24 Oct 2015

Klopp to sign 'extraordinary' £29m star? Boss responds to Liverpool rumours; confirms deal is a no-go

Reports this week claim that Liverpool are in 'pole-position' to sign Porto captain Ruben Neves, who is allegedly one of Jurgen Klopp's top transfer targets. On Tuesday, Neves became the youngest player to ever captain a Champions League team, and he'll obviously be in demand, but is there any real possibility of the Reds sealing a deal?

According to The Independent this week:

"Liverpool are leading the chase to sign Porto wonderkid Ruben Neves. LFC had sent scouts to watch the player [against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday]. The Reds are in pole-position to sign the player, who they have been scouting for some time".

Today, Sky Sports added:

"[Neves] is reportedly a target for some of the top clubs in Europe, including Liverpool, who sent scouts to watch him on Wednesday as he became the youngest-ever captain in the Champions League".

When asked on Thursday evening about the possibility of Neves signing for Liverpool, Porto president Pinto da Costa told ESPN:

"I never want him to leave FC Porto. I hope that he stays for many years. Ruben has a contract until 2019, and we would like to keep him at the club...so he can be Porto's greatest captain".

Porto have a history of selling young players for big bucks, so I doubt the club will be able to keep hold of Neves in the long-term, especially with his stock rising all the time.

What type of player is Neves, who has a £29m release clause in his contract? Here are some descriptions of his playing style:

* Profile on UEFA.com describes Neves as follows: "Passing precision, vision and astute positioning. Great maturity. Defensive midfielder [but] shows no fear in getting forward, leading attacks and trying to score".

* Team-mate Cristian Tello's view: "Neves is fantastic with the ball, has great positioning on the field, and is aggressive, with a good job. He plays very much like Sergio Busquets".

* Porto B coach Luis Castro's assessment: "We talk about technical and tactical talent, but Neves has extraordinary mental talents. He's a player who sees the game with an extraordinary calmness and know what the game needs."

* Former Porto defensive midfielder Rodolfo Reis is also a fan. In a recent interview, he enthused: "He is a player who is achieving everything very quickly but with merit. The coach has helped a lot, relying on him, not only in one position but in several. And he has responded."

Having Jurgen Klopp at the helm will hopefully make it easier for Liverpool to attract highly-rated players, but in my view, it's madness to spend £30m+ on an 18-year old. Where's the fire? Are the Reds so desperate that the club's only hope for significant improvement is to sign a teenager with next to no experience?

Or course not. Klopp has a history of developing cheap players into world-beaters (Kagawa, Hummels, Lewandowski and Gundogan = €12m combined transfer fee), and given time, I'm sure he'll be able to do something similar at Anfield.


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