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Man City prepare to enter race with Man Utd to sign Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves

Nemanja Matic urges Joao Neves to remain at Benfica amid Man Utd speculation

Manchester United could face stiff competition from arch-rivals Manchester City in the race to sign Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves this summer, according to O Jogo (page 14).

The Red Devils are exploring a deal for the highly-rated midfielder. The club’s hierarchy recently made a second offer worth £59 million for the 19-year-old sensation.

The proposal has not tested the resolve of Benfica and it has been reported that it could take at least £85m to persuade them to part ways with their prized asset.

Amidst this, O Jogo bring a fresh twist to the story by claiming that City are preparing to join the race by force as they seek a potential replacement for Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne has apparently agreed terms with Saudi Pro League giants Al-Ittihad and it is reported that negotiations are due to be held between the clubs over the price.

While Neves is a completely different profile compared to De Bruyne, manager Pep Guardiola is an admirer. City are prepared to compete with United for his services.

United can’t afford to miss out on Neves to City

The Red Devils are eager to recruit a marquee defensive midfielder. They were initially linked with Manuel Ugarte of Paris Saint-Germain, but Neves appears the prime target.

The club had an initial bid of £51m turned down by Benfica. They made an improved proposal of £59m this week which was not sufficient to persuade the Portuguese giants.

In our view, United need to make a fresh bid for the wonderkid as soon as possible, particularly with the Cityzens joining the pursuit of Neves, who can operate in multiple midfield roles.

Neves is primarily a holding midfielder by trade, but he can play centrally or from the right hand side. Guardiola probably sees him accompanying Rodri in the centre of the park.

Neves, who has been described as a ‘born leader‘ by Benfica president Rui Costa, has the traits to become world-class in the long run and United can’t afford to lose him to their rivals.

The youngster is one of the best young midfielders in world football. He had a passing accuracy of 90 percent last term with an impressive six duels and two tackles won per game.

The Portuguese also registered 6.4 ball recoveries on average, completing 62 percent of his take-ons. At just 19, Neves has shown a lot of maturity and would be an upgrade on Casemiro.

United obviously need to recoup funds from player sales for a big spending spree this summer, but they need to be pro-active in the pursuit of Neves to prevent City hijacking the deal.

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