Man Utd receive transfer boost as top target, tipped to star at Euro 2024, 'makes contract decision'

The latest on Manchester United's pursuit of a Portuguese wonderkid.The latest on Manchester United's pursuit of a Portuguese wonderkid.
The latest on Manchester United's pursuit of a Portuguese wonderkid. | Getty Images
Manchester United are keeping tabs on one of the best young prospects in European football

Highly-rated Portuguese wonderkid Joao Neves has reportedly rejected a new and improved contract at Benfica amid speculation linking him with a blockbuster move to Manchester United this summer.

The Red Devils are keen to bring in a young midfielder this summer to replace Casemiro, who remains the subject of intense speculation linking him with a move to Saudi Arabia after a difficult second season in England.

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United’s new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe claimed that the club’s new recruitment approach would be to make moves for young talent that they can develop rather than ready-made superstars, claiming that the club would ‘rather sign the next Mbappe rather than spend a fortune buying success. It's not that clever buying Mbappe.’

Neves appears to be a player that would perfectly fit United’s new recruitment model. The 19-year-old is the latest in a long line of talents to progress through the highly esteemed Benfica academy, which has already produced Eagles teammate Antonio Silva along with a host of star-studded names including Bernardo Silva, Enzo Fernandez, Darwin Nunez, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo and Ederson.

Neves has been a highly-rated player at Benfica’s for a number of years. Since signing for the academy aged 12, he has represented Portugal at U15, U19 and U21 level. However, it was the £106m sale of Enzo which catapulted him into the first team and since the back end of the 2022/23 season he has proven himself to be a ready-made replacement for the Argentine.

The teenage sensation has already made a combined 50 league appearances for the Portuguese club since making his debut in December 2022 and has been lauded for his pace, agility, stamina, dribbling and tackling - winning the league’s award for midfielder of the month on five separate occasions this season, whilst establishing himself as a full senior international for Portugal, winning six caps under Roberto Martinez.

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Neves talent and in-game intelligence make him a key player for Portugal heading into Euro 2024, where he is expected to secure a starting spot in group stage matches against Turkey, Czech Republic and Georgia. The youngster is currently under contract until 2028 at the Estádio da Luz, and like Enzo has a release clause of £106m included in his contract, according to the Metro.

Benfica are keen to tie the youngster down to an even longer contract amid interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but local reports from Portuguese sports outlet Record understands that he has rejected the offer, according to Record, to extend his deal at this time. The Cityzens have a great track record with signing Benfica players and one of them Bernardo Silva is urging the youngster to choose the Blue half of Manchester instead.

“It’s not easy. He’s a player who, due to the success he had last season, has many clubs that want him,’ Silva said.

“As a Portuguese and a player I like, I would like to see him by my side. But I want the best for him. I don’t need to convince him. João Neves is already convincing, with the way he works, with the energy he brings to the game. It will be easy for many clubs to enter the race. Let him make his decision, let it be the best for him. If he continues with this energy, he has a very good future ahead of him.” Silva said.

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