The Championship will never witness a player like him again.
Ruben Neves’ move to Wolves from Porto last summer sent shockwaves around the footballing world and his performances this season have reinforced the bewilderment.
He remains the youngest Champions League captain in history and was courted by just about every top club in Europe.
After inspiring Wolves to promotion back to the Premier League, this week he’s been heavily linked with Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp looks to build a side capable of challenging for next season’s title.
And Neves, as a complete package, has very obvious similarities with a Reds’ icon.
Xabi Alonso had five hugely successful years on Merseyside, winning the Champions League and FA Cup before departing for Real Madrid in 2009.
Liverpool had the unenviable task of trying to replace him and, try as they might, they haven’t even come close (The memory of Alberto Aquilani will cause shudders).
But in Neves they may have finally found their man.
The 21-year-old is the archetypal midfield maestro, capable of dictating tempo the way he wants it just as Alonso used to in his pomp.
His long range passing is pinpoint and he even has a penchant for spectacular strikes, practically running his own Goal of the Season competition in the Championship.
He and Alonso even literally kick the ball in the same style:
Whether he’s passing or shooting his execution is never forced, always caressed.
Liverpool have lacked someone in that position with his composure and culture since Alonso’s exit, despite Jordan Henderson’s valiant efforts.
A move this summer makes sense in so many ways.
- Nike are bringing back some of the best World Cup boot designs (just take our money)
- Exploring the mystery behind the most underwhelming signing of the season
- The Turkish league is by far and away the most exciting in Europe this season