Liverpool: Imagine Ruben Neves & Van Dijk

The Wolves midfielder is as robust as they come…

Liverpool are in pursuit of Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves, and are now believed to have made their move to tie up a deal for the Portuguese ace.

What’s the latest on Ruben Neves to Liverpool?
That’s according to Football Insider, who claim that the Old Gold are set to accept a £50m bid for their most coveted asset with just one year remaining on his current deal and no resolution in sight.

The report continues to claim that the Reds have requested to be kept informed about potential developments in the situation, and with the 26-year-old completing an emotional lap of honour after his final home game of the term against Everton it appears that a departure is forthcoming.

Barcelona are also interested, with Spanish sources previously indicating that La Blaugrana had the lead in the race, but Ansu Fati’s refusal to be included as a makeweight in a prospective transfer has left Liverpool ready to pounce.

How good is Ruben Neves?
Liverpool will target several midfielders capable of making a marked improvement on Jurgen Klopp’s squad this summer, with Europa League football the destination after failing to qualify for the top four.

James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all departing at the end of their contracts, while captain Jordan Henderson and pass master Thiago Alcantara are both 32, with the captain 33 in one month’s time.

The “incredible” Neves – as lauded by former teammate Hugo Bueno – is at the peak of his powers right now and has been the centrepiece of Wolves’ success since rising from the Championship and reaching a Europa League quarter-final, forging 252 appearances, scoring 30 goals and providing 13 assists.

The 39-cap machine has been robust and dynamic from his conducting role this term, which is evidenced by his average Sofascore rating of 7.26, scoring six goals from 34 outings, completing 83% of his passes, averaging 0.9 key passes per game and making 2.3 tackles, 2.4 clearances and 1.5 interceptions each match.

Having been a “hero” for his side during his time at Molineux, as lauded by journalist Matt Maher, the midfield titan would provide composure and steel to the Liverpool centre, bolstering the ranks with his tenacious, unflinching demeanour on the pitch.

His arrival would only serve to enhance the endeavours of centre-back Virgil van Dijk, who has been criticised for some of his performances this season amid Liverpool’s strife.

The club’s issues this season have largely been a product of negligence on the transfer market over the past several years, with Thiago the only senior midfield signing since 2018, and for all the Spaniard’s prowess with the ball, there is a belief that he has “slowed” the Reds down with his distinctive style of play – as per club legend John Barnes – with his injury record also less than admirable.

Van Djik has consequently suffered from the absence of control and energy in the midfield this term, with one journalist branding him “nonchalant”.

While the Dutch titan is not the most tackle-happy centre-back in the Premier League – he ranks among the bottom 4% of centre-backs across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for tackles per 90 – this is largely a product of his commanding style of play and efficacy in timing his defensive movements to inhibit opposing attacks.

Equally, the former Southampton man is also adept at sweeping away the danger when it presents itself, as he has made 4.2 clearances on average per game in the Premier League this term and won 70% of his contested duels.

A sturdy conductor would not only reignite the Reds midfield but serve as a buffer for the back four, and with Van Dijk not quite so imperious anymore, renewed vitality in the mould of Neves would only serve to enhance his side’s prospects of success next season and beyond.