Barcelona have reportedly cooled their interest in Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves.
The Portugal international’s future was once again called into question during the summer transfer window amid links with a plethora of top European teams.
Arsenal and Manchester United were strongly credited with an interest in Neves, although Bruno Lage‘s side were thought to be demanding in excess of £70m at one stage.
As a result, Arsenal moved onto other midfield targets without success, while Man United instead swooped for Casemiro after conceding defeat in their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.
Neves is only tied down to the Molineux club until the end of the 2023-24 season, and interest in his services is expected to ramp up next summer given his contract situation.
Barcelona have been expected to reignite their interest in the 25-year-old, but according Sport – via Birmingham Live – Neves is no longer their primary midfield target.
Blaugrana boss Xavi is understood to be on the lookout for potential successors to Sergio Busquets, who is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and widely expected to leave.
The report adds that Neves is still on Barcelona’s shortlist of possible signings, but Real Sociedad‘s Martin Zubimendi is viewed as their top priority for the summer window.
Zubimendi is understood to be Xavi’s preferred choice to succeed Busquets, and he possesses a €60m (£52.5m) release clause in his contract with Imanol Alguacil‘s side.
However, Barcelona are supposedly hopeful of negotiating a lower fee with Sociedad, and the Catalans could drop their interest in Neves entirely if they can pull off a deal for Zubimendi.
Neves is now in his sixth season at Wolves after joining from Porto for £16.1m in the summer of 2017, and he has totalled 25 goals and 12 assists in 220 appearances for the club in that time.
Neves played an integral role in Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League in 2018, and he has played every minute in the top flight for Lage’s side this term, wearing the captain’s armband and scoring one goal.
The 30-cap Portugal international admitted earlier this month that he was on the verge of heading for the Molineux exit door, telling the Express and Star: “It’s football, you never know what will happen in football. At that time almost everything was ready for me to go, but this is football and you can see I am completely focused on being here.
“There’s no secrets with that. I had a chance to go, I didn’t go and I stayed, and I will give 200% for this club because they have given me a lot. They’ve given me the best things I’ve had in football for now and I want to give everything for them. I will give my best to help the club.”
Barcelona boss Xavi is currently working with Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Franck Kessie and De Jong as his midfield options, and the latter has also opened up on his protracted transfer saga with Man United.