Newcastle United target makes mockery of Premier League vote as transfer talk snubbed

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Ruben Neves only mentioned Arsenal and Barcelona when discussing previous transfer links

Ruben Neves has omitted Newcastle United from the list of clubs interested in him last summer. Throughout the off-season and in the build-up to the January transfer window, reports claimed the Magpies were eyeing up Neves. His Wolverhampton Wanderers contract had one year left to run - triggering interest from across Europe.

Controversially, he joined Saudi Pro League club Al-Hilal for £47million only for links to Newcastle to continue. A possible loan move was mooted - provoking debate about whether that should be allowed as the Public Investment Fund own both clubs.

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The Magpies were at the peak of their injury crisis and the thought of an easy escape route infuriated rival supporters. Premier League outfits voted against bans on loan deals between clubs with shared owners in November.

Manchester City have a portfolio of clubs around the world but, on a lesser scale, the likes of Manchester United and Nice, Chelsea and Strasbourg, Nottingham Forest and Rio Ave, West Ham and Sparta Prague and more. A fresh vote last month tightened the screw on “associated-party transactions” - mainly focused on sponsorship deals. Toon CEO Darren Eales revealed in January there was “no intention” from Newcastle to loan players from PIF-owned clubs.

That appeared to bury any doubts that the Magpies could swoop for former Wolves star Neves. Speaking to Portuguese outlet O Jogo, the midfielder only mentioned Arsenal and Barcelona as interested parties - while insisting he is happy in the Gulf state.

"I feel no difference between Saudi and European leagues,” Neves said. “I’m not planning to return soon. Saudi Arabia can have one of the best leagues in the world within two years. The quality of players joining here is excellent, it looks like PlayStation!

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"Last summer I was close to joining three European clubs then it didn’t happen. Barcelona was something really concrete. It was very close. To be honest, it was the same for Arsenal deal. It was very advanced then collapsed."

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