Liverpool join transfer race for 19y/o ‘laboratory weapon’; release clause could hit £128m – report

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According to reports from Portugal, Liverpool have thrown their name into the ring for a highly coveted teenage talent.

The print edition of O Jogo claimed (via Sport Witness) that the Reds have ‘joined the race’ to sign Benfica midfielder Joao Neves, who’s also been linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

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The 19-year-old currently has a release clause of €120m (£103m) in his contract at the Estadio da Luz, although his employers are reportedly seeking to increase this by 25% to an eye-watering €150m (£128m).

There’s no mention of offers being tabled or even talks being entered into in the report, so the interest appears to be at a preliminary stage.

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O Jogo’s report described Neves as a ‘laboratory weapon’, such is his burgeoning talent, and a closer look at his performance metrics would suggest that he already boasts a phenomenal skill set.

As per FBref, he ranks among the top 20% of midfielders in Europe over the past year for a range of attributes, most notably passes attempted (79.7 per match, 98th percentile), blocks made (two per game, 97th percentile), tackles won (three per match, 92nd percentile) and pass completion (88%, 91st percentile).

The teenager has already played 66 times for Benfica’s first team (Transfermarkt), and he could potentially line out against Liverpool in a few weeks’ time if both sides come through their respective Europa League quarter-finals, which’d then see them come face-to-face in the last four of the tournament.

There’s the potential for an intriguing narrative if the Reds are to appoint Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim as their next manager, and he in turn raids his current club’s arch-rivals for the precocious Neves.

While any transfer for the 19-year-old won’t materialise for some time yet, his name could be well worth keeping an eye on during the run-in to this season, especially if he finds himself playing at Anfield in a European semi-final in four weeks’ time.

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