Arsenal now want to sign Neves as Zubimendi prefers to stay in Spain

Arsenal have identified Benfica wonderkid Joao Neves as an alternative to Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi.

The Gunners are in the market for a new defensive midfielder and have been constantly linked with Zubimendi, who is hugely admired by manager Mikel Arteta.

The Spaniard currently has a release clause worth £51 million in his contract, but he has shown no desire to consider a move away from his boyhood club.

Zubimendi is reportedly the priority midfield target for the Gunners (Record – page 9), but the 25-year-old ‘prefers to continue’ in Spain next season.

The London giants have identified Neves as their alternative, but the club are aware that Benfica won’t enter negotiations for a transfer fee lower than £85m.

Neves would be a statement signing for Arsenal

The 19-year-old had a brilliant full campaign with Benfica last term. He completed 90 percent of his passes and had a long-ball accuracy of around 70 percent.

He was also superb defensively with an average of six duels and two tackles won per appearance.

The Portuguese, who has been described as an ‘excellent‘ player by Bruno Fernandes, would be a much better acquisition than Zubimendi for the Gunners.

Zubimendi is vastly experienced compared to Neves, but the latter has immense potential and fits into the club’s playing style.

A deal would be more expensive, but Benfica will likely accept a long-term payment plan, unlike Sociedad, who may want the entire transfer fee upfront.

Zubimendi has shown no intention of leaving his boyhood club. Arsenal would be better off stepping up their pursuit of Neves.

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