In modern football, almost every team has a midfielder to set the tempo and dictate from deep, and in Ruben Neves and Granit Xhaka, Wolves and Arsenal have their own.
Since his arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach, Xhaka has had a hit and miss time in north London and still hasn’t quite won over the Arsenal faithful.
In the Midlands, Wolves have made a solid start to life in the Premier League and look as though they could well stay up this year.
A product of the famed Basel academy, Xhaka joined Arsenal two years ago for a fee thought to be around the £30 million mark and has been fairly inconsistent since he arrived in England.
The 26-year-old midfielder is fairly immobile and at times, he’s been caught in possession with the ball. Moreover, the midfielder never seems to read the game well and is a liability in defence for Arsenal.
This season his form has improved thanks to the arrival of Lucas Torreira and thanks to the Uruguayan’s ability to cover so much ground and break up play, Xhaka has been allowed more time on the ball.
Overall, Xhaka hasn’t had the best of times in north London albeit this year he’s improved.
TT Grade: B-
Thanks to the work of super-agent Jorge Mendes, Wolves have been able to poach some of the best talent from Portugal since they were taken over in 2016. Mendes’ work was instrumental in Wolves’ promotion bid last year, and his influence in the most recent summer transfer window has enabled Nuno’s side to enjoy a brilliant start to life in the Premier League.
Mendes was instrumental in bringing Ruben Neves to Molineux in 2017, and in the 21-year-old midfielder they have one of the best young talents in Europe. Neves has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making his debut for Porto, and he’s so far been a star for Wolves.
His ability with the ball is brilliant and although he may not be the most athletic midfielder, he has an excellent passing range.
Valued at £36 million, there’s no doubt that Neves will attract the attention of some of Europe’s elite over the summer.
TT Grade: B+
A battle of two midfielder playmakers and in what won’t come as a surprise, Neves wins this one. The Portuguese midfielder is a world-class talent and one that will go down as one of Wolves’ best signings in recent memory. Thanks to the former Porto man, Wolves have been able to compete at a high level in the Premier League and look as though they’ll be fine this year.
In Xhaka, Arsenal have an immobile midfielder who has only started to play well thanks to Lucas Torreira. He’s improved this season but considering the level of play he’s shown over the last few years, he loses this one.