BREAKING: Arsenal keen on Barcelona defender Mikayil Faye ahead of the summer transfer window

Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves has confirmed that he was close to joining Arsenal from Wolverhampton Wanderers before making the switch to Al Hilal.

The 26-year-old had a good career with Wolves with more than 250 appearances to his name, but he chose to pursue a new challenge away from the Midlands outfit last summer.

Barcelona and Arsenal were among the clubs credited with an interest and speaking to O Jogo (page 4), Neves said that he was close to joining three teams before moving to Saudi.

The Portugal international said that Barcelona were one of his main suitors and it was not a lie. He added that a move was close happening and the same was the case with the Gunners.

He said: “I was close to three clubs and it didn’t happen, which saddened me and helped me make the decision to go to Al Hilal. I didn’t want to put names forward, but Barcelona was one of the hottest and it wasn’t a lie. It was close to happening, just like with Arsenal.”

“Then there was another club outside England. It was events that piled up and then, with this golden opportunity, I had no hesitation in accepting. I was already calloused with transfers that don’t happen.”

Arsenal did better business with Declan Rice deal

Neves was linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium for a number of seasons. There was talk of him of him competing with the injury-plagued Thomas Partey for the defensive midfield role.

However, a transfer never materialised in the end. The Gunners had a clear intention of landing Declan Rice from West Ham United last summer and signed him in a club-record transfer.

The England international has been one of Arsenal’s best-performers in his debut campaign. He has already registered four goals and six assists from 36 appearances in all competitions.

Defensively, he has also been exceptional with two tackles and 4.9 ball recoveries per game. He has won four duels on average, completing 91 per cent of his passes for the London giants.

Neves was available for a much lesser fee of £47 million, but the Gunners made the right decision to choose Rice over him. The 24-year-old has better all-round attributes than the Porto graduate.