Neves has enjoyed a fine season under Lage thus far, consistently performing to a high standard in midfield.
He continues to be linked with other clubs – Manchester United as of late – but looks set to stay at Molineux beyond the end of this month.
And Lage, going into tomorrow’s clash with Southampton, said on Neves: “He’s very important, he’s a top player.
“We spoke about him six weeks ago, and I challenged him to be better every day and to grow up in the defensive way and understand he is a defensive midfielder.
“These are the goals. He knows when he is defending he cannot forget to work for the team, and when he has the ball he needs to understand the moment, because it’s the game with the ball that gives the dimension he deserves.
“He’s doing that and coming every day with the mentality to be better and have that dimension.
“I challenged him and some other players, ‘why are you not playing for your national team?’.
“We cannot forget that when we are defending we need to work for the team, but it’s the game with the ball that gives the other dimension.
“The challenge now is to continue in that way. He did very well against Chelsea and Man United. Different games with different spaces to play, and he did very well.”
Lage added: “I am happy because he is doing the things I want and is a good player to help the team go to the next level.”