Ruben Neves is not expected to leave Al Hilal in the January transfer window, irrespective of the Premier League’s attempts to temporarily ban its clubs from making loan signings from teams who operate under the same ownership.
Despite only joining the Saudi Pro League (SPL) from Wolverhampton Wanderers in June on a three-year deal for £47million, Neves has been heavily linked with a return to England.
Neves is a midfielder they admire and many view him as an ideal replacement for Tonali, while Newcastle and Al Hilal sharing the same majority shareholder — Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — might have made a move between the sides more straight forward.
Amid growing scrutiny around associated party transactions, the Premier League will hold a vote at its shareholders meeting on Tuesday having recommended potential switches like this be blocked in the winter market, providing more time to establish a longer-term solution.
Any rule change in the top-flight needs support from a two-thirds majority of its 20 members to gain approval and it is likely to be a close call.
But regardless of the outcome, as things stand the firm anticipation is that Neves will remain with Al Hilal until at least the end of the season.
The 26-year-old — fresh from helping Portugal reach the 2024 European Championship via 10 wins in 10 games — has established himself as a key player for the current SPL leaders and is said to be happy and settled at the Riyadh side.
There have so far been no approaches or negotiations about Neves exiting and barring an unforeseen turn of events, he will continue to represent the most decorated club in Asia.
Under Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, Al Hilal are also top of their AFC Champions League group and into the King’s Cup quarter-finals.
They sit four points clear at the SPL summit after 13 of 34 games, with second-place Al Nassr — featuring Cristiano Ronaldo — already changing manager in a bid to bridge the gap.
Neves has assumed even greater importance since Al Hilal lost Neymar to a serious knee injury and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, another high-profile acquisition, is also on the sidelines.
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(Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images)