Can This Portuguese Star Emulate The Heights Touched By Xabi Alonso At Liverpool?

The 2015/2016 season saw the Reds swap Brendan Rodgers for Jurgen Klopp and reach two finals in the process. Klopp could have easily finished the first season with some silverware but the team couldn’t quite find fifth gear in both the League Cup and Europa League finals. Finishing 8th in the league however on a total of 60 points was below par for the Reds. Signing Jurgen Klopp as their manager, was the real victory of the season. It’s possibly the best thing the club did this season. Next season, in particular, is going to be very crucial and Liverpool will definitely be challenging for the title due to the presence of genius Klopp, who can now get new players and have his preferred playing style.

The final of the Europa League summed up their season brilliantly, one half they were lethal and the next half the whole team was in shambles. There were quite a few players who benefitted massively from the managerial change such as Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and others. Although the season as whole might have been disappointing in terms of final success but it did have some brilliant performances, which was just a glimpse what might come this season. Liverpool have already brought in Sadio Mane from Southampton and are being increasingly linked with Porto midfielder Ruben Neves.

The 18 year old striker has been brilliant for Porto since moving up ranks last year, he capped of a man of the match performance with a debut goal, while becoming the youngest ever player to start a league game for Porto. He then went on to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of the youngest-ever Portuguese footballer to play in Europe’s foremost club competition.

A fact that recently, Neves was handed the captain’s armband by manager Julen Lopetegui without much fan fare, who how naturally he has cemented his place in Porto’s starting XI.

Neves has an excellent positional sense, great vision and speed of thought, as well as just the right amount of controlled aggression. When it comes to his passing range he has often been compared to Xabi Alonso, someone who became the foundation of the Liverpool team during his stay at Anfield. Just 19 still, Neves has some limitation to his game, one big weakness that strikes out his physicality, he is often bullied of the ball and drifts in and out of games. That’s one advantage that Alonso had as he moved to the Premier League at the age of 23, by when he was much further physically developed.

It is always easy to go overboard about a young player, expecting them to become world class will be unfair given they are still in their teens, but Neves looks the real deal. Whether Liverpool would be able to compete with some of Europe’s financial powerhouses remains to be seen, but if they did manage to acquire his signature in the summer it would be a major coup.

Written by Anurag Singh

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