Ruben Neves scout report - Profiling the Manchester United and Liverpool target
The Primeira Liga of Portugal has mostly been a 3 horse race since its genesis with Benfica, Porto and Sporting being the 3 most successful teams. FC Porto is the second most successful club in the Portuguese league with 27 titles, however, the Dragons have been quite tame in the last 2 seasons.
For the second consecutive season, FC Porto failed to win any trophies, but they might have discovered a very promising midfield talent in the process, from their youth system, which has been churning out promising talent for a long time now. Ruben Neves has been a sensation for Porto since he made his debut for the team and has the remarkable feat of becoming the youngest captain ever, in the club’s history.
Born in Mozelos on 13 March 1997, Neves joined the youth system of Porto at the tender age of 8. He made his Primeira Liga debut for the Dragons at the age of 17 years and 5 months, and the Portuguese played his first Champions League match 5 days later breaking the record of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo for being the youngest player from Portugal to play in the competition.
He scored his first goal in his debut match itself against CS Maritimo, and at the age of 18 years, he became the youngest ever captain in the history of FC Porto. Neves made his international debut against Russia in a friendly match courtesy an injury to Joao Moutinho. His low experience at the international stage might have led to his non-inclusion in the Portugal side for the Euro this time, but he is one for the future.
He plays as a holding midfielder for FC Porto and has scored thrice in 2 seasons for them. The young prolific midfielder has attracted top Premiere league clubs and Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp are said to be long-time admirers of his midfield prowess.
Neves, for a player so young, shows great maturity on the field and has all the traits of a future captain of a top club. His vision combined with an astute sense of positioning makes him an asset for any team he plays for. He is equally adept at long range and short range passing and makes sublime decisions whilst in control of the ball. The calmness he possesses at this age is outstanding since this attribute at such an early stage is a rarity in football.
His grace under pressure combined with composure in passing is incredible, and his record of being the youngest captain for Porto speaks volumes of his mental strength and leadership qualities.
The young star is being represented by Jorge Mendes, one of the most sought after agent, and is most likely to sign with Liverpool and partner Henderson in midfield. His playing style includes long aerial balls which might perfectly fit with Klopp’s style at Liverpool. Even though his duties mostly limit him to a defensive style at FC Porto, he is a very creative player as well and is tasked with dictating the pace of play.
Neves’ physical strength might be one of his few weaknesses currently, however for a player still in his teens he is bound to mature physically. Even though he captained an elite Champions league side he still doesn’t have experience in a top league in Europe and if he joins a top club he might not get a starting berth in the initial stages itself.
He is more adept at protecting space rather than marking opponents and is known to sometimes take over-ambitious shots at goal. His playing style focusses more on passing to the wide areas more rather than looking for the incisive pass forward. Even though this attribute might not be expected from his playing position, but since he likes to move forward a bit he might want to develop this important feature in his game.
The young sensation has made a name for himself amongst the greats of FC Porto and is being currently compared with the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Busquets. Interests from top managers verifies the talent he has, and he is expected to improve with every game that he plays.
He might want to stay with Porto for another year and develop as a player and a leader, and eventually join a top club in a top league. With his technical abilities, he might be on the verge of becoming a Pirlo for his national side in the future.
Remember the name – Ruben Neves