Manchester United target Joao Neves has been backed to shine in the Premier League when he decides to pursue a bigger challenge away from Benfica.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in the Primeira Liga and he was on the radar of the Red Devils during the summer transfer window.
A deal did not materialise but United scouts are likely to keep tabs on the teenager, who has now become a mainstay for the Portuguese giants in the number six role.
In an interview with O Jogo, his former trainer Luis Castro said that Neves will cost much more the €25m fee that was paid by Benfica to sign Orkun Kokcu this summer.
The Portuguese added that the youngster is already a ‘complete and very intelligent player’ and he has no doubts that Neves could play and shine in the Premier League.
He said: “My friends ask me if Kokcu cost 25 million euros, how much will Joao Neves cost. He will be worth much more than €25 million. (He can) play in any championship in the world. (He’s) a complete and very intelligent player.”
“The Premier League is the best league in the world, and not only would he be able to adapt, but he would also play and shine. Knowing Joao, I think he is not worried about the next step but about the next game. He had good training at Benfica, but at family level he also had a lot of support.
“He is very focused. I believe that if and when he takes the leap he will be prepared. He started training with the A team around the time of the World Cup because they needed him, and I told my technical team that we probably wouldn’t see him again. I knew his quality and his way of working.”
Neves has had a fantastic beginning to the campaign for Benfica. He has started in six of their seven matches in all competitions and has been one of their best performers.
The Portuguese wonderkid has completed 91 per cent of his passes this term with nearly five long balls per game. He has won an impressive 63 per cent of his duels.
The 18-year-old has the potential to go right to the top. United are one of the clubs tracking him, and could make an approach during next summer’s transfer window.
The Red Devils recently signed Sofyan Amrabat on loan with an option to buy, but there is room for a young number six, who could be a long-term successor for Casemiro.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com