Top Portugal ace poised to reject Man Utd, Arsenal as rival ‘agreement’ reached with Euro giant

Pepe, Diogo Costa, Ruben Neves and Matheus Nunes of Portugal

A classy Portugal international is close to rejecting Manchester United and Arsenal by signing for one of Europe’s most successful clubs instead, according to reports.

Man Utd already have a small contingent of Portuguese stars in their squad, which is made up of right-back Diogo Dalot and midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Dalot has been rivalling Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a starting spot under Erik ten Hag for much of the campaign, though both defenders could be replaced by Jeremie Frimpong this summer.

Fernandes, meanwhile, remains a crucial player for Man Utd, having made 54 appearances across all competitions this term. In that time, he has chipped in with 11 goals and 14 assists.

Arsenal have just one Portuguese player in their senior squad, in the form of creative midfielder Fabio Vieira. He was signed from Porto last summer, though he has had to play a bit-part role due to the exceptional form of club captain Martin Odegaard.

Man Utd and Arsenal have both been named as potential suitors for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who has won 39 caps for the Portugal national team.

Wolves would love to keep their talisman at Molineux but will struggle to do so given the fact his contract expires in summer 2024. That means this summer may be the best time for them to sell so they can still receive a decent amount of money for him.

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But Man Utd and Arsenal will face a transfer rival in La Liga giants Barcelona. They have frequently been tipped to take Neves to Spain, despite their financial problems.

Shock reports have suggested Wolves could offer Neves, plus €30million (£26m), to try and sign Barca winger Ansu Fati. However, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano shut down such claims on Tuesday.

Spanish media suggest Ruben Neves will head to Barcelona

But that has not stopped the Spanish press talking up Neves’ potential transfer to Catalonia.

Sport claim a deal between Wolves and Barca is ‘very close’ to being finalised. Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, state that there is a ‘verbal agreement’ in place between Barca and Neves’ agent, well-known representative Jorge Mendes (via Sport Witness).

It is claimed that if Mendes can sell his other client Fati, then Barca will make a move for Neves. Currently, they cannot afford to bid for the 26-year-old Premier League star without bringing in funds through a sale.

Fati has previously been linked with major English teams such as Arsenal and Tottenham, although they are not eyeing him for a transfer right now. Instead, it is likely Fati will remain in Spain by joining another La Liga team such as Sevilla.

Should Mendes manage to offload Fati for a decent fee, then this should allow Barca to launch a move for Neves.

However, the story of this rather complicated transfer does not end there. Mundo Deportivo add to the confusion by stating that Barca manager Xavi does not actually want Neves to join. Instead, it is senior Barca officials above him that are pushing Mendes to get a deal sorted.

Xavi does not believe Neves would suit his playing style, but Barca chiefs disagree. This could result in a breakdown in the relationship between Xavi and those above him.

Wolves fans would hate to see Neves depart the West Midlands. But if he is to leave, then they would rather he shines and shows off his top-class talent, rather than sitting on the bench as Xavi does not believe in him.

Neves’ future has yet to be decided, though it looks like Barca are edging closer to signing him – even if that is not the ideal outcome for Xavi.

Meanwhile, Man Utd have made a serious enquiry for a potential successor to Raphael Varane, as per one journalist.