Arsenal could hijack Man Utd Joao Neves transfer in shock twist

According to TBR football, the Joao Neves transfer saga could be set to take another twist, as Arsenal have added the 19-year-old to their list of midfield targets and are set to rival Manchester United. 

At United, the Benfica star is seen as an ideal replacement for Casemiro, who is expected to leave Old Trafford. At Arsenal, Neves would be a like-for-like replacement for the injury prone Thomas Partey.

It is claimed that the Red Devils are expected to make an official offer for him soon to steal a march on the Gunners, although it is unclear how much they would be willing to bid.

Joao Neves has emerged as one of Europe's brightest young players – Photo by Icon Sport

Joao Neves transfer latest: Teen star could ‘complete' Arsenal midfield

At just 19, Neves could be moulded into the exact complementary profile Arteta is looking for. With a bigger transfer budget, Champions League football and a better environment, Arsenal could arguably make the more attractive offer to Neves.

The case for Arsenal

Arsenal's midfield has had two constants this season: Martin Ødegaard and Declan Rice, both of whom are among the best in the world. The third spot has been shared between Kai Havertz, Thomas Partey and Jorginho, all of whom have questions marks over their long-term suitablity to the role.

Havertz' future looks to be at striker, Partey can be brilliant, but is injury-prone and erratic. Jorginho is a key member of the squad, but cannot play every game.

As such, Mikel Arteta and Edu are set to spend big to complete their world-class midfield. Bruno Guimaraes and Martin Zubimendi have both been linked, but some experts think Neves could be better than both.

But with an £86m release clause for Neves, the Gunners may think that someone like Guimaraes is a safer bet.

Guimaraes has been linked as part of a double swoop that could see Isak follow him south to the capital – Photo by Icon Sport

The case for Man Utd

While Neves would surely pick Arsenal over Manchester United in the current climate, he'd have a guaranteed starting XI berth, with Casemiro's days in a United shirt surely numbered.

Casemiro has looked off the pace in a Man Utd shirt for a while now, so much so that former Liverpool central defender now Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher heavily criticised his horror performance in Man Utd's 4-0 humiliation at Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Monday Night Football.

Carragher even went as far as to claim that the Brazilian “needs to call it a day” at the top level. In stark contrast, Neves has been a steady performer for Benfica this season, so much so that they have trusted him with the joint-most league appearances in the squad at the tender age of just 19.

Casemiro really struggled against Palace on Monday – Photo by Icon Sport

Comparing his stats to Casemiro in the Premier League, Neves has scored two more goals and averaged more interceptions, key passes, dribbles, crosses, long balls and through balls per game, as well as completing more passes at a better success rate.

Crucially, Neves is also a whole 13 years younger than Casemiro. If a youngster of such prowess can gel with other starlets like Alejandro Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo and Rasmus Hojlund, the Red Devils could start to build an exciting young team for the future – a squad that might be dubbed the ‘Class of '24' if success is forthcoming.

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Adam Clancy

Adam is a lead writer on Football Whispers. He is a big Arsenal fan, and also follows his local club Wealdstone, made famous by The Wealdstone Raider, of whom he has interviewed. Adam also follows darts, boxing, cricket and tennis, among many other sports.