Connect in the back of the net

Ruben Neves has made plenty of headlines in 2015. The 18-year-old has been with Porto since he was eight years of age and has made his way up the ranks. For him, the tough part was beating competition to claim his spot in the starting XI, and Fernando’s sale to Manchester City gave him the opportunity to do the same.

After doing that, things have come naturally for the player. In fact, he has been so good that he was handed the captain’s armband by manager Julen Lopetegui and in the process, beat Rafael van der Vaart’s record of being the youngest captain in the Champions League.

Considering that, it is not surprising that the player has already received a senior call-up to the national team, which makes Neves even more impressive.

Impressive attributes

Neves is a defensive minded midfielder who possesses an impressive passing range. Coupled with maturity and composure, his skills enable him to make good decisions in the middle of the park on a consistent basis. At 18 years of age, you usually see flashes of potential but these starlets are usually “raw”.

If Ruben is showing us the raw side of his game, it’s almost scary what we will see once his potential is fully realised. He reads the game well and can adequately position himself to intercept the opponents’ plays. He has been compared to Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets in his style of play.

His maturity and leadership skills evident from an early age. His positional sense, footballing intelligence and ability to read the game are perhaps his biggest assets along with his passing. Somehow he understands what needs to be done at a particular moment and he can execute the decision with precision. The Portuguese international’s vision and speed of thought make his overall game even more menacing.

Luis Castro, his Porto B coach spoke exceptionally about his mentality and the calmness with which he approaches matches. Again, for an 18-year-old that is exceptional.

Tied to one position

There are many young players who take pride in being versatile. While multi-functionality sometimes proves to be of immense advantage, it often hinders development and players can be at risk of becoming jack of all trades.

It’s important to know the key position and work towards mastering that role. Since beginning his career at Porto in 2005, Neves has been operating in the same holding midfielder role. His youth coach Jose Guilherme said that he always played in the position and remained highly focused about it.

It comes as no surprise that there are plenty of clubs interested in his services. Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool are among those reported to be scouting him and Arsenal and Chelsea are the ones supposedly interested in getting him this January.

In October 2014, Porto tied Neves down to a new contract, which featured a release clause of €40 million. He is represented by super agent Jorge Mendes so it is likely that whoever wants him most will have to spend a considerable amount of money on him.

Best for him to wait and be patient

It will be best for the player to wait until the end of the season to move to another club although considering his sheer ability, he wouldn’t have too much problem establishing himself at a new club.

However, the step-up from the Portuguese league to any other top European league could be steep. Therefore, for a teenager, it would be best to make a switch in the summer where he can have the pre-season to get used to new conditions, country, coach and club.

It’s certain that the massively talented Neves will be switching Porto for one of the more attractive leagues in the near future. It will not be shocking to see Porto cave and sell their starlet considering their recent model as a football club, something similar to Southampton’s in the Premier League.


Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1

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