It’s already been a summer of upheaval at Wolves with Nuno Espirito Santo and first-choice goalkeeper Rui Particio both heading for the Molineux exit door – and it looks like there could be more to follow.
Ruben Neves continues to be courted by both Manchester United and Arsenal, Leeds have reignited their interest in Adama Traore – as exclusively revealed by 90min recently – and now they’re contemplating offloading star man Pedro Neto.
The former Lazio man isn’t expected to return to full fitness until later this year having suffered a knee injury against Fulham in April, though his plight has done little to deter Liverpool, Tottenham and Juventus – who have all been alerted by news of his possible availability.
With such a stellar cast of teams interested in securing the Portugal international’s signature, we’ve taken a look at exactly what Neto could bring to his potential suitors…
The diminutive Neto is a nightmare to defend against when he squares up to a man and his low centre of gravity means he’s able to wriggle away from players in even the tightest of spaces.
Despite being predominantly left footed, Neto can play on either the left or the right, but his ability to run with the ball at speed means he tends to look at his most dangerous on the left. Prolific frontman Raul Jimenez has been a regular beneficiary of Neto’s seamless ability to glide past players before picking out a pinpoint cross, yet he also looks equally as comfortable cutting inside before taking on a shot himself.
Given his adaptability, Neto would be a great addition to most squads as he’d offer managers cover on both wings and also possesses the technical ability to play slightly behind a striker.
It’s probably a bit of a given considering the qualities we’ve already outlined, but Neto truly looks at his best when he’s in and around the area.
Whenever his side are in possession he’s constantly on the move looking to create himself a yard of space in the box, and a number of his goals since moving to the Premier League have seen him dart in from the wing before connecting with a teammate’s cross having evaded the opposition’s defence.
Prior to their slump last season, a lot of Wolves’ success was built on a frontline spearheaded by Jimenez with pacey wingers interchanging and looking to play off him, and Neto was undoubtedly a key part of their attack.
Neto’s goalscoring stats are improving year on year and last season he stood up to be counted when Wolves needed him most.
Following the shocking head injury picked up by Jimenez in November, Nuno’s side desperately needed their wide players to chip in with more goals. While it may not seem a dazzling tally, no Wolves player managed more than Neto’s five Premier League strikes in the 2020/21 season.
Not only can Neto score goals, he’s also a creative force, again topping the charts for Wolves last season with six Premier League assists. They may not be eye-watering figures but given he was playing in a largely off-colour side, they’re very impressive.
Who knows how much closer to the drop Wolves could have been with him.
One of the most appealing things about a move for Neto is he’s got a lot of time to develop.
There are still areas of his game which are a little rough and there’s certainly things he can improve on, but there’s no denying the raw talent in his boots. At 21 he’s already been capped on three occasions by Portugal – despite Fernando Santos boasting an embarrassment of riches in the forward positions – and he even grabbed a goal on his debut against Andorra back in 2019.
His career stats alone will tell you Neto is constantly improving, and if he continues to develop at the rate he has over the past few seasons he’ll be a real force to be reckoned with. Were it not for injury, he’d have probably been at Euro 2020.
As mentioned, there are still areas of Neto’s game that need to be improved.
First of all there’s his discipline. In certain ways the youngster has a very mature head on his shoulders – refusing to hide when things got tough last season and almost single-handedly dragging them away from a relegation dog fight. However, he’s no stranger to a yellow card and he needs to try and cool his fiery temper.
There’s also his work off the ball. On paper Neto looks a perfect signing for someone like Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool given he can cover both wings and considering the success of former teammate Diogo Jota at Anfield, but he doesn’t work anywhere near hard enough to make it at Liverpool.
In fairness, the two main points he needs to work on are very similar – it all comes down to discipline. It’s no surprise to hear some of Europe’s elite clubs are chasing Neto’s signature, and a move away from Wolves this summer wouldn’t be a complete surprise despite his current injury.