For those football fans who relish the drama of the transfer window, things certainly stepped up a gear with some very notable moves being confirmed, and one of the more surprising ones came over the weekend as English Premier League side, Wolverhampton Wanderers, confirmed that they had now completed the speculated sale of club captain Ruben Neves to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.
The 26 year old Portugal international midfielder now becomes the latest player to head to the Saudi Arabian Pro League, and he follows Cristiano Ronaldo who joined Al-Nassr back in January, and earlier this month French international and former Real Madrid star Karim Benzema also made the switch out to Al-Ittihad, and he himself was quickly followed to the same club by 32 year old former Chelsea man N’Golo Kante.
Neves spoke out at the end of the 2022/23 season to confirmed he was ambitious and at the time Spanish giants Barcelona were heavily linked with having an interest in him, but that interest was not firmed up and with only a year remaining on his contract and after six years in the Midlands, Wolves have decided to cash in on him with Al-Hilal reportedly paying £47 million for his services.
It is unlikely to be the final move Saudi Arabian sides make either, as it is believed that Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is now close to secure a deal with Al Ahli, and it is rumoured that Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva is also a target for Al-Hilal.
With the Neves move now done and dusted, he becomes Wolves’ new record sale, replacing Diogo Joto who switched to Liverpool for £41 million back in 2020, and he also enters the record books of Saudi Arabia football, as he is now the divisions most expensive signing – eclipsing the previous record of £15.4 million which was set when Al-Hilal paid West Bromwich Albion 18 million Euros to secure the transfer of Matheus Pereira back in 2021.
Neves leaves the club having made 253 appearances for them across all competitions, scoring 30 goals and helping them achieve promotion from the Championship back in 2017/18 and establishing themselves as a top flight club once again.
“There are no words to describe our dressing room, with a team spirit that I’ve never experienced before. And then to become captain for the final year made me so proud. My kids grew up in Wolverhampton and they were so happy here. Me and my lovely wife will never forget the time we had here as a family.”
It might be a tasty fee but some fans will definitely question his ultimate destination.