Thursday, March 30, 2023

Long-Term Midfield Solution Found – A Look At The Portuguese Chelsea Are Tracking

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Portuguese club FC Porto have an uncanny knack of signing unknown talents for peanuts and selling them for humongous transfer fees to the other clubs in Europe. Over the years, the sales of Danilo, Jackson Martinez, Mangala, Hulk, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho are just some of the names that have generated massive money for the club in the last four years and the best part of it is that each year there seems to be someone in the Porto squad who is tracked by the big clubs of Europe ready to shell out huge fees for his signature. This year is no different and the latest name on that list is Ruben Neves.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus are all very interested in the 19-year-old who is valued at £35m by Porto and has three years remaining on his current contract. It is reported that Chelsea want to open the bidding with £24m plus player and add-ons in the winter transfer window itself and Antonio Conte is keen on getting the deal done as quickly as possible.

Having joined the youth system of Porto at the age of eight, the player spent 9 years in honing his skills as a youth prodigy. On 15th August 2014, he made his Primeira Liga debut against C.S Maritimo and scored a goal to become the youngest goalscorer for the Club in their league history.

Having made history right from his debut, the player kept moving forward and in 2015, Neves became the youngest player to captain his side in the Champions League against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the group stage.

Still only a teenager, the player has been unique in the way he plays and for the combination of his skill set.  Primarily regarded as a defensive midfielder, Neves is one who shows great vision and passing ability and unusual composure on the ball at his feet.

His ability to drive forward and join the attack allows him to be equally adept in filling the slot of a central midfielder. His main strengths are his passing and vision coupled with the composure which allows him to create space and opportunity for the others. Having played 79 games for his club already, the Portuguese is the ideal deep lying playmaker who can tackle and break play down in the middle. This is the reason why he has drawn comparisons with both Sergio Busquets.

Porto's midfielder Ruben Neves celebrates a goal during the Portuguese Cup semi-final football match Gil Vicente FC vs FC Porto at the Barcelos City stadium in Barcelos on February 3, 2016. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG / AFP / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Having said all that, expectedly there are also some things which the player needs to work on and develop and the biggest of them relates to the defensive phase. While there are a few players who can see a pass like Neves, in the defensive phase he shows a bit of disparity in his reading of the situation.

Moreover, despite being industrious, and good in his interceptions, his tackling would need some improvement. The player needs to stay on his feet more often rather than sliding down the ground a bit rashly. With his intelligence, it is expected that he will improve in those areas in the future particularly as he is more suited naturally to play in the deep midfield and control the tempo.

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