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Chelsea to rival Manchester United in race for Portuguese wonderkid

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Manchester United’s scouting team has been setting its sights on Benfica’s rising star, Joao Neves. It’s known through TEAMtalk that the Premier League giants have closely monitored the young talent for over 12 months, attending several of Benfica’s matches – both youth and senior level – to keenly watch Neves in action.

Currently enjoying an outstanding spell at Estadio da Luz, 19-year-old Neves has not missed a single league match. His performances have propelled Benfica to second place in the Primeira Liga standings, just behind arch-rivals Sporting CP. The club’s aim? To clinch back their title.

Neves, due to his instrumental role in the team, earned a fresh five-year contract last summer. This move not only signifies the club’s trust in him but also places him on par with top earners at the club, solidifying his position with a hefty €120million release clause.

Erik Ten Hag, Manchester United’s chief strategist, has signaled a need to inject fresh talent into the squad in the upcoming January window. However, constraints on the financial front could pose challenges.

Yet, securing Neves won’t be a straightforward task for United. With the young prodigy’s stock rising, Saudi Pro League clubs, backed by colossal financial power, are allegedly eyeing him. Neves’ association with renowned agency Gestifute and its chief, Jorge Mendes, adds another dimension. Mendes, who played a pivotal role in moving Portuguese stars Ruben Neves and Jota to Saudi Arabia, also represents global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, another high-profile name that made the surprising shift to the Middle East.

For Benfica, Neves remains crucial. His stellar form on the field has been recognized at the national level, leading to a call-up to Portugal’s main squad. Under the guidance of Roberto Martinez, Neves made his national debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina, marking it with a resounding 5-0 win.

Given Neves’ meteoric rise, the football community anticipates strong bids in the imminent winter transfer market. While Manchester United are serious contenders, Chelsea, another Premier League heavyweight, is rumored to be in the mix, although their January plans reportedly center more on bolstering their defense and forward lines, as reported by TEAMtalk.

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