It is almost a common consensus amongst Wolves fans that Ruben Neves is destined for bigger things but the arrival of Julen Lopetegui as manager could just change that attitude.
The Spanish boss gave Neves his debut as a teenager at Porto, and the midfield maestro has already spoken about the special relationship he has with the former Sevilla and Real Madrid manager.
In 2020, ahead of a game against Sevilla, Neves said: “He’s a great coach and works well. He likes to play good football with a high press. It will be really hard for us but we are ready. They need to be ready for us as well because we’ve shown already that we have a great squad. I think it will be a good game.
“I cannot lie, it’s a very special coach for me. It was the one that put me in at 17 years old. That’s a great thing. It’s not normal in Portugal, coaches giving minutes to academy players.”
Neves will undoubtedly be one of his star performers as he looks to drag the Old Gold out of the relegation places after an awful start to the season which sees them sitting 19th with just ten points to their name.
The 25-year-old midfielder is comfortably ranked as Wolves’ top performer in the Premier League this season according to WhoScored, while his four goals also see him top the goalscoring charts.
Young defender Hugo Bueno sang the £50k-per-week earner’s praises recently after his impressive performances in a woeful Wolves side.
He said: “He always runs the whole pitch and he’s always there. I don’t know how he does it. He is a key player for us. He works very, very hard to win the ball back and also when we have the ball he can control in the game.
“He is an incredible player and hopefully he can give us more things like this in the future.”
Neves hinted at the end of last season that it could be time for him to move on from Wolves but after becoming captain following Conor Coady’s departure, he is arguably producing some of the best football of his career.
Indeed, his average rating from WhoScored is the best he has managed since his debut campaign in the Championship.
If Lopetegui can turn things around and stave off relegation, as there is no hope of keeping Neves if the Old Gold return to the Championship, then perhaps the Portugal international could be persuaded to stay at Molineux, making himself a legend at the club under one of his favourite managers in the process.