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Arsenal place Benfica midfielder top of their summer transfer list

Arsenal sees the Benfica midfielder as a priority target this summer and has placed him at the top of their transfer want-list

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Edu & Mikel Arteta - Arsenal
Image credit: Getty Images

Arsenal summer transfer plans have taken an ambitious turn as they set their sights on Portuguese wonderkid Joao Neves to bolster their midfield ranks for the upcoming season.

The 19-year-old star from Benfica has emerged as a prime target for Arsenal, drawing widespread attention from scouts across Europe, who are enticed by his reported £103 million release clause. A potential move to the Premier League presents Neves with an opportunity to continue his development.

Arsenal have other midfield targets like Martin Zubimendi, Douglas Luiz, Bruno Guimaraes, but according to Teamnewsandticks, Neves is now considered a priority target for the Gunners as he represents youth, quality and long term investment the Gunners are hoping make to compete and dominate European football in the next decade.

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If the deal materialises, Neves would command one of the highest transfer fees for an English signing, falling just short of the £106.8 million spent by Chelsea on Enzo Fernandez in 2023.

Arsenal target Joao Neves

Arsenal target Joao Neves (Image credit: Getty Images)

Born in southern Portugal, Neves honed his skills at Casa Benfica Tavira before ascending to the main academy in 2016. He earned his first professional contract at the age of 16 and played a pivotal role in Benfica’s triumph in the UEFA Youth League in 2022, marking the club’s first European title in six decades.

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After signing a new six-year contract in December 2022, Neves made his senior debut on New Year’s Day 2023 against Braga. His breakthrough came following the departure of Enzo Fernandez during the January transfer window, with Neves gradually solidifying his place in the first team, including scoring his maiden goal in the Derby de Lisboa against Sporting CP.

Neves’ impressive performances in the Primeira Liga caught the attention of scouts and earned him accolades, including four consecutive midfielder of the month awards between September and December. His consistent displays earned him a well-deserved call-up to the national team, where he made his debut in a 5-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Comparisons between Neves and Fernandez are inevitable, given their similar trajectories, but Neves has showcased his prowess in the Portuguese league. Leading the Primeira Liga in touches and defensive contributions, Neves presents a formidable midfield presence.

Should Neves join Arsenal, he would potentially form a formidable midfield trio alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard, elevating Arsenal’s midfield to new heights under manager Mikel Arteta’s guidance.

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