14 goals and 13 assists in his first full Eredivisie campaign immediately had many sitting up and taking notice but it was his consistent tormenting of full-backs in the following campaign that really confirmed that here was an elite talent deserving of closer inspection.

Speaking at the tail-end of a successful twelve months for player, manager and club, Ten Hag assessed his budding superstar, concentrating on his versatility. As per Goal.com:

“He already took steps forward last year. He was Ajax’s top scorer with 14 goals, but this season he has developed further. Not only in his favourite position on the right, but also on the left and as No.10. He may have played his best matches on the left, against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, where he was actually untouchable.”

Lucas Fernandes, former team-mate

As already alluded to, however, Neres’ self-assertiveness is not confined solely to the pitch. When Ten Hag complained about the winger’s hair his response was hardly respectful – “I told him to take care of his own hair and I’ll take care of mine” – while in interviews he is anything but boring.

Yet one of his best friends within football, the Brazilian under 23 international Fernandes, insists that perception is skewed. As per Bleacher Report:

“He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. It’s a shame most people don’t get to see this side of him. He’s a bit reserved, quieter, a man of few words when he’s around strangers. But he is the sort of person who values friendship and you can always count on.

“How can you say anything negative of a kid who used to sleep with a teddy bear on his bed? It’s impossible.”

Steve Nicol, ESPN pundit

Should Liverpool take the plunge it will reportedly be at the second time of asking because it was not only Everton and United who were keen last summer but the Reds too. At the time though former Anfield hero turned pundit Nicol was sceptical after putting himself in Neres’ boots. As per ESPN (via Daily Express):

“If I’m Neres, I’m looking at Liverpool’s front three and I’m asking myself ‘Am I going to this team to start? Or am I going to this team as back up to begin with?’

“He’s certainly at a level of his ability and what he’s producing that he has to go somewhere and play. I think that rules Liverpool out.”

Verdict

While Nicol has understandable misgivings from the player’s perspective for Liverpool, this is a no-brainer with Neres capable of wrecking havoc anywhere across the front three.