Manchester United have endured a rough season under both Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so far.
And the Red Devils’ midfield has been partially responsible, with the likes of Fred, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay all blowing hot and cold.
However, if they sign Ruben Neves from Wolves, he could be Rangnick’s very own Bruno Fernandes.
Sky Sports revealed at the start of the month that United were interested in signing Neves.
The Portugal international has been a consistent performer for Wolves ever since joining from Porto, starring in both the Championship and Premier League.
He produced a midfield masterclass as Bruno Lage’s side rocked United 1-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the month, even if compatriot Joao Moutinho scored the winning goal.
And with United poised to pocket money for the loan exits of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, the club are open to adding to their squad.
Therefore, a deal for Neves isn’t out of the question.
And, if United are able to land the Portugal international, he has the potential to be as transformative a signing as Fernandes.
In the summer transfer window of 2019, Solskjaer contemplated signing the 27-year-old from Sporting Lisbon.
Fernandes’ prowess in goal made him an attractive target but, in the end, a move was discarded due to the fact he could be sloppy in position.
Then, months later, the Red Devils performed a U-turn.
United had designs on signing Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020, believing he’d be a key arrival at Old Trafford.
However, when they missed out, United proceeded to sign Fernandes from Sporting instead.
On his debut, both Fernandes and his team-mates drew a blank as they slipped to a goalless draw at home to Wolves.
Yet Fernandes then wasted no time endearing himself to his new supporters, providing an assist for Harry Maguire in a 2-0 win over Chelsea.
From that moment on, he was unplayable.
And Fernandes’ goals and assists saw United climb up the Premier League table, eventually finishing third behind only Liverpool and Manchester City.
Without him, the club would have been destined for Europa League football. Or no European football altogether.
Now, United can repeat the trick with Neves.
At £50million, he’s the priciest player on their midfield shortlist. Certainly, he’d cost more than Amadou Haidara or Boubacar Kamara.
Yet he’s worth it. Neves is a controller, a conductor, a player with the ability to make United tick.
He has the potential to be just as transformative a signing as Fernandes given the issues of Fred, Matic, McTominay, Pogba and Van de Beek this term.
And a deal could feasibly be accelerated if Van De Beek leaves on loan before the deadline, with Crystal Palace showing interest.
Wolves boss Bruno Lage, however, did recently insist that Neves was vital to the cause over at Molineux as they look to build for a brighter future.
“He’s very important, he’s a top player,” he said.
“We spoke about him six weeks ago, and I challenged him to be better every day and to grow up in the defensive way and understand he is a defensive midfielder.
“These are the goals. He knows when he is defending he cannot forget to work for the team, and when he has the ball he needs to understand the moment, because it’s the game with the ball that gives the dimension he deserves.
“He’s doing that and coming every day with the mentality to be better and have that dimension.
“I challenged him and some other players, ‘why are you not playing for your national team?’.
“We cannot forget that when we are defending we need to work for the team, but it’s the game with the ball that gives the other dimension.
“The challenge now is to continue in that way. He did very well against Chelsea and Man United. Different games with different spaces to play, and he did very well.
“I am happy because he is doing the things I want and is a good player to help the team go to the next level.”