It was only last year that Rúben Neves, the youngest captain in the history of the Champions League, was linked with transfers to some of the best teams in England, such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. However, the wonderkid midfielder signed for second-tier club Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer in a deal that was worth much less than what was expected. So what happened with the transfer of Ruben Neves?
The answer is simple: Jorge Mendes, who is known as one of the best football agents in the world. The owner of Gestifute, Mendes works for some of the best footballing clients in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo, José Mourinho, Diego Costa, and, coincidentally (or maybe not so), Wolves head coach Nuno Espírito Santo. Also, Mendes is employed with Wolves as a special agent for the club. One of the young prodigies that Mendes happens to represent is none other than Rúben Neves. After a financial decline, Porto FC, one of the biggest clubs in Portugal, needed to sell some of their players to comply with Financial Fair Play. Neves was one of the players sacrificed, and Wolves, with Mendes acting as a broker, was the team that landed him. The price? A mere 15 million pounds, a record fee for the West Midlands club but much less than what is expected for a player of his caliber.
With Neves and other young Portuguese starlets such as Diogo Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro and Hélder Costa, Wolves have dominated the Championship, the second tier of English football. With 14 matches to play, Wolves are sitting top of the league, 11 points clear of second-place Cardiff City and 13 points clear of third-place Aston Villa. Without a doubt, Neves has been Wolves’ most important player. With 4 goals on the year, all outside of the box in stunning fashion, Neves has been the engineer of the most potent attack in the league. Neves has the ability to find his teammates with a surgeon’s precision, spraying passes at whatever distance and direction required. He is a maestro, the conductor who will certainly guide Wolves to the Premier League.
But what about Neves himself? Is he enjoying playing on a second-tier English team after captaining a Champions League club? Absolutely. In an interview with The Guardian, Neves said that he loves the Molineux atmosphere that Wolves fans create and also that he can control the flow of the game more easily than in Porto. Neves has made Wolves his home. The Wolves support surely will love him for many years to come dressed in the famous old gold and black.
Brassell, Andy. “Rúben Neves: ‘You’re Running the Whole Game Here. In Portugal There’s a Lot of Time-Wasting’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Sept. 2017, www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/05/ruben-neves-wolves-fresh-start.
Jones, Dean. “Ruben Neves: The Strangest Transfer of the Year.” Bleacher Report, 8 July 2017, bleacherreport.com/articles/2719601-ruben-neves-the-strangest-transfer-of-the-year.