Manchester United were in attendance to watch Benfica midfielder Joao Neves playing – and scoring – against Sporting CP over the weekend, Fabrizio Romano has confirmed.
TEAMtalk explained that Man Utd were watching Neves last month and they are keeping up their pursuit. Reports recently claimed they were among the clubs keeping track of Neves during Benfica’s recent win over Sporting.
Liverpool and Arsenal were also said to be watching Neves, according to 90min, but Man Utd are long-term admirers – indeed, we revealed they were monitoring him even at youth level over a year ago.
And transfer expert Romano has now verified that Man Utd officials were keeping an eye on him during Sunday’s match.
Neves scored an equaliser for Benfica in the 94th minute and they went on to win 2-1 after teammate Casper Tengstedt scored three minutes later.
Any decision about whether or not Man Utd bid for Neves will have to wait until the club finalise their board after Sir Jim Ratcliffe takes his 25% stake in the club.
Nevertheless, time might be on their side if Benfica try to avoid a January sale of their academy graduate. Back in the summer, they gave him a contract until 2028.
It is understood to contain a €120m release clause, which equates to more than £104m. Few clubs would consider paying that kind of price for a player of relatively little experience.
However, the 19-year-old has been making a name for himself domestically in Portugal and in the Champions League and appears to have a high ceiling.
In Man Utd’s case, he has been shortlisted as a potential successor to Casemiro in holding midfield.
Doubts are developing about the Brazilian’s long-term future at Old Trafford, since Ratcliffe does not appear to be too fond of building around the former Real Madrid star.
Neves tipped to take over from Casemiro
At the age of 31, Casemiro could be pushed away from Man Utd, who would need to invest in a replacement for years to come.
Neves could fit the bill, but Man Utd will have to work hard to stay ahead of the competition for his signature.
The teenager has 38 appearances to his name for Benfica so far, but could become the latest Portuguese member of the Man Utd squad after Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes if things eventually fall into place.
Neves is currently on duty with the Portugal national team for the November break, along with Fernandes (although Dalot has withdrawn for personal reasons).