Ruben Neves: The Porto teenager interesting Liverpool and Chelsea

Image: Porto teenager Ruben Neves has reportedly drawn interest from Liverpool and Chelsea

He's the youngest-ever captain in the Champions League and has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea, but who is Ruben Neves?

The 18-year-old has already made 42 appearances for Porto's first team and has reportedly attracted interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs.

We take a look at the midfielder's background, what his strengths are and what he could offer any potential suitors…

Where has he come from?

After joining Porto at the age of eight, Neves has risen through the ranks with both club and country, setting plenty of records along the way.

His progress through the academy was so impressive that he was called up to the senior side from the Under -17s at the start of last season.

He was then named in the starting XI for Porto's opening league match of the season and, in his own words, had a "dream debut".

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Aged just 17 he netted the opening goal of the game after 11 minutes, becoming the youngest player in the club's history to score in the competition, and was given a standing ovation when he was substituted before being named man of the match.

Porto's midfielder Ruben Neves celebrates after scoring during the Portuguese league football match FC Porto vs Maritimo at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on
Image: Neves celebrates scoring on his debut against Maritimo

Just five days later he made his Champions League debut and set another record for the youngest Portuguese player to feature in the tournament.

He would go on to make 31 appearances for Porto in all competitions during the 2014/15 season.

His rise with Portugal has been just as rapid as, after captaining his country at the European Under-17 Championship in May 2014, he was soon called up to the Portuguese U21 side for the first time.

Just a year later he would feature as a sub for Portugal at the European U21 Championship as their youngest-ever player at the tournament and a senior call-up now appears to be on the horizon.

So he has caught the eye?

That would be an understatement.

A number of Europe's top clubs are said to have scouted him, with Liverpool and Juventus reportedly the latest to watch him on Tuesday when he became Porto's youngest-ever captain in the win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Porto's midfielder Ruben Neves (L) vies with Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas
Image: Neves recently played against Chelsea in the Champions League

According to the Daily Mirror, the Reds are "long-standing admirers" of the defensive midfielder and new manager Jurgen Klopp has "given his blessing to any deal".

It is also reported that Liverpool could make him the best-paid teenager in world football.

What's his contract situation?

Sensing the growing interest in Neves, last October Porto tied him down to a new contact which runs until June 2017 and includes a release clause of 40m euros.

Earlier this year he signed with super-agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients also include Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Radamel Falcao.

We talk about technical and tactical talent, but Neves has extraordinary mental talents. He's a player who sees the game with an extraordinary calmness and know what the game needs.
Porto B coach Luis Castro

Speaking after captaining Porto in midweek, he said: "It's very special to be part of this club and its history.

"Any player who enters the club at the start of their career dreams one day of being captain."

What are his strengths/weaknesses?

Neves is a deep-lying defensive midfielder with an excellent range of passing who does not shy away from taking the ball under pressure.

His maturity is demonstrated by his rapid rise to prominence with Porto and he already appears to be able to read the game to a high level.

"We talk about technical and tactical talent, but Neves has extraordinary mental talents," said Porto B coach Luis Castro last year. "He's a player who sees the game with an extraordinary calmness and know what the game needs."

His team-mate, Cristian Tello, formerly of Barcelona, says he is "similar to Sergio Busquets".

Portugal's midfielder Ruben Neves with Denmark's midfielder Christian Norgaard during the U21 International Friendly
Image: A call-up to the Portugal senior side looks to be on the horizon

"He is fantastic with the ball at his feet, knows where to be and is aggressive," added Tello.

Former Porto defensive midfielder Rodolfo Reis believes Neves has "reached very early maturity".

"He is a player who is achieving everything very quickly but with merit," he said. "The coach has helped a lot, relying on him, not only in one position but in several. And he has responded."

As well as Busquets, he has also been compared to his former team-mate Joao Moutinho, although Neves is not as forward-thinking as the Monaco playmaker and prefers to sit deep and control the game.

With his physical presence likely to develop in the coming years, there appears little doubt he has the potential to play at the top level, with his team-mate Bruno Martins Indi saying he will be the "future of Porto".

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