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Ruben Neves confirms he was close to Barcelona, Arsenal moves

:Headline: Ruben Neves confirms he was close to Barcelona, Arsenal moves:
Ruben Neves confirms that he was close to joining either Barcelona or Arsenal before he eventually left Wolverhampton Wanderers for Al-Hilal in the summer.
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Al-Hilal midfielder Ruben Neves has revealed that he came close to joining Barcelona or Arsenal before making the switch to the Middle East.

Between 2017 and 2023, Neves enjoyed a legendary stint with Wolverhampton Wanderers, making 253 appearances in all competitions and helping transform the West Midlands outfit into an established Premier League club.

However, during the latter stages of his time at Molineux, Neves made no secret of his desire for a new challenge amid speculation from elsewhere.

Wolves were open to cashing in on the Portugal international, respecting the service that he had given the club, but a realistic offer did not arrive from a European club.

Instead, the 26-year-old signed for Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal in the summer for a £47m fee, agreeing a three-year contract in the process.

As it stands, the move has proven to be a success as Al-Hilal are unbeaten in the Saudi Pro League and sit top of the table by seven points, while they have also reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League.

Neves has spoken positively about his experiences with Al-Hilal, indicating that he plans to spend at least two more seasons at the club.

Nevertheless, in an interview with O Jogo, Neves has acknowledged that he was left "saddened" when he was unable to sign for either Barcelona or Arsenal.

He said: "I was close to three clubs and it didn't happen, which saddened me and helped me make the decision to go to Al Hilal.

"I didn't want to put names forward, but Barcelona was one of the hottest and it wasn't a lie. It was close to happening, just like with Arsenal.

"Then there was another club outside England. It was events that piled up and then, with this golden opportunity [to sign for Al Hilal], I had no hesitation in accepting. I was already calloused with transfers that don't happen."

Barcelona were unable to meet Wolves' asking price due to their well-documented financial issues, while there were suggestions that Xavi preferred alternative midfield options at the time.

Meanwhile, Arsenal opted to spend in excess of £100m to secure a deal for West Ham United's Declan Rice rather than try to sign Neves for half the price. body check tags ::

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Arsenal34245582265677
2Liverpool33228375324374
3Manchester CityMan City32227376324473
4Aston Villa34206871502166
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs32186865491660
6Newcastle UnitedNewcastle321551269521750
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd32155124748-150
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham34139125463-948
9Chelsea32138116157447
10Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton321111105250244
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33127144653-743
12Fulham34126165054-442
13Bournemouth33119134860-1242
14Crystal Palace3399154256-1436
15Brentford3498175259-735
16Everton33108153448-1430
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3479184260-1826
18Luton TownLuton3467214775-2825
19Burnley3458213769-3223
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3337233188-5716
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