Manchester United are building a close relationship with Portuguese champions Benfica ahead of a summer approach for Joao Neves, according to Correio da Manha (page 10).
The 19-year-old is currently one of the most sought-after young midfielders and the Red Devils are prioritising a deal for him during this summer’s transfer window.
They are already laying the early groundwork with Benfica, having agreed to loan out Alvaro Fernandez this month. The Primeira Liga outfit will have an option to buy him.
Correio da Manha highlight the recent negotiations between Benfica and United over the transfer of Fernandez have helped to bring the ‘parties closer’ this month.
Despite this, Benfica are firm on their transfer demands for Neves and will continue to hold out for his €120 million release clause at the end of the current campaign.
The Portuguese champions have today announced that they have not handed the Red Devils or any other club with the right of preference over their young midfielder.
United need to pursue a more experienced midfielder
Neves has been a revelation for the reigning Primeira Liga champions. He has a passing accuracy of 90 per cent for Benfica this term with almost four long balls per game.
The 19-year-old has also excelled defensively with 2.2 tackles and 6.9 duels won per appearance. He has made close to seven ball recoveries per 90 minutes, winning 70 per cent of his take-ons.
The Portuguese has the hallmarks of becoming a world-class midfielder in the long-term but the question is whether Neves can have an immediate impact in the Premier League.
United are likely to part ways with Casemiro, Sofyan Amrabat and probably Christian Eriksen this summer.
Kobbie Mainoo has been brilliant in the holding midfield role despite only being 18. With his emergence, it does not appear a necessity to sign another budding young talent.
Instead, the club should focus on reinforcing the midfield with more experience. Someone like Frenkie de Jong or Nicolo Barella would be a better fit alongside Mainoo in our view.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com
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