The Rise of Ruben Neves has been rather extreme. by JH
A 17 year old kid, called upon to start for Porto, in their season opener last season. Ruben Neves produced both the opening goal and a much unexpected man of the match performance. In the year that has gone by, Ruben Neves has gone from the surprise inclusion in a Porto squad, to a potentiel star, scouted by the worlds best.
Playing deep in the heart of the Porto midfield, Neves controls the pace of the game with an almost Pirloesque ease, very rarely taking more than a touch before the ball is moved on to a teammate.
With opposition players in close proximity, he seems to twist and turn effortlessly away from them before finding a teammate, at such a young age his composure is quite astounding, his passes are sharp and accurate, equally comfortable with his right and his left foot. He is yet to look uncomfortable with the ball.
However it is not just his talent on the ball that has garnered the attention of the biggest clubs in Europe, he is just as good off the ball. Playing the deep midfield role since the age of 8, Neves has developed tactically far quicker than most, very rarely caught out of position, aggressive in his attempts to win back possession, he also has fantastic intelligence for his age and is able to read play very well which his Porto B manager sees as his best attribute. Then we have his leadership, aged just 18, Ruben Neves was made captain at Porto, the youngest in their history. But perhaps the biggest testament to his ability is that back in Portugal, not much was really made of it, there was no great shock, no outrage. The youngest player in Porto’s XI had just been made captain, and it all just seemed natural. Neves performed with his usual fantastic consistency, seemingly unaware of the pressure that the armband should bring, he took it in his stride and continued on with his job.
Despite being roughly a decade younger than most of his Porto teammates, Neves has no issues with barking orders at them, pushing and pulling them into the correct spaces, and generally organising nine outfield players that are vastly more experienced than he is. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than this, is his teammates response, they are happy to take his commands, they listen to what he has to say, and follow his lead.
At 5’11 his lack of height will put fans off, most of us want a 7ft tall 300lbs CDM, but lets be realistic. And let us not forget, many of us are perfectly happy for Coquelin to be our starting CDM, he is just 5’10.
A second downside to Neves is the only weakness in his game people are able to spot, Man Marking, positionally he is superb, we will rule his space on the field with consummate ease, but if he was asked to do a man marking job, such as Coquelin vs Silva, he struggles, however, I think you can count the amount of times we have deployed man marking in the last couple of years on one hand, and also, he is 18, and still has so much improving to do, perhaps Coquelin and Neves would be the way to go.
I believe Neves would be a very attractive proposition for AW. As we know he likes young technical players, maturity beyond their years, he almost seems the Ideal candidate to replace Santi Cazorla when that time comes.
The main stumbling block in this deal however is Porto, there is simply no way that they will sell for any less than his £29 million release clause, rumours claim that Arsenal are already preparing a £22million offer, £7million more and he could be ours, depending of course on the players decision.
However one thing that will point away from this, Jack Wilshere is soon returning to fitness, and that deep role is his best, AW wants Ramsey in the side but he is not disciplined enough to play there, Santi Cazorla is Wenger’s dream, tiny, technical. Arsenal also have very high hopes for Zelalem, Adelaide, Crowley, Bielik who will all occupy the central positions. However one would hope that AW would realise the importance of having a better CDM than Mathieu Flamini. Wenger doesn’t see Wilshere as a deep midfielder, Ramsey is not able to play there due to his evident desire to be a striker. Cazorla is weak, and now is starting to lose the legs to play there, Coquelin is injured, Bielik is too young yet, Arteta and Flamini are not good enough. A signing must be made.
Neves would be my choice, I would not complain if we signed a Bender or a Carvalho. But I see Neves as the more Natural AW choice.
What do you guys think? Do you think Neves would be AWs pick? Would you trust a 18 year old at the centre of our midfield?