Newcastle United favourites to sign Ruben Neves

Newcastle United are reportedly set to raid the Saudi Arabian market in the upcoming January transfer window and are the front-runners in the race to bring midfielder Ruben Neves back to the Premier League.

According to Teamtalk, Newcastle United are the favourites to sign Portugal international midfielder Ruben Neves in January, with sources close to the player suggesting that “his return to one of Europe’s top leagues is imminent.”

The report adds that a loan with an obligation or option to buy is likely to be part of any negotiations between Newcastle and Al-Hilal, although there may be reasons for both sides to wait until the end of the season to bring Neves in on a permanent basis, with the 26-year-old inching for a permanent move instead of a temporary switch.

The Magpies, who currently sit seventh in the Premier League table with 20 points from 12 games, spent around £55 million to sign Sandro Tonali from Serie A giants AC Milan during the summer transfer window. However, after a bright start to his Toon career, the Italian international will now miss the rest of the 2023–24 campaign after negotiating a plea bargain with Italian authorities over his betting offences.

The midfielder was one of Newcastle’s marquee signings during the recent summer window, and they are now forced to identify a replacement in January as the Toon Army faces up to the demands of juggling European and domestic football this season amidst an injury crisis throughout the squad.

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One major target for the Toon is former Wolves midfielder Neves, with the Magpies’ looking to exploit the Saudi Arabian ownership connection. It was reported earlier this month that all 20 Premier League clubs will vote on November 21 to implement “a temporary ban on loan moves for players between associated clubs” in the winter window, with Newcastle’s situation being singled out in particular amidst links to Neves.

However, after Premier League clubs voted against a ban on loaning players from within the same ownership group, the Magpies’ are now free to sign the Portuguese international, whose summer move to the Middle East came as a surprise to the football world. Many anticipated a step up to one of Europe’s elite clubs for the talented midfielder, but the unexpected turn of events and a very lucrative deal led him to Saudi Arabia.

However, despite being in the Middle Eastern League for just six months, Neves is being strongly linked with a quick return, with Arsenal also courting his services as they look to strengthen their title charge.

Gunners’ boss Mikel Arteta has long been an admirer of the 26-year-old and might be looking to bring him in to bolster his midfield options after recent injuries to Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, and Emile Smith Rowe.

Al-Hilal forked out £47 million to land Neves earlier this year, and it will cost around the same sum to bring him back to mainland Europe. The Portugal international is also on a hefty £300,000 per week, over double the salary he was netting at Molineux, so the entire operation is likely to be a costly one for any interested suitor.

With the winter transfer window just around the corner, it would be interesting to see how this saga unfolds and if Neves does, in fact, make a comeback to the English top flight.

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