Ruben Neves has been the diamond of Wolves’ Premier League return this season.
The Portuguese midfielder has been their standout player and is quite possibly one of the finest passers of the ball in the top-flight right now.
Some of his play in Wolves’ clash with Leicester today was simply delightful; especially his assist for their third goal, which saw him collect the ball from deep and pick out the run of Diogo Jota with a stunning pass over the defence.
Route-one football can be beautiful.
There’s very few players around at the moment with that kind of vision and passing ability.
Neves truly is on the cusp of being world class, and it’s surely only a matter of time before the Premier League’s big boys come knocking.
Already, Man City have been talked up as potential suitors, with City reportedly sending scouts to watch the 21-year-old play this season.
It’s certainly no secret that the reigning-champions are in the market for a new deep-lying playmaker, with Fernandinho – at the age of 33 – nearing the end of his career.
The Brazilian was simply excellent in City’s title-winning campaign last season, but surely won’t be able to continue in the same vein for much longer.
So Neves would be the perfect replacement for him, right?
The stats around Neves’ run-out against Leicester today are certainly impressive.
He recovered possession 11 times in the match, hit the ball into the final third 10 times and created three chances.
There was of course that assist for Jota, but he also played a big part in their last-minute winning goal as well – seeking out Raul Jimenez with a long pass to the right wing, before Jimenez picked out Jota with the cross.
But it remains to be seen whether Neves would be able to replicate the defensive side of Fernandinho’s role, with the City midfielder’s mobility and his reading of the game essential to their style of play under Pep Guardiola.
City have been heavily linked with a move for Frenkie de Jong of Ajax in recent months, but it seems fairly likely that the Dutch midfielder will probably move to either Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain instead.
Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele and Napoli’s Allan are also options, but neither have the same Premier League experience that Neves does.
The fact is, there’s few players around better suited to replacing Fernandinho than Neves, and that’s a worrying problem for Wolves.