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Manchester United join the race for Ruben Neves

Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves

Bengaluru, September 10: Manchester United have not started the season well and the manager Jose Mourinho is under a huge amount of pressure already making him the second favourite in the sack race just after West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini.

However, the Old Trafford hierarchy are believed to be ready to back their manager strongly in January to strengthen the squad.

The Red Devils have been strongly linked by the English media with a move for Wolverhampton Wanderers midfield dynamo Ruben Neves who is also being monitored by their cross-town rivals Manchester City.

Reports last month claimed that Pep Guardiola is keeping tabs on the Wolves golden boy, 21 and has stepped up his scouting in recent weeks. And if the City chief does decide to make a move for the £60million-rated midfielder when the window opens, Jose Mourinho is ready to go head to head.

Mourinho is a big admirer and has followed Neves’ progress closely, but he was willing to wait and see how he copes with the Premier League before making a move next summer.

Those plans could now be brought forward six months, with City insiders convinced Guardiola will make a bid in January after missing out to Chelsea on Jorginho in July.

That would see a repeat of last winter’s battle between them for Alexis Sanchez, which eventually was won by the red half of Manchester.

Neves, dubbed the Portuguese Andrea Pirlo, is a Porto graduate and shares Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.

Wolves’ wealthy Chinese owners are not desperate to sell so that means any deal would likely allow him to stay put for the rest of the season.

Guardiola, meanwhile, has his agent brother Pere trying to broker a deal for Real Betis defender Junior Firpo, as back-up for Benjamin Mendy.

Firpo, 22, has only just signed an extension until 2023 with a daunting £54m release clause.

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    Story first published: Monday, September 10, 2018, 9:58 [IST]
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