Benfica release statement on Man Utd's interest in Joao Neves

  • Man Utd among sides chasing Benfica midfielder Neves
  • Two clubs doing business this month to send left-back Alvaro Fernandez to Portugal
  • Benfica deny holding any talks over Neves' exit

Benfica have spoken out
Benfica have spoken out / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

Benfica have released a statement rejecting claims they have held talks with Manchester United over the sale of 19-year-old midfield sensation Joao Neves.

Neves has established himself as a key player for Benfica this season and his performances have caught the eye of a number of Europe's top sides, with Arsenal and Liverpool also known to have scouted the teenager alongside United.

Portuguese outlet Correio da Manha recently claimed United had secured an advantage in the race to land Neves. The two clubs have been in talks and have agreed a deal for United left-back Alvaro Fernandez to join Benfica on loan with a view to a permanent move, and this report claimed that the negotiations also saw United seal first refusal on any future transfer for Neves.

Such a right would mean Benfica would have to inform United of any accepted bids for Neves and the Portuguese side would also have to give United the chance to match the offer before proceeding with a sale.

Benfica, however, went public to insist there was no truth to the report.

"Benfica denies the existence of any right of first refusal over its player Joao Neves," a statement read.

Joao Neves, Rony Lopes
Neves has caught the eye this season / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

"Under no circumstances has Sport Lisboa e Benfica entered into talks with Manchester United or any other club about this player from its youth academy - nor does it intend to do so - so any information to the contrary is false."

Late last year, Benfica manager Roger Schmidt confirmed the club did not plan to listen to offers for Neves, centre-back Antonio Silva or any other key player during the January transfer window.

"We are halfway through the season and we have big goals," Schmidt told reporters. "We certainly won't let any of these players leave. We need them and no one wants to leave, so there's no question."

Neves' contract with Benfica, which runs until 2028, is understood to contain a release clause worth €120m (£103m).