Manchester United are in the front line to sign Benfica midfielder Joao Neves but they may need to pay more for his services, according to Record (page 9).
The 19-year-old is one of the most sought-after young midfielders in European football. He has made huge progress since his debut at the start of last season.
The teenager is currently an undisputed starter in midfield for the Portuguese champions and the club are keen to reward him with a new improved contract.
Neves signed a new long-term deal in August this year but he continues to remain the lowest-paid starter at Benfica with a salary of just over €600,000 per season.
Sporting director Rui Costa is keen to reward him with a fresh deal. He also plans to increase his current release clause from €120 million to €150m in the process.
Record claim that United are in the ‘front line’ to sign Neves with ‘capital letters’ but Costa is said to be determined to keep Neves beyond the current campaign.
Benfica are reluctant to accept anything less than his buy-out clause at the moment. A transfer for Neves could get more expensive if he commits to a fresh renewal.
Contract talk could be agent-driven for a transfer
Neves has developed immensely since his breakthrough last term. He is a defensive midfielder by trade but has also played in central midfield or on the right wing.
This season, he has a passing accuracy of 91 per cent in the Primeira Liga. He has won a stunning 2.4 tackles and 7.3 duels per appearance with 4.8 ball recoveries.
Neves has already showed plenty of maturity at his age and should only get better. He has all the hallmarks of becoming a world-class midfielder in a few years’ time.
Record claim that United are the favourites to sign him, but Manchester City, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Barcelona are also monitoring his progress in Lisbon.
In our opinion, the contract talk is being highlighted to speed up the process of his departure.
We saw something similar with Goncalo Ramos last season. The forward did not pen a new deal for the whole campaign and went on to join Paris Saint-Germain.
Benfica accepted €40m less than Ramos’ €120m release clause last summer. They could hold out for a higher sum for Neves as he is three years younger and has more potential.
Neves, who was recently described as a ‘great player‘ by United captain Bruno Fernandes, would be a fantastic acquisition for United but a deal won’t be straightforward.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com
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