Man Utd could sign dream Mainoo parner in £100m star

There have been very few positives for Erik ten Hag to focus on this season.

The campaign can be summed up by the fact that Manchester United are currently seventh in the Premier League after 21 dreary games.

Therefore, the boss will be desperate to strengthen his squad after a campaign that has been rather arduous to say the least.

Man United have been on the lookout for a midfielder recently, and according to The Mirror, they’re interested in signing Joao Neves.

The Benfica star has a £103m release clause in his contract at Benfica, with United set to begin talks with the club soon.


However, due to the huge fee attached, a move is much more likely to occur in the summer than this month.

How Neves could benefit Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo has burst onto the scene this season, excelling in a poor United midfield. Despite playing just ten matches overall in 2023/24, his quality has even led to Athletic reporter Adam Crafton saying he could make the England squad for this year’s European Championship.

Neves has had a similar path to first-team football as Mainoo, as this season he has become a key player for Benfica. The Portuguese star is only 19 years old himself, but he has played every Liga Portugal match this season.

Although the 18-year-old has been a game-changer for the Red Devils, the entire function of the midfield relies on him, therefore, the potential signing of Neves could allow Mainoo to flourish even further.


Neves’ supreme passing statistics (seen below) outline him as the very definition of a controller who takes on heaps of responsibility on the ball. The teenager sets the tempo for his side, but his vision allows him to progress the play with ease, which makes him like Luka Modric, as per Football Talent Scout Jacek Kulig.

Joao Neves: Liga Nos 2023/24

Stats (per 90)


Ranking in Portugal among CMs

Passes completed


Top 4%

Progressive passes


Top 16%

Passes into final third


Top 9%



Top 2%

Successful take-ons


Top 8%

Tackles (Att third)

3.04 (0.80)

Top 6% (Top 1%)

Ball recoveries


Top 1%

Stats via FBref

Mainoo is also similar to this, as shown by his 86 touches and 90% pass completion against Wigan in the FA Cup. A midfield two of Neves and the United number 37 would retain the ball extremely well while also providing progression and bravery, therefore taking the pressure off the Englishman to do all of the above himself.

The Benfica youth star is press-resistant and has the ability to evade opponents due to his small stature, however, he is also a tenacious tackler who loves to get stuck in. The very fact he ranks within the top 1% of midfield players in Portugal for tackles in the final third says it all. He’s an extremely proactive player who leads the press, and his out-of-possession security would enable Mainoo to showcase his attacking creativity, which he has yet to fully show.

It’s clear just how the potential signing of Neves could unlock Mainoo’s full potential. This may well be an extremely exciting young duo stepping foot at Old Trafford soon.

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