Spanish outlets claim that Barcelona have shortlisted Ruben Neves for a transfer despite the midfielder being linked to Arsenal.
The need to strengthen in the midfield area was evident at the start of the transfer window. This was made even more clear when injuries suffered to Thomas Partey and Mohammed Elneny during the early weeks of the season had seriously weakened Mikel Arteta’s options in the middle of the park.
Due to Arsenal’s decision not to strengthen the midfield in the final weeks of the summer window, it has meant that the transfer attention has been switched to January with the hopes that the Gunners will spend then. However, it seems Douglas Luiz has ruled himself out of a potential move amid Arsenal’s £30m summer transfer deadline bid, as he signed a new Aston Villa contract meaning Edu will need to explore alternatives.
One ideal option would be Ruben Neves from Wolves, as the Gunners have been linked in the past. But, Barcelona’s transfer intentions could spoil a potential deal.
According to Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona will seek to strengthen their midfield next summer and two names are at the top of the list. These are Martin Zubimendi and Neves.
The outlet goes on to claim that Xavi’s preference is the Real Sociedad player. This gives Edu an opportunity to swoop in just in case Barcelona miss out on their main target.
According to the Sunday Express, the Gunners are hoping to move ahead of Liverpool and Manchester United in their pursuit of Wolves midfielder Neves. The Gunners are known to be admirers of the Portuguese international after being heavily linked last season.
With Partey already missing a couple of games this season it has sent a reminder that Arsenal need to address the midfield department. The detriment of his absence was already highlighted in this campaign when Arteta’s side travelled to Old Trafford on the back of five consecutive wins.
Arsenal struggled in the midfield against United, and ultimately lost 3-1 as Albert Sambi Lokonga came in to replace Partey, proving that without the Ghanaian in the team, the Gunners become a much weaker force.
Neves’ excellent tackling statistics shows that he can operate in the no.6 role. There have also been times this season when he has been tasked with dropping to centre-back for Wolves, highlighting that he has the necessary defensive awareness.
His range of passing and ability to strike the ball also makes him a useful option in the no.8 role. Neves would certainly be an excellent midfield signing and it is a transfer that Edu should continue to explore
Neves would also be able to bridge the quality gap in the midfield which softens the blow of Partey and Granit Xhaka’s absence. A deal could be easier to complete as Wolves ramped up their transfer business and the midfielder is yet to sign a new contract with his current deal expiring at the end of the next season.
But, with Barcelona also lurking to potentially capture the midfielder, Edu has to put Arsenal ahead in negotiations while the Catalan side focuses on their main target in Zubimendi from Real Sociedad.