Arsenal were keeping tabs on the performance of Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves during the 2-1 Primeira Liga win over Sporting Lisbon on Sunday, according to Record.
The 19-year-old only made his breakthrough with the Portuguese giants last season, but he has already established himself as a key player in the heart of their midfield.
Neves is predominantly a defensive midfielder by trade. He delivered an outstanding performance against Sporting in the comeback win at home on Sunday.
Record claim that the Gunners were impressed by Neves’ showing in the Lisbon derby but Benfica have no desire to sanction his departure for another 18 months.
They plan to keep him until the summer of 2025. If Arsenal are keen on signing him before that, they would need to trigger the €120 million release clause in his contract.
Neves would be a statement signing for Arsenal
The teenager is one of the most sought-after young midfielders in European football at the moment.
He was in fantastic form against Sporting over the weekend. Neves had a passing accuracy of 90 per cent and won a stunning 14 ground and aerial duels during the game.
The Portuguese also won seven tackles alongside four interceptions. In the attacking side, he delivered two crosses into the box and squared a key equaliser in stoppage time.
Neves has all the hallmarks to become a world-class midfielder in future. We won’t be surprised if Arsenal make a genuine attempt to land his signature at the end of the season.
Benfica are reluctant to lose his services, but we have seen on several occasions in the past that the Portuguese outfit have been tempted to sell for big-money offers.
If Arsenal were to pay a fee in the region of €100m, it is unlikely that Benfica will resist a sale.
Neves is already mature enough to command a starting role at Arsenal in our opinion. His arrival could pave the way for the departures of Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny.
Partey is eyeing a fresh challenge away from the club. The Ghanaian is currently nursing a thigh problem, but he is frustrated after Jorginho got the nod to start over him recently.
Stats from Sofascore.com