Ruben Neves looks set to move to Al Hilal after Wolves agree £47m fee with Saudi Arabian side; personal terms are not expected to be a problem and Neves is open to the move after a potential transfer to Barcelona stalled; Neves has one year left on his current Wolves contract
Wolves have agreed a £47m fee with Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal to sell midfielder Ruben Neves.
Personal terms are not expected to be a problem and Neves is open to the move after a potential transfer to Barcelona stalled. Neves told Sky Sports toward the end of the season that he wanted to play Champions League football as he addressed uncertainty regarding his future.
“Let’s see what’s going to happen. I always say the same thing, I truly love to be here. But I never hide that I want to play Champions League football,” he said.
The 26-year-old, whose contract at Molineux is due to expire next summer, had also been been linked with Manchester United in recent transfer windows. Portugal midfielder Neves scored six goals and registered one assist in 35 Premier League appearances for Wolves during the 2022/23 Premier League season. He arrived at Wolves from Porto in July 2017 and has played 253 times for the club. Neves would become just the latest high-profile player to make the move to the Saudi Pro League, following in the footsteps of his international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr in December last year.
Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, has also transferred to Saudi Arabia this summer. The 35-year-old signed for Al Ittihad, who are coached by former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, after ending his 14-year stay with Real Madrid.
Reports suggest Chelsea trio N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech are attracting interest from Saudi Arabia, while Man City’s Riyad Mahrez is another potential target for clubs in the Gulf State.
UEFA Chief: Big-spending Saudi clubs no threat to European football European football should not be afraid of a player exodus to Saudi Arabia, says UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin
European football should not be afraid of a player exodus to Saudi Arabian clubs, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Sunday, suggesting the country was making a mistake investing in stars at the end of their careers.
Ronaldo and Benzema have taken hundreds of millions of dollars to join Saudi Arabian clubs this year and similar offers were made to Lionel Messi and Luka Modric. They have combined to win every Ballon d’Or awarded since 2008 and all are aged at least 35.
More players are expected to follow after four top Saudi Arabian clubs were effectively nationalised this month when taken into majority ownership by the Public Investment Fund sovereign wealth operation chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Ceferin was asked by Dutch broadcaster NOS if he was scared of a player exodus, and answered emphatically: “No, no, no.”
“I think that it’s mainly a mistake for Saudi Arabian football,” the UEFA president said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
“Why is that a problem for them? Because they should invest in academies, they should bring coaches, and they should develop their own players.”
He added: “The system of buying the players that almost ended their career is not the system that develops football. It was a similar mistake in China when they all brought players who are at the end of their career.”