Ruben Neves was sublime in Wolves’ Championship-winning campaign. His signing was a huge coup for a club of that level, moving from an established Champions League side where he was captain, to joining a team whose quality didn’t even come close to those he was leaving behind.
However, his move has been warranted, helping to lead the club into the top half of the Premier League and to an FA Cup semi-final.
But, with Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker arguably outperforming the Portuguese sensation in recent months, is Nuno Santo getting the best out of him?
Neves has still had an impressive season but his numbers in 2018/19 would suggest he and the club could benefit from a slight change of position.
Ruben Neves (Wolves 2018/19 – Premier League)
2.2 tackles PG*
2.2 shots PG
0.8 key passes PG
80.6% pass success
(Stats courtesy of WhoScored. *= Per game)
Given Neves came to the club as a more defensive midfielder, he’s been outshone in that capacity by both Dendoncker and Moutinho this season. Although his reading of the game is superb, the amount of tackles he makes per game is less than both of his midfield partners.
Surprisingly, his pass success percentage is also lower than Dendoncker’s. Considering how accomplished he is with the ball at his feet it may be a slight concern that he’s continuing to be outperformed in that area too.
Wolves can solve that issue by moving him further forward. The 22-year-old has a keen eye for goal and this is something Nuno should look to exploit more in the future.
The Midlands club tried operating with him as a number ten against Watford but their compact midfield were able to mark him out of the game.
Wolves Fan TV place the blame for Wolves’ FA Cup semi-final collapse on John Ruddy in the video below…
However, the fact he boasts the second-most shots-per-game out of anyone at the club demonstrates the impact he can have in the final third, and shows why Wolves could find themselves scoring a lot more if they were to move him closer to Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota in attack.
Wolves don’t have too much left to play for this season so it’s definitely worth seeing what he can do in an advanced role.