WOLVES will finance Gary O’Neil’s summer transfer moves by selling one of their A-list stars.
And it seems certain Portuguese wing-king Pedro Neto will be the next cab off the Molineux rank, with today’s opponents Tottenham one of the clubs keen to do business.
O’Neil needs a summer transfer kitty to fund a new striker, centre-half and a new winger to replace Neto, in order to meet strict Profit and Sustainability Rules.
At the moment Wolves are just about breaking even on PSR, therefore they must sell off one of their assets and 23-year-old Neto is the likeliest to leave.
The truth is, if it hadn’t been for injuries, Neto would already have been snapped up by one of the Premier League’s top-six clubs a long time ago.
Arsenal are long-term admirers of the little Portuguese winger, while Liverpool were ready to test the waters with a bid in 2021.
However, Neto suffered a crippling broken knee cap against Fulham in April that season which ruled him out for almost a year, killing any potential deals.
There was a further setback for the forward at the start of the 2022-23 season when he suffered another crippling injury at West Ham in October which kept him out until the following March.
Happily for Wolves he has now returned to his best form and is injury free again.
If Mohamed Salah decides to follow Jurgen Klopp out of Anfield this summer, Neto would be an obvious candidate to replace him.
Manchester United have also reportedly held talks about the ex-Braga star.
Meanwhile, Ange Postecoglu is expected to compete with Arsenal to try and lure Neto to North London.
Italian giants Juventus lead the continental interest in him, while Bayern Munich are well aware of the English market too.
Whoever does win the race to sign the Portuguese international will have to smash Wolves’ transfer record in order to do so.
Manchester City paid the Molineux club a record £53million in September to land Matheus Nunes.
But the bidding will need to start at £60m and could even top £70m if Neto has a strong end to the season and sparks a bidding war between clubs.
Wolves boss O’Neil will be a reluctant seller.
He recently revealed how he intends to wring every minute he possibly can out of a fully-fit Neto this season.
“I remember talking to him during a break in play at Manchester United and he was starting to look a little bit tired with 15 minutes to go,” O’Neil recently revealed.
“I said: ‘You can look as tired as you want – you’re not coming off. You’re too good to come off! Get a couple of deep breaths in because it’s not happening’.
“He came off an awful lot towards the end of games and I felt someone as quick as he is – and explosive as he is – it’s worth keeping him on.
“When the opposition begins to get tired, it will open up for him and he will get some big opportunities. That’s why he never comes off.
“The fitness staff said to me a few times during games: ‘Pedro’s numbers are quite high’.
“I replied: ‘Yeah, that’s fine, we’ll rest him tomorrow’. He’s important to what we do.”
But Wolves are realistic and owners Fosun want the club to be self-sustainable.
They intend to follow Leicester City’s blueprint of selling off a major player every season to finance further moves in the transfer market.
Importantly, Wolves recognise Neto deserves a chance to play at the very top level for a regular Champions League club.
They realise they landed a top quality star when they plucked him from Braga for £16m in 2019.
Lazio, where he played on loan before moving to Molineux, never got the best out of their young starlet who only made five first-team appearances in two years in Rome.
Earlier in his career Neto turned down a move to Barcelona in favour of playing regular first-team football at Braga, so he has been known to all the biggest clubs since he was a teenager.
But at 23 he now represents a buyer’s dream.
His stats of two goals and eight assists in 15 games for Wolves this season are impressive enough.
But they would surely soar with one of the giants of the Premier League.
As O’Neil said: “He is ready to show the world just how good he is and exactly what he has in his locker.”