Ruben Neves completes record move to Saudi giants Al Hilal from Wolves

Portuguese midfielder signs three-year deal after reported £47m transfer fee was agreed between the two clubs

Ruben Neves joins Al Hilal after six years at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Getty
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Al Hilal have completed the record signing of Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves on a three-year deal, the Saudi Arabian club announced on Friday evening.

While the financial details of the deal have not been made public, Wolves confirmed Neves moved for a club record fee, reported to be worth £47 million ($60m). It also represents a club record signing for Hilal, whose previous record signing was Brazilian winger Matheus Pereira from West Bromwich Albion for £15.5m in 2021.

"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.

Neves, 26, scored 30 goals in 253 appearances in all competitions for Wanderers. He joined Wolves in 2017 when they were in the second-tier Championship, helping them reach the top flight in his first season. He was previously with Porto in Portugal.

Wolves finished seventh in their first campaign back in the Premier League to qualify for the Europa League.

"What an unbelievable journey. A big thank you to every single person I had the chance to work with, every single moment was unforgettable," a tearful Neves said in an emotional farewell video.

"To all of the players who were part of the club during the last six years, you are friends for life. The way we protected the pack was really incredible.

"I leave as a player, but I will always be a wolf. No matter what. Thank you for everything, and I will see you in the South Bank stadium, one day."

The former Wolves captain, capped 40 times by Portugal, had a year left on his contract and had also been linked with a move to Barcelona this summer.

Neves has become the latest high-profile player to join the Saudi Pro League, with more expected in the coming weeks. Former Real Madrid and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr from Manchester United in December, while Ballon d'Or holder Karim Benzema and World Cup-winning midfielder N'Golo Kante this summer moved to Saudi champions Al Ittihad from Real Madrid and Chelsea respectively.

Other Chelsea players could be on the move to Saudi; defender Kalidou Koulibaly, winger Hakim Ziyech, and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy are all linked with clubs in the kingdom, while Manchester City's treble-winning midfielder Bernardo Silva is another big name rumoured to be on the radar.

Al Hilal were also close to signing Lionel Messi, but the Argentine great ultimately decided to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

Al Hilal are the most decorated club in Saudi Arabia and Asia having won 66 trophies and hold the record for league and Asian Champions titles with 18 and four respectively.

Updated: June 24, 2023, 5:16 AM