Ruben Neves is quickly eliminating any doubt that remained over the notion that he is a Champions League calibre midfielder playing for Wolverhampton. Again, he was superb on the weekend as Wolves left it late to earn a 1-0 victory away to West Ham United.
There is no better player in the league on current form at tying everything his team does from deep in midfield like the Portuguese international. At the London Stadium, he completed 10 of his 12 long pass attempts – the second time he has completed 10 in a match this season.
The 30 long passes he has completed in four matches is more than any other outfielder in the league, with the next best being Harry Maguire on 26. Not only that, Neves was tidy playing short too, completing 67 of his 74 passes.
“We are playing against the best in the world. For many of our players it is their first year in the Premier League. So we have to be calm. We have to think game by game, and do everything we can to put Wolves as high as we can.”
While at times it looked like West Ham were trying to send Felipe Anderson to try to close the 21-year-old down, their pressing efforts were neither consistent enough nor arranged properly to nullify the threat he poses from deep.
Neves was also very active off the ball in this game, completing three of his four tackles. One of his tackles was a match-winning one.
With the game heading towards a draw – deep in stoppage time – and West Ham in possession, Neves moved to pressure Carlos Sanchez. Then, sensing a lose touch, Neves nipped in to win the ball – setting up a chain of events that ended with Adama Traore running into a paddock of grass behind West Ham’s defensive line and tucking home smartly. For Neves, it was a tackle as good as many of the assists he will make this season.