Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Exclusive: Man Utd face strong competition for highly-rated young midfielder they have tracked long-term

Joao Neves Benfica

Man Utd target Joao Neves in action for Benfica

TEAMtalk understands a young midfielder is being watched Manchester United, but the Premier League giants could face serious competition for the talented star.

The Red Devils are big fans of Benfica’s Joao Neves and have been tracking the teenager for over a year, according to sources. Indeed, we’ve been told that Manchester United scouts have been in attendance at multiple Benfica youth games to assess him, and have since watched Neves play for the senior side, with the Portuguese giants’ conveyor belt of talent showing no sign of slowing down.

The 19-year-old is having a breakthrough season at Estadio da Luz, playing in every league match so far, and Benfica sit second in the Primeira Liga table behind rivals Sporting CP with hopes of retaining their title.

Neves has been a key part of the team and is held in very high regard by his club, so much so that he was rewarded with a new five-year-deal in the summer. His new contract brought him in line with first-team earners and he has now got a sizable €120million release clause.

While Man Utd manager Erik Ten Hag has called for reinforcements in January and wants to see the club move for some of the world’s best talents, he may be hamstrung by a tight budget.

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Jorge Mendes represents Man Utd target Joao Neves

United will, though, face major competition for the Portuguese sensation as sources suggest he is a potential target for mega-bucks Saudi Pro League sides. Neves is represented by Gestifute and agency owner Jorge Mendes has overseen multiple moves to the SPL this year.

Ruben Neves and Jota are two Portuguese players who transferred to Saudi Arabia in summer moves that surprised many, as the duo also had major interest from clubs playing in Europe’s biggest competitions.

Mendes and Gestifute also helped facilitate other deals for Saudi clubs and represent Portugal legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who was the first major star to break the mould and move to the Middle East.

Benfica hope to hold on to Neves for at least the remainder of the season and his impressive form has already seen him called up to the Portuguese senior side. Manager Roberto Martinez handed the young talent his first cap against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a recent 5-0 victory.

Neves’s rapid rise to prominence has brought him more attention than ever and there is an expectation that an attempt will be made for his signature in the winter transfer window.

Man Utd’s Premier League rivals Chelsea are also understood to be interested in Neves, but are understood to instead have their focus on defensive and striking targets this January.

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