Rúben Neves has told O Jogo that he had an opportunity to join Arsenal when leaving Wolves.

The midfielder spent six years at Molineux before leaving for Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal last summer.

Prior to that, Arsenal were one of the clubs that showed interest in the 26-year-old, but a deal didn’t take shape in the end.

As well as the north London club, Barcelona and Liverpool had also looked at the Portugal international.

When O Jogo asked how close he was to joining one of these clubs, Neves talked about the Gunners.

“I was close to three clubs and it ended up not happening, which saddened me and helped me make the decision to go to Al Hilal. I didn’t want to mention names, but Barcelona was one of the hottest and it wasn’t a lie. It was close to happening, just like with Arsenal,” he said.

“Then there was another club outside England. These were events that accumulated and then, with this golden opportunity, I had no doubts about accepting it. I was tired of transfers that didn’t happen.”

Last summer, Arsenal spent over £100m on signing Declan Rice from West Ham United, and his arrival may have blocked Neves’ chances of arriving at the Emirates.

Despite the disappointment, the former Wolves man is not ready to close doors on a move to a big European club in the future. His deal lasts until 2026 and he insists that representing the Middle East club won’t diminish his chances of moving to a top club.

“That’s for sure. Playing in Arabia doesn’t make me feel any different from my colleagues in Europe. My fitness is fine. I’m well on the way to one day being able to return to Europe and play at the highest level,” Neves explained.

“But to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be returning any time soon. If we go down this road, Arabia could have one of the most important leagues in the world within two years. There’s no secret: the quality of the players arriving is extremely high.

“If each team bets on eight foreigners of that calibre, this almost becomes a PlayStation league, where you can pick and choose players at will. I believe I’ll be here in two years’ time, and maybe even a little longer.”

Neves will turn 29 years of age in the summer of 2026 and it needs to be seen whether a big club will consider signing him then.