Manchester United suffer transfer blow as £40m-rated key target ‘ponders next move’

The Red Devils are believed to be offering a fee around £10m short of that needed to sign the player.

Manchester United have had a subdued January transfer window so far, with five loan exits the only notable activity.

The rumour mill has been churning away at pace throughout the month, with a host of stars being tantalisingly touted with a move to Old Trafford, only for the seemingly promising reports to fade to nothing a day or two later.

The Red Devils are yet to sign a single player this month, and their hopes of capturing a new star look to have now taken a further blow, with reports suggesting they'll have to wait until the summer to sign Wolverhampton midfielder Ruben Neves.

Here's everything you need to know about the latest player to be linked with a move to Old Trafford:

Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers

What's the story?

According to reports from the Sun, United and Arsenal target Neves is set to stay at Molineux until the summer, with Wolves seemingly "confident" of keeping their man. It is suggested that their potential qualification for European football next season could tempt him to stay for another year.

The story also states that Wolves would require their asking price, which is in the region of £40m-£45m to be met, while the Red Devils were initially hopeful that a more conservative bid of £35m would suffice.

It is, however, reported that the player is in no rush to sign a new deal, and is currently considering his options.

His manager, Bruno Lage, has suggested that the player's motive for a potential exit isn't down to money, but instead the desire to test himself at the highest level - as things stand, Wolves are just four points off the top four, with a game in hand over United.

Ronaldo last played against Wolves. Credit: Getty.

Why is Ruben Neves in such high demand?

At the age of 24, Neves is a huge talent with the world - and most often the ball, at the expense of his opposition - at his feet.

A supremely confident playmaker, the former Porto prodigy is cool-headed central midfielder with the ability to dictate the play from the middle of the park, and raise the momentum with his quickfire passing play.

As well as that, he's also adept at switching the play with arching, accurate long passes, which could add an extra dimension to United's build-up play.

Neves rarely scores, but when he does, it’s almost certain to be a blinder - lethal long-range strikes are something of a speciality for the 26-cap Portugal international.

How likely are United to sign the player?

By the sounds of things, a deal this month looks to be highly unlikely.

The report clearly states it would take an "extraordinary offer" for Neves to be sold before the transfer window shuts on Monday.

On top of that Arsenal are understood to be interested in the Portuguese ace, and United are unlikely to be up for a bidding war for a player they could return for in the summer.

Some form of summer squad overhaul Old Trafford looks increasingly likely, and Neves would certainly add some serious dynamism to United's midfield.

However, it looks like this deal may well have to wait until the end of the current campaign.