In an unexpected move, Ruben Neves left Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer to join Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League for a substantial £47 million transfer fee. This decision marked a surprising twist in his career.
Neves initially arrived at Wolves during their Championship campaign in 2017 under Nuno Espírito Santo’s management, and the team swiftly achieved promotion to the Premier League by amassing an impressive 99 points under the Portuguese coach. In the Premier League, Neves continued to make a significant impact with his stellar performances.
Throughout five top-flight seasons at Molineux, Neves played in all but 13 Premier League matches. His consistent and high-level performances drew the attention of numerous top-tier clubs, including Manchester United, Arsenal, and Barcelona. Thus, his transfer to Al-Hilal in the summer, at the age of 26, raised eyebrows within the football community.
As he approaches the midpoint of his debut season in the Saudi Pro League, Neves’ performance in the Middle East is under scrutiny. In terms of attacking output in the league, Neves has been relatively quiet. Despite starting in all but one of Al-Hilal’s 10 league fixtures, he has yet to score a goal and has only recorded one assist, which occurred in a 4-0 away victory against Al-Raed during his third league appearance.
During this time, Neves has accumulated three yellow cards, underscoring his combative nature in midfield. Given that he consistently scored at least four goals per season for Wolves in all competitions, it is likely that he aims to find the back of the net in the league soon. Additionally, he has participated in two Asian Champions League matches, and in one instance, he did not make the squad. His contributions in these games have contributed to Al-Hilal earning seven out of nine possible points in Group D. Neves did secure his first goal for the club in the ‘King’s Cup,’ where he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Al-Jabalain.
Currently, the club from the Saudi capital is positioned at the top of the league table and remains undefeated in all competitions throughout the season as they seek to establish their dominance domestically. They are the sole team that has not suffered a loss in the first ten games of the season, with Al-Taawoun, Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli, and Al-Ittihad trailing closely behind.
Given Al-Hilal’s strong performance, Neves has an increasing likelihood of clinching silverware with his new club, marking his first club title since the memorable Championship victory in 2018. Neves signed a three-year contract with Al-Hilal when he made the transfer from Wolves in June.