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Transfer rumor: Arsenal linked with Ruben Neves

Arsenal are reportedly pursuing Wolves’ 24-year old midfielder.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

According to multiple reports, both in the Times and in The Athletic, Arsenal are interested in signing Ruben Neves from Wolves this summer. Wolves, like Arsenal, have to sell if they want to buy this summer, with Neves and Adama Traore the obvious candidate to bring in money for their new manager, Bruno Lage.

Neves coming to Arsenal is dependent on Arsenal selling players, and specifically, Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Roma. Neves would then either partner Thomas Partey in midfield, or one would play as a deeper midfielder in a 4-3-3. With Dani Ceballos having returned to Madrid on loan, and Partey and Mohamed Elneny absent in January because of the delayed African Cup of Nations, signing a midfielder is paramount—even if Xhaka were not to leave.

Neves though may not be the transformative upgrade in midfield; indeed, he’s not even an upgrade on Xhaka: more tackles and interceptions, in a more counter-attacking system that Wolves played under Nuno Espírito Santo, but a worse passer, a worse progressive passer, and a worse progressive carrier of the ball. All of which begs the question: why would Arsenal spend a significant amount of money when the totality of the move isn’t an upgrade?