Every once in a while a young player emerges from outside the Big Six and catches everyone’s attention almost overnight.
This time it’s 20-year-old Wolves forward Pedro Neto who scares the opposition in the Premier League with his frankly frightening speed and agility.
The only difference with Neto is that it didn’t happen overnight. No, it took years to unearth this rough diamond.
He’s a player Arsenal and Manchester United both knew five years ago.
Indeed, 15-year-old Neto tried out at United while in the Braga youth squad in 2016 – but unlike most Portugal at the time, the Red Devils did not accept the hype.
Then in 2017, Arsenal launched a £ 13.2million offer to sign a 16-year-old Neto under Arsene Wenger, only to step down when Braga asked for £ 17.6million.
It was such a shame, given that Neto’s feelings towards the Gunners and Wenger were mutual.
The striker told talkSPORT in January earlier this year: “When I was a kid watching English football my favorite team was Arsenal.
“Because with Arsène Wenger, I thought that in addition to winning trophies, they were playing very good football.
“I am with Wolverhampton and I am very happy! Of course, they are the best club in England right now.
Now, Wenger and Jose Mourinho historically disagree on a lot of things, but they both wanted to sign teenage Neto.
Mourinho, being Portuguese, knew all about the fast winger and reports claim that the former Manchester United boss tried to rekindle interest from the Red Devils while at Old Trafford.
This would explain Mourinho’s comments on Neto last season, when asked why Tanguy Ndombele apparently couldn’t be bothered trying to keep up with the Wolves star.
“Pedro Neto is very fast,” Mourinho said. “He is very fast. Wolves do a fantastic job in selecting the profile of their players.
“They know what they want, they choose a player profile suited to the qualities of the team.
“We had 65% of the ball and we almost doubled their number of passes, but they’re really quick.
“Adama Traoré, Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota, Daniel Podence, they are all very, very fast and it was impossible for Tanguy to have him.
Mourinho and Neto share the same agent, Jorge Mendes, but that couldn’t even prevent the winger from signing for Lazio on loan in 2017.
As if to point out that Neto hasn’t only burst onto the scene this season, he’s already escaped the custom of a two-year-old footballer in the wild.
The young Portuguese star only made four Serie A appearances during his two-year loan spell at Lazio – forcing ‘Uncle Jorge’ to return to what he knew best: Wolves.
Since arriving at Molineux in the summer of 2019 for around £ 16.1million, Neto has grown into one of the Premier League’s brightest young players.
After impressing in his 29 top-tier appearances last season, Diogo Jota’s £ 40million departure from Liverpool has seen Neto claim the left wing position this quarter.
In 2020/21, he has five top goals and five assists, including brilliant solo winners against Chelsea and Southampton.
Neto will almost certainly be among the PFA Young Player of the Year nominees at the end of the season – at which point he will be worth well over £ 16million to anyone who wants to try to sign him.
Could he follow Jota to a big club? Will Arsenal and Man United try to right the wrongs of their past transfer mistakes?
Who knows, but if you’re one of the few people who still finds out how good Neto is, you can hear him in action live on talkSPORT this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. when Wolves travel to Aston Villa.