Chelsea are reportedly planning a bid for Porto defensive midfielder Ruben Neves next summer after the youngster helped his side defeat the Blues in the Champions League this week.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho has been sending scouts to scope out the 18-year-old for some time, and after their positive reports following Porto’s 2-1 win over Chelsea, the west London club are plotting a bid for Neves.
Mourinho badly needs to strengthen his side’s midfield, which he has identified as a weakness this campaign. Last season, the dynamic duo of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic in defensive midfield were in top form; now, Mourinho has found himself too reliant on the pair, who have both under-performed time and time again.
Chelsea’s first choice target remains Paul Pogba from Juventus; however, they failed to secure the Frenchman over the summer and fear he has already decided to join Barcelona next season. Neves, rated at £29 million, is a much cheaper option and could provide necessary depth to Chelsea’s struggling midfield.
However, there are a couple of issues with the move for Neves. One is the problem of playing time; specifically, if the Portuguese youngster, who only made his professional debut last season, will receive any.
Although Mourinho is usually reticent to hand younger players minutes, his frustration with the established players and Chelsea’s current midfield situation has seen him give game time to 19-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek in place of Matic so far this season, and other youngsters in other positions as well. Even though it is virtually assured that Neves won’t play a prominent role for the Blues should he join next season, he may very well be given chances here and there to dip his toes into some Premier League football.
The next issue that arises is the £29 million release clause, a hefty fee for a teenager. Chelsea may be willing to pay large sums of money for players like Pogba, who would no doubt begin making his impact on the pitch right away, but it might not be so wise for the club to pay so much for a younger player who will sit the bench.
However, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures, and if Chelsea’s losses continue against Southampton on Saturday and in Europe next week, the club may be desperate enough to act.