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Ruben Neves enjoying meteoric rise at Wolves

Wolves’s rise towards the Premier League elite has been rather impressive.

Just three years ago, they found themselves towards the bottom of the Championship having finished 15th in the 2016/17 season.

Now, though, they are fifth in the Premier League and are through to the last 16 of the Europa League – they drew 1-1 in the first leg against Olympiakos before football was suspended.

Jorge Mendes has had a lot to do with that – his partnership with the Midlands outfit, helping to bring in Portuguese players like Ruben Neves, has been essential to their improvement.

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The former Porto man encapsulates how things have changed at Molineux.

He cost them £15.8m, but was valued at just £9m as per Transfermarkt at the time of signing – that number now stands at £45m, putting him amongst the top 10 defensive midfielders on the planet.

Of all the Premier League holding midfielders, only Rodri, Fabinho, Jorginho and Declan Rice boast a higher market value.

Here are three reasons behind that exponential increase…

UEFA Nations League victory

The 23-year-old was just too young to make it into Portugal’s Euro 2016-winning squad, but he was to play an important role in their next international triumph.

He played in all but one of his country’s matches as they lifted the UEFA Nations League in 2019, with them beating the Netherlands in the final.

Neves only came on from the bench in that final match, but he played the full 90 minutes in the 3-1 victory against Switzerland in the semi-final – he has been included in every one of Fernando Santos’ squads since.

First season in the Premier League, 2018/19

Neves was a fulcrum of the side that was promoted to the top flight during the 2017/18 season, scoring six times in 42 matches, but considering he was already the youngest Champions League captain in history at that point, it was hardly surprising to see him perform in the second tier.

The top flight was to be the true test of his ability.

He settled in fantastically amongst the elite, though. He started 34 out of a possible 38 matches as Wolves finished in seventh place in the league, whilst he also played in five FA Cup matches as they reached the semi-finals. With 2.1 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per match in the top tier, he was a player Nuno Espirito Santo couldn’t do without.

Real Madrid interest

It was only a matter of time before one of Europe’s biggest clubs registered an interest in the up-and-coming star, and they don’t come much bigger than Real Madrid.

According to El Desmarque, Los Merengues were interested in making a move for him in January.

Will Neves be at Wolves next season?

Yes

Yes

No

No

That failed to materialise in the end, but don’t be surprised to see a number of other top sides pursue the midfielder when the market reopens for business.

Article title: Ruben Neves enjoying meteoric rise at Wolves

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