How does transfer target Ruben Neves compare to Liverpool’s other midfield options?

Neves continues to be linked with Liverpool and he certainly fits the bill - but how does he compare to Liverpool’s current crop of midfielders?

Liverpool are in the middle of planning a midfield rebuild as they look to revamp their engine room in order to bring back the insatiable energy that drove them to many successes under Jurgen Klopp.

Players such as Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to leave on a free in the summer and it seems Klopp will be able to bring in two direct replacements in midfield as a result. One of those could the versatile, experienced and technically gifted midfielder in Ruben Neves - who could even be available in January.

His current deal expires in 18 months and reports claim he has no desire to extend his deal after five years at the club. Wolves could be looking to cash in.

Given he’s now 25, it seems a perfect time to take the next step in his career after giving absolutely everything for Wolves over his 237 appearances so far.

That being said, if he were to make the move to Anfield, how would he fit in and how does he compare to the current crop of midfielders?

How would Ruben Neves fit in at Anfield?

Neves can be described as a deep-lying playmaker and has often played as a lone defensive midfielder or in a double-pivot or midfield three. That could see him play at the base of Klopp’s 4-3-3 or to either side of a defensive midfielder (most likely Fabinho) in a role where he’d be tasked with covering more ground and helping to start and evolve attacks.

The former Porto midfielder has a wide range of attributes that would see him be a strong addition for Liverpool and he is extremely experienced for club and country and would likely not need too much adaption time should he make the move.

Furthermore, his defensive work-rate is extremely high and he often operates in deeper positions and those two things would certainly benefit Liverpool, given their current issues.

We also know his ability to strike from distance. In fact, 14 of his 17 league goals for Wolves have been from outside the box and it would certainly add an extra dimension to their attack.

How does he compare?

Considering Liverpool’s midfield has largely consisted of Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Harvey Elliot this season, we’ll use them as a yard stick for Neves. Especially considering Neves can play as a 6 or 8.

Plus, Thiago and Henderson are both over 30 years of age, and whilst age is less of a factor in the modern game, there’s no doubting that there are simply more miles on the clock for the pair in comparison to the more sprightly Neves.

In comparison to Fabinho in that defensive midfield role, he produces more tackles, clearances and interceptions per game – ranking highly in the percentiles for midfielders in Europe. On top of that, he has much more technical ability, reflected in the fact he beats out the Brazilian for non-penalty goals, shots total, dribbles completed and progressive passes.

Thiago is obviously a passing master and his stats are incredible from that standpoint, but Neves could be an alternative for the Spaniard in certain games, which could give him the much-needed rest he needs to avoid suffering regular injuries as he currently does.

In terms of the Henderson and Elliott, the latter is a very attack-minded midfielder, but offers little defensively, ranking in the 7th and 9th percentiles for tackles and interceptions and he has struggled to give Liverpool protection when playing in a midfield three.

Although, his attacking and creative stats are incredible for a player of his age and his recent goal against Neves’ side was a marker of how much he’s improved this season. It’s actually an unfair comparison as they both have different roles in midfield.

With Henderson, he too has struggled to make a true impact defensively this season – the stats show it too as he ranks very low for all the defensive metrics. He has been a key asset in driving Liverpool forward in recent years, often appearing on the right wing to cross balls in and his 5.78 progressive passes and 76 passes attempted per game reflect someone who wants to get on the ball and be positive, despite people’s general consensus that he is a limited midfielder. The progressive passes stat alone ranks him among the 94th percentile in Europe.

However, Neves undoubtedly has the bigger arsenal when it comes to passing and creativity and his four goals in the league this year is better than any other Liverpool midfielder.


Neves would bring fresh energy, experience and new dynamic to an aging midfield. His ability to play across multiple positions in different systems would be key for Klopp.

Plus, he offers cover at defensive midfield and his ability to play different roles would allow for the likes of Thiago and Fabinho to be rested more often, which should allow them to perform better when called upon and not having to play too many successive games.

With his deal running out in 18 months’ time, it could be a perfect time to strike. The Portuguese midfielder has threatened to take the step up to a big club for the last few years.