Chelsea are lining up another massive transfer for Mauricio Pochettino which could exceed the £100million barrier.

Chelsea could be ready to break the £100million barrier for the third time with a transfer as the pursuit for in-demand Benfica starlet Joao Neves hots up. The big-spending Blues have splashed out over £1billion on transfers across the last three transfer windows, but their spending may be set to continue again in January as they chase one of Portugal’s most promising youngsters.


Reports suggest both Chelsea and Manchester United are keen on signing Joao Neves in January after the 19-year-old’s sharp rise from the Benfica B team to starting to the Portugal national team.


The teenager only made his debut for Benfica last season and has made 33 appearances in all competitions since then, scoring his first goal for the club against capital rivals Sporting Lisbon. He was handed his debut for the Selecao in a 5-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this month.


According to TeamTalk, United scouts have been tracking him since his days playing for Benfica’s youth team and Erik ten Hag may be in the market for a new central midfielder. United see Neves as an ideal long-term replacement for Casemiro, whose future looks uncertain at Old Trafford only 15 months after he arrived from Real Madrid in a £70m deal.


They will be wary of interest from Chelsea too, as the west London club broke their transfer record in January to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica in a deal worth £107million. Owner Todd Boehly proved that wasn’t a one-off either, sanctioning a British record deal for Moises Caicedo that saw them pay a whopping £115m for the Ecuador international in August.


Both players are now regular starters in Mauricio Pochettino’s side with captain Conor Gallagher taking up the final slot in the midfield three.

Neves signed a new five-year contract in the summer which included a substantial pay rise and that could complicate matters for both Chelsea and United. Seemingly aware that his performances would generate some interest from abroad, Benfica ensured they were protected by including a £104m (€120m) release clause in his contract.


But there is a possibility Neves could now follow Fernandez to Stamford Bridge after ironically replacing the Argentine in the Benfica team in January, with Roger Schmidt handing him a bigger role in the first team.


In any case, they could face losing out to Saudi Pro League sides in January as Neves is represented by Jorge Mendes, whose agency Gestifute has encouraged clients to head to the mega-rich Arabian Gulf over the past six months. Ruben Neves and Cristiano Ronaldo play for Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr respectively, which could turn the youngster’s head if there is sufficient interest.


But they would need to invest a club-record fee to activate Neves’ release clause and United may need to wait until Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment deal has gone through before they are able to compete.


Chelsea, meanwhile, are focused on defensive and attacking targets in January, but may be encouraged to swoop for Neves if United open the bidding.

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