Premier League • England

Chelsea handed major reprieve after development in Barcelona hunt for Busquets successor involves Man Utd

Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves battling Man Utd attacker Bruno Fernandes

A Man Utd transfer target Erik ten Hag considered signing instead of Frenkie de Jong could replace Sergio Busquets at Barcelona, and why that’s good news for Chelsea has been revealed.

The biggest transfer saga of the summer revolved around whether Manchester United could convince De Jong to sign. The Red Devils quickly forged a £72.6m agreement with Barcelona, though cajoling the player into swapping Spain for England proved difficult.

Ultimately, United’s pursuit of Ten Hag’s primary midfield target ended in defeat. That resulted in a move for Casemiro quickly ramping up, while free agent Christian Eriksen has assumed De Jong’s would-be role as the deep-lying playmaker.

However, various outlets throughout the summer suggested Wolves’ Ruben Neves could be De Jong’s alternative.

Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy, the Manchester Evening News and the Mirror all claimed Neves was high on United’s radar.

He’s entered the final two years of his contract at Molineux and the summer window represented the ideal time for Wolves to cash in.

Neves would remain where he was when the window slammed shut, though his long-term future may still lay away from Wolves.

Barcelona are preparing for life after Sergio Busquets with the veteran Spaniard, now 34, due to leave as a free agent in 2023.

Busquets heading to America?

Fabrizio Romano reported a move Stateside to MLS is his likeliest option at present. Busquets is stated to be ‘tempted’ by the new challenge.

The Mirror noted Chelsea’s Jorginho had emerged as a genuine contender to fill the Busquets void next summer.

At that time, Jorginho will be a free agent – unless he signs an extension first, of course.

Jorginho has been an integral part of the Blues’ midfield in recent years. Losing him would be a blow, especially as N’Golo Kante’s future is up in the air too.

However, according to Marca, Barcelona have two targets to replace Busquets in mind and neither of them are Jorginho.

Man Utd target Ruben Neves courted

They report Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi and Wolves’ Ruben Neves are in their crosshairs.

Regarding Neves, it’s claimed he would represent the more ‘established’ and therefore readymade option.

It’s acknowledged he won’t come cheap, though two factors would aid Barca’s cause.

Firstly, Neves will only have one year on his contract next summer, meaning a price drop is likely. Secondly, his agent, Jorge Mendes, holds a strong relationship with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Marca add it looks ‘all but certain’ Busquets will leave the Camp Nou in 2023. All eyes will be on who is signed as his replacement.

Wolves already looking to the future

Given Wolves aren’t flush with cash at present, their summer spending appeared to be a case of one in, one out.

A move for forward Goncalo Guedes laid the foundations for Morgan Gibbs-White’s sale to Nottingham Forest. Wolves wanted to retain the 22-year-old, though their stance appeared to shift once Guedes arrived.

That turn of events sparked speculation Matheus Nunes’ club-record £38m arrival could spell the end for Neves.

The Portugal international did not leave, though in Nunes, Bruno Lage already has his replacement on the books.

There has been talk Nunes’ stay at Wolves could be s short one. Indeed, he was heavily linked with Liverpool before moving to Molineux and there has been talk of Liverpool bringing their midfield plans forward to January.

However, Wolves are likely to resist all attempts to such such a promising star after only just arriving.