Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves wants to win the Premier League Asia Trophy to continue his winning summer.
The 22-year-old is on a high after winning the Nations League with Portugal with Molineux team-mates Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota. And, as Wolves prepare for their Premier League Asia Trophy semi-final against Newcastle on Wednesday, Neves wants to add to that feelgood factor.
“We want to maintain that winning feeling, that’s what motivates you for everything – to win,” he said. “If we can win, even in pre-season, it will be perfect for us.
“I think it’s beneficial to have competitive fixtures instead of friendlies, because if you are playing against good teams you can prepare yourself better to play in the competition.
“We are looking forward to the games because we know they’re going to be tough, even though they are pre-season games, and we know our opponents are really good.
“They will be tough games, but we know how Newcastle will want to play, but being pre-season, we don’t know if they’re going to change something. The most important thing is to focus on ourselves, on our shape, on the way we want to play and try to win the game.”
Wolves shocked their peers by finishing seventh last season to secure European football for the first time in 38 years. Neves says the emphasis is on improvement for next season by continuing to play the same way.
“We will continue to do what we did last season, thinking game by game, with our feet on the ground, playing the way we want to play and trying to do our best,” he said. “I arrived here in the Championship two years ago and now, in my third season here, I’m going to play Europa League, so I think we are doing really well, but we want to maintain this and try to get better.
“If you want to be one of the best teams you have to work really hard and it’s difficult to get there, but we’ll stay humble, work hard and see where we can get. But we’re mainly thinking game by game and try to win every single game we have.”
Like many of his Wolves team-mates, Neves is experiencing China for the first time and is relishing the different culture.
“I’d never been to China before, I’ve been to Singapore and Qatar in Asia, but not in China,” he said. “It’s great for us as we know we have fans all around the world, and their support means everything for us, so we want to play, and we want to win for them.
“I want to tell the fans in China to enjoy the moments, go to the games and support us, and we’ll do our best to be with them, to play well and to win.”
As a prominent player in one of the four teams promoting the Premier League in China, Neves is also proud to be representing the league in a developing football nation.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world. Every country sees the Premier League live – I’ve been in Zanzibar on holiday and they watch the Premier League,” he added. “This is really good for us because we can show to the world our job and the way we play.
“Spreading the message of the Premier League and the work they do to help communities through football is really important because in some countries football is losing a little bit of what makes it beautiful.
“The Premier League works very hard on this, and I think it’s really important for the league and for football outside England, because everyone looks at the Premier League as an example.
“This gives us the motivation as well, because people see us players as an example, not just for football, but for life.”