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Romano reveals why Arsenal did not sign Ruben Neves

According to respected journalist Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal decided against a move for Al Hilal midfielder Ruben Neves last summer after it emerged that Thomas Partey would be staying.

The Portuguese star was linked with both Barcelona and Arsenal during the 2023 summer transfer window and he recently confirmed in an interview that he was close to joining them.

In an exclusive for Caught OffsideRomano has now revealed that talks were less advanced on the Gunners side. They asked his agent about a move, but ended talks due to Partey staying.

He said: “Ruben Neves has admitted that he has the chance to stay in Europe this summer before moving to Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, saying that things got very advanced with both Barcelona and Arsenal. To clarify what this means here, Barcelona had an agreement with Neves on personal terms.”

“Arsenal asked his agent about a potential move, but it was less advanced than Barca. In the end, it didn’t happen because Wolves only wanted to sell for a fee in excess of €40m and the best proposal was from Al Hilal. The money was the issue – it was impossible for Barcelona to complete with this offer, and Arsenal decided to leave talks as it emerged that Thomas Partey would be staying.”

Missed opportunity

Neves was widely tipped to join an elite European club last summer, having been a fantastic performer for Wolves in the Premier League. Barcelona were touted as his favourite destination by many while Arsenal were also mentioned as probable contenders to land his signature.

However, neither club took the chance to sign the £47 million star and he ended up at Al-Hilal. Barcelona could not spend on a marquee defensive midfielder due to their Financial Fair Play issues. They re-signed Oriol Romeu for a nominal fee last summer, but Andreas Christensen is currently their preferred choice in the no.6 role.

Arsenal were hoping to partner Partey with record signing Declan Rice in midfield with the latter playing higher up in a central role. Their plan has not worked out with Partey being injured for almost the entire campaign. Neves would have been a good signing, but Jorginho and Kai Havertz have done a credible job alongside Rice.

Neves missed the opportunity to continue his career in the Premier League with Arsenal, but the Gunners won’t be disappointed. Partey is expected to return from his thigh injury soon and could have a big part to play in the season run-in. They could replace the Ghanaian with a younger holding midfielder such as Amadou Onana.

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