Manchester United report: Ruben Neves seen as the "perfect" defensive midfielder for Ralf Rangnick to sign this January

Manchester United target Ruben Neves
(Image credit: PA)

Manchester United could end their long-time pursuit of Declan Rice and target Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers, instead.

That's the view of Manchester Evening News, who tout the Portuguese midfielder as the "perfect alternative" to the West Ham midfielder. Rice was considered in the summer, according to reports, before the Red Devils hierarchy ruled out a move in what was already an expensive window. 

United succumbed Joao Moutinho's outside-of-the-box winner in the final ten minutes of the game against Wolves on Monday night. It was his central midfield partner Neves, however, who showed exactly why he could function in Rangnick's system with 90 minutes of discipline.

The Wolves schemer got forward well to support attacks, while getting back to help out defensively in a solid box-to-box performance. The Portuguese is dynamic enough to cope with high-pressing and high intensity – yet is a pass master able to dictate play. 

At just 18, Neves became the youngest captain in the Champions League ever, proving his credentials as an on-field leader, while he has experience of playing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes at international level. 

And despite being in his fourth season as one of the more prominent midfielders in the Premier League, the Mozelos-born midfielder is still just 24, with room to develop. Wolves may well be resigned to cashing in on the player, too – who they spent a then-Championship record £15m on back in 2017. 

Recent comments from Bruno Lage suggest Neves' future could well lie away from Molineux, too – perhaps with coded hints that United could launch a bid. 

"Ruben is in that place where he needs a different challenge," Lage claimed.

"We also want a different challenge for the club. We want to push younger guys, like Ruben, to the next level. He plays alongside Joao Moutinho every day. It's the little details that count. But players such as [Cristiano] Ronaldo also have big experience. When you play with these guys, you learn."

Ruben Neves is valued at £36m on Transfermarkt

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.