Ruben Neves

Ruben Neves
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Ruben Diogo da Silva Neves

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Current Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Previous Clubs: Porto.

Loan Clubs: N/A.

International: Portugal 26caps.

Trophies Won: UEFA Nations League 2019.

In the Championship, Neves stood out as head and shoulders above everyone else at that level and looked sure to be a star in the Premier League too. Since then he has struggled to up his game sufficiently to be a stand out, though this season there have been signs of a large step forward.

It is difficult to judge whether his improvement is down to himself, the change of system under the new coach or a combination of the two. In my opinion, from watching him play, it is the change of coach and system of play that is mostly to thank for his improvement.

Under Nuno Espirito Santo in the Premier League, he was stifled, asked to play a very defensive role and now he is being given a lot more freedom. That is something that Neves badly needed, as he is at his best when he is further up the pitch and able to use his powerful and accurate shot from the edge of the box.

Added to that, Neves has a very good range of passing and the vision to spot runs, which are much more threatening in those higher areas. I can understand the thinking behind Nuno's decision to play him deeper, other than Nuno's natural negativity, as Neves does lack mobility and is not likely to be able work back quickly if needed.

It is not he is not going to try and get back, simply that he lacks the legs to keep up with fast breaks. Neves reads the game well enough to make up for that in large part and so I personally believe the risks are worth it in his case, as the potential rewards of having him around the edge of the box are so high.

That reading of the game is why he was able to make the defensive role work, to a degree at least, as Neves could often be in the right place to pick off a pass or block a run. But that lack of mobility does hold him back from playing a box-to-box role, as he is mostly going to end up caught too far forward or not able to keep up with play.

For me he is better forward, his tackling is decent, he is strong and powerful, but his weakness in the air and lack of mobility really hold him back in a more defensive role. Neves is a playmaker and is better with freedom to wander around and be where he can do most damage, whether with a pass or shot.

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