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Ruben Neves: Wolves midfielder completes £47m Al Hilal move to become latest player to move to Saudi Arabia

Ruben Neves completes move to Al Hilal from Wolves for £47m; Wolves statement: "No other player has made such an impact on the pitch in gold and black during the last six years having featured more than 250 times in a remarkable period in the club's history"

Ruben Neves celebrates after scoring Wolves' third goal against Liverpool
Image: Ruben Neves has swapped Wolves for Al Hilal

Wolves have announced the departure of Ruben Neves to Al Hilal on a permanent deal and for a club record transfer fee of £47m.

The 26-year-old, whose contract at Molineux was due to expire next summer, had also been been linked with Manchester United in recent transfer windows, but his move to the Saudi Pro League side has now been confirmed.

The Portugal midfielder scored 30 goals in 253 appearances during his six-season stay at Molineux.

"No other player has made such an impact on the pitch in gold and black during the last six years having featured more than 250 times in a remarkable period in the club's history," Wolves said in a statement.

"Switching Champions League-chasing Porto for the Championship lights of the Black Country, Neves' landmark signing was the first inkling of what was to come in that second tier-winning season and forming the foundation of the Wolves which is known across the world today."

Neves scored six goals and registered one assist in 35 Premier League appearances for Wolves during the 2022/23 Premier League season.

'Neves will go down as one of Wolves' best-ever players'

Ruben Neves celebrates after extending Wolves' lead against Liverpool
Image: Neves is the latest star to make the move to the Saudi Pro League

Wolves sporting director Matt Hobbs said: "Everyone at Wolves would like to thank Ruben for all he has done for the club throughout his six years here. Not only for his effort and commitment as a player, but also as a person off the pitch.

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"Ruben is the embodiment of everything you look for when trying to bring players into a football club; a leader, a humble man and an extremely-talented footballer who took Wolves to a different level.

"He was part of a great era for this club and will go down as one of our best-ever players. We are grateful for everything he has done for Wolves and wish him and his family the very best for the future."

Neves arrived at Wolves from Porto in July 2017.

He becomes the latest high-profile player to make the move to the Saudi Pro League, following in the footsteps of his international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr in December last year.

Karim Benzema completed his move to Al Ittihad on Tuesday
Image: Karim Benzema completed his move to Al Ittihad earlier this summer

This month, Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante have already completed free transfers to Al Ittihad, who are coached by former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Reports suggest Chelsea duo Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech are also attracting interest from Saudi Arabia, while Manchester City stars Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez are thought to be other potential targets for clubs in the Gulf State.

'Every single moment was unforgettable'

Shortly before announcing the deal, Wolves posted a video on social media in which Neves sobbed and struggled to contain his emotions.

"Wolves, six seasons, 253 games, champions of the Championship, five years of Premier League football, an FA Cup semi-final, our European adventure and some huge wins," he said.

"And thousands of memories which will last forever, what an unbelievable journey. I've worked with so many great people along the way.

"Every single moment was unforgettable."

Ceferin: Saudi Pro League no threat to European football

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European football should not be afraid of a player exodus to Saudi Arabia, says UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

European football should not be afraid of a player exodus to Saudi Arabian clubs, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Sunday, suggesting the country was making a mistake investing in stars at the end of their careers.

Ronaldo and Benzema have taken hundreds of millions of dollars to join Saudi Arabian clubs this year and similar offers were made to Lionel Messi and Luka Modric. They have combined to win every Ballon d'Or awarded since 2008 and all are aged at least 35.

More players are expected to follow after four top Saudi Arabian clubs were effectively nationalised this month when taken into majority ownership by the Public Investment Fund sovereign wealth operation chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Ceferin was asked by Dutch broadcaster NOS if he was scared of a player exodus, and answered emphatically: "No, no, no."

"I think that it's mainly a mistake for Saudi Arabian football," the UEFA president said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

"Why is that a problem for them? Because they should invest in academies, they should bring coaches, and they should develop their own players."

He added: "The system of buying the players that almost ended their career is not the system that develops football. It was a similar mistake in China when they all brought players who are at the end of their career."

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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