Premier League • England

Ruben Neves becomes likeliest Barcelona candidate to replace key man as midfielder moves closer to wish

Wolves star Ruben Neves

Ruben Neves could get his wish of joining Barcelona from Wolves after emerging as the most feasible successor to Sergio Busquets, per a Spanish report.

Neves has been a standout player for Wolves since joining them from Porto in 2017. He immediately helped them win promotion from the Championship and then played his part in taking them to Europe.

But Wolves have just missed out on a top-seven place this season. Now 25 years old, Neves could be ready for the next step in his career.

The midfielder has been linked with a move to Manchester United or Arsenal. Yet it recently emerged that he would prefer to join Barcelona.

Now, Diario Sport are claiming that option could well be on the table for the Portugal international.

Their report claims Barcelona are looking at signing a defensive midfielder in the summer to become the heir to Busquets, who has roamed that part of their pitch for over a decade.

Busquets turns 34 over the summer and is only under contract for another year. Therefore, it may be the time to phase him out soon.

According to Sport, Barcelona have three options to succeed him. They are interested in Aurelien Tchouameni of Monaco, Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad and Neves himself.

Ruben Neves top target for Ten Hag and Manchester United

Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves is wanted by Erik Ten Hag as his first signing for Manchester United this summer

But Neves would likely be the easiest option, since Tchouameni may want to wait before taking his pick of Europe’s elite, and Zubimendi will not be available for less than his €60m release clause.

On the other hand, agent Jorge Mendes could facilitate a move for Neves to Barcelona. Even though Wolves will want a big figure too, there is a feeling the price could be lower than expected.

What’s more, there are several options on the table for a potential part-exchange deal. Barcelona could offer cash plus any of Ez Abde, Nico, Alejandro Balde, Riqui Puig or Oscar Mingueza to appease the Premier League sellers.

Wolves may need to invest elsewhere to replace Neves

They are all young talents that Wolves could develop. Nico and Puig are both midfielders who could help fill any void Neves directly leaves.

That said, they may not be immediately ready to replicate what Neves gives to Wolves. The fact that Barcelona would likely be giving a decent sum of money on top would allow the Wanderers to invest where they see appropriate.

Finding an additional midfielder, in that regard, would be beneficial. Neves has been one of the best players at Molineux for a number of seasons.

That said, the club probably cannot stand in his way if he wants to progress. With a contract until 2024, this may be the optimal time to cash in.

He could help Barcelona fill any void Busquets will one day leave, but Neves would leave behind another gap back in the Wolves squad that will need to be replenished.

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