Neves joins Saudi's Al-Hilal for club record £47m


Ruben Neves of Portugal ahead of the the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying Round Group J match between Iceland and Portugal at Laugardalsvollur on June 20, 2023 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Wolves have sold captain Ruben Neves to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal for a club record £47m.

The 26-year-old Portugal midfielder had a year left on his contract and leaves after six seasons at Molineux.

Neves is the latest big-name player to leave a European club for Saudi Arabia’s Pro League.

Earlier this month Karim Benzema left Real Madrid for Al-Ittihad, joining former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo who signed for Al-Nassr in January.

Midfielder N’Golo Kante agreed a deal to leave Chelsea and join France team-mate Benzema at Al-Ittihad earlier this week.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is also close to signing for Saudi Pro-League side Al Ahli while Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva is a target for Al-Hilal.

Neves said at the end of last season he was ambitious amid interest from Barcelona, but with the La Liga champions not able to come up with an acceptable offer Neves opted for Saudi Arabia.

The fee paid by Al-Hilal surpasses the £41m that Wolves received for Diogo Jota when he switched to Liverpool in 2020.

It is also the biggest transfer fee paid by a Saudi Pro League side, dwarfing the reported 18m euro (£15.4m) deal that took Matheus Pereira from West Brom to Al-Hilal in 2021.

Neves, who helped Wolves gain promotion from the Championship in 2017-18 and then consolidate in the Premier League, described his time at Molineux as “an unbelievable journey” in an open letter to the club’s supporters.

He added: “The way we worked together, the way we fought for the club, what we achieved and all the moments we spent together was unbelievable.

“There are no words to describe our dressing room, with a team spirit that I’ve never experienced before. And then to become captain for the final year made me so proud.

“My kids grew up in Wolverhampton and they were so happy here. Me and my lovely wife will never forget the time we had here as a family.”

During his time at the West Midlands club, Neves made 253 appearances and scored 30 goals after joining from Porto in 2017.

Wolves sporting director Matt Hobbs described Neves as one of Wolves’ best ever players.

“Ruben is the embodiment of everything you look for when trying to bring players into a football club; a leader, a humble man and an extremely talented footballer who took Wolves to a different level,” he said.

“He was part of a great era for this club and will go down as one of our best ever players. We are grateful for everything he has done for Wolves and wish him and his family the very best for the future.”

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