Man Utd and Arsenal target Ruben Neves closes in on new contract after Wolves seal record £42m Matheus Nunes transfer

WOLVES have struck gold with their club record £42.2 million capture of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Matheus Nunes, subject to a medical.

But there could also be a silver-lining to follow as his Portugal international team-mate Ruben Neves edges closer to pledging his long-term future to the Molineux club.

Nunes' move to Wolves is subject to a medical

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Nunes’ move to Wolves is subject to a medicalCredit: AFP
Neves is close to pledging his future to Wolves

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Neves is close to pledging his future to WolvesCredit: Getty

Nunes’ decision to join Bruno Lage’s Portuguese colony in the Midlands could prove to be the tipping point in Wolves’ negotiations to agree a new contract with Neves.

The Molineux icon is said to be thrilled by the coup Lage has just pulled off and the prospect of teaming up with his international teammate, who has been tipped to take the Premier League by storm.

You don’t have to take Neves or even Bruno Lage’s word for just how good Nunes is.

As far as public endorsements go it doesn’t get much better than a five-star rating from one of his many admirers…. Pep Guardiola.

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Manchester City had just spanked Sporting 5-0 in their own Jose Alvalade Stadium in a Champions’ League last 16 qualifier last February when Guardiola graciously gave Nunes his stellar seal of approval.

He had seen enough of the 23-year-old midfielder, even in defeat, to heap praise on the Rio-born Portuguese international.

Guardiola enthused afterwards: “Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world today.

“Nunes is one of the best at the moment.”

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In fact Wolves’ new boy might have ended up at City, alongside Kevin De Bruyne, if Bernardo Silva had left for Barcelona this summer.

Instead, Wolves pulled off a stunning coup to land a prodigious talent, who has also been linked with Liverpool, Manchester United (isn’t everyone?), Newcastle United (ditto), Everton and West Ham.

Having agreed personal terms, all that remains is for Nunes to successfully complete his Wolves medical and obtain his work permit, which should be a formality, before preparing for a baptism of fire against Tottenham.

It’s likely Nunes will feature in this Saturday’s lunchtime showdown – whether that’s from the start or from the bench – will depend on how quickly he integrates after a week of hectic activity.

If he does take to the pitch Wolves fans will be licking their lips at the superstar now in their midst.

TOWERING MIDFIELDER

At 6ft tall, Nunes towers above his fellow Portuguese internationals Neves and Joao Moutinho and he offers something totally different in his playing style too.

While Wolves’ long-term pair love to ping the ball all over the pitch, Nunes loves to dribble and has the ability to turn defense into attack with his surging runs.

He is an accomplished box-to-box midfielder who thrives in the hurly burly of the midfield battlefield, where he sees plenty of the ball.

He had more touches last season than any of his Sporting midfield partners and won more duels than them too.

Despite being defensively sound, Nunes loves to play on the front foot and is capable of killer precision passes through the lines to Wolves’ frontmen.

He has the skill to pick Premier League defensive locks and, despite leaving Rio for Portugal at 13, he has retained his Samba flair.

If you give the athletic midfielder an inch he’ll run a mile as he looks to support his forwards.

But you don’t impress Pep without being able to pass the ball and it is Nunes’ short and long passing game that makes him so hard to contain.

He is a master of all the midfield arts, playing short when he has to, long when it’s on, and he can run opponents into the ground if they let him.

If he continues on his current trajectory, Wolves could easily double their money on the 23-year-old who has agreed a five-year deal with the club, as his all-action style is perfectly suited to the Prem.

Nunes was a late developer, and Sporting only paid Estoril a bargain £500,000 for their 20-year-old midfielder in 2018-19.

He only made 12 starts in Sporting’s title winning season two years ago but started 28 of 30 matches last season, plus six more in the Champions’ League.

STATEMENT OF INTENT

In truth he should be playing for a Champions League club.

So make no mistake, this is a major statement of intent from Wolves owners Fosun, after a couple of underwhelming transfer windows which did little to set supporters’ pulses racing.

Nunes’ arrival has changed all that and could have a significant knock-on effect as the mood at Molineux suddenly changes dramatically – with one massive bonus on the horizon.

Wolves fans have been braced all summer for the departure of one of their favorite Portuguese sons, after Neves appeared to pay them an emotional farewell after his final home game of last season.

Following Wolves’ 1-1 draw with Norwich City, a tearful Neves waved to fans, in what was assumed to be his farewell ahead of an expected move to Barcelona or Manchester United over the summer.

However with both of those basket-case clubs lurching from one crisis to another, Wolves suddenly looks a far better bet for Neves again.

SunSport can reveal talks between Neves and Wolves over a new contract are continuing, with Molineux sources increasingly confident their midfield talisman will stay.

Nunes’ arrival could be the decisive factor as Neves expects to partner his new team-mate in Qatar this summer.

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Wolves were already sold on Nunes long before he ran the show against them in a pre-season friendly in Portugal in July.

Spurs may be about to face a much stiffer test when a re-energized Wolves roll up for Saturday’s lunchtime showdown.

Guardiola described Nunes as 'one of the best'

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Guardiola described Nunes as ‘one of the best’Credit: Reuters
Wolves could double their money on Nunes in a few years

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Wolves could double their money on Nunes in a few yearsCredit: Getty
Nunes in action against Wolves in pre-season

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Nunes in action against Wolves in pre-seasonCredit: Getty

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