9 tackles, 92% passing: Joao Neves is the player Liverpool crave

Liverpool reportedly want to sign Benfica's Joao Neves. What he did against Inter will certainly have them salivating.

Reports continue to suggest that Liverpool are in the mix for Joao Neves. O Jogo is the latest outlet to claim that - and Benfica have responded with plans to boost his clause to around £130m.

The rise of Neves in 2023 has been incredible. He stepped up to fill the void left by Enzo Fernandez at Benfica - a player who had also generated a remarkable reputation in a short amount of time.

The 19-year-old Neves is now a regular starter for his club and few are still thinking about Enzo. In fact, the teenager could well go for even more than the Argentine did last January.

He's certainly giving people reason to believe that. Neves shone against Sporting earlier in November, scoring a 94th-minute equaliser that eventually sparked a win.

Against Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday night, however, he may have shown that he's exactly the player Liverpool crave right now.

Everyone can see that Liverpool want to sign a defensive midfielder - they just need the right option. Aurélien Tchouaméni didn't work out, nor did Moisés Caicedo. With long-term options running out, along comes Neves to show why he might be the pick of the bunch.

First, a caveat - this wasn't Inter's first-team. Simeone Inzaghi rested several players, though, they were still able to rally from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 away at Benfica.

In amongst that madness, it was Neves who showed just why he's special.

The headline is that he won nine tackles here. That's a ridiculous number for any player and amounted for nearly half of Benfica's total (20). Inter managed 14 as a team. No one else on the pitch won more than four, and the only other players to manage more than two were Inter's.

Even more impressive is that Neves 'only' attempted 10 on the night, winning 90 per cent of them.

But the teenager also topped the charts for dribbles here. He took the ball past players on three occasions and from three attempts. No one else did that more than twice.

And you can keep going. Neves completed the fourth-most passes on the night (56) but this was far and away the most for Benfica. No teammate came within 10 of him, while the youngster did this with a 92 per cent success rate.

All in all, Neves showed himself to be a defensive midfielder capable of dominating a game. He won tackles galore, passed comfortably, and was even able to break through midfield with the ball.

Doing that in the Champions League - Inter second-string or not - at 19 is sensational. Yes, the price-tag is massive here but it's hard to believe that Liverpool could find another young midfielder capable of ticking all their boxes like this.

If there is indeed a transfer race to come, everyone should fully expect the Reds to be in the mix.

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