Ruben Neves has confirmed his stance on a possible Saudi January exit and a Premier League return, amid Arsenal and Newcastle interest.
The 26-year-old has become a serious target for both of those teams, who are in need of midfield reinforcements.
Sandro Tonali’s ban for his role in an illicit betting scandal has cost Newcastle their star player. Meanwhile, Thomas Partey’s potential departure from Arsenal in the next coming weeks means that both clubs will need to add a quality central midfielder to their rosters.
Neves may have been a great short-term addition due to his vast Premier League expertise. Both teams would certainly benefit from his midfield skills and his ability to make an early impression. It is only fair that Neves play at the top level right now, while he is at the height of his abilities.
In the summer transfer window, the Portuguese midfielder signed for Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia for a reported $60 million. Rumor has it that Newcastle might utilize their ties with Saudi Arabia to seal the transaction.
This season, both sides will be aiming for major league goals. Eddie Howe’s players will be aiming to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. On the other hand, Mikel Arteta’s side would aim to win the league. In January, both clubs will need to make moves to fill roster holes; who exactly those players are is anyone’s guess.
What did Ruben Neves say about his future?
The news broke in November that Newcastle might bring in loan players in January from other teams owned by Saudi Arabia. Since Premier League teams failed to get the necessary number of votes, there will be no temporary restriction on related-party loans.
With Sandro Tonali out for 10 months for betting rule violations, the Magpies may be able to bolster their midfield with the aid of Neves. Eddie Howe, the manager, has already spoken clean about his admiration for the player.
However, it seems that the player is not enthusiastic about a possible return to the English top tier. For the time being, at least, Neves has committed to remaining at Al-Hilal. Whatever the case may be, the 26-year-old insists that he and his family are really enjoying their stay in Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t go. I think that’s rumours because of the owner of the clubs of course, and because I’ve played in England as well. There was Newcastle interest before I came here but I’m really happy here, my family’s really happy, so I’m having a great time”, he told the BBC.
Intra-PIF moves cause stir
The two English teams will take his remarks personally, and it is unclear whether they would pursue other targets in light of this setback.
The rumor of Neves’ possible loan transfer to St. James’ Park has created quite a commotion, especially because Al-Hilal and the Magpies are under the same ownership group.
Some felt that the transfer price that the Saudi club paid to the English outfit, another club controlled by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), for Allan Saint-Maximin was excessive. Newcastle may be able to get around Financial Fair Play regulations and sign players with advantageous contracts since Saudi Arabian teams are exempt from them.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo
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