The transfer window is predominantly quite the event for fans to delve into, the excitement of rumours, improvements to the squad and big money spent are of course the primary attractions.
As Wolves fans the past couple of windows were mixed, with the squad still looking threadbare and last season’s key signings of Patrick Cutrone and Jesus Vallejo not performing to the expected level. After the defeat to Sevilla, Nuno was keen to press forward that improvements to the squad were needed.
As is with most of Wolves’ business, it was slow to get going. The sale of Matt Doherty with no set replacement caused panic and anger within the fanbase as many questioned the thought process behind it. As many will know the fanbase was split – many were concerned about the lack of transfers and the rest repeated the phrase “In Nuno/Fosun we trust”.
That faith has since been repaid with the three excellent acquisitions of 18-year-old striker Fabio Silva from Porto for a club-record fee, 20-year-old attacking midfielder Vitor Ferreira (AKA Vitinha) from the same club, and the experienced Fernando Marçal from Champions League semi-finalists Lyon.
The signings give the squad cover for Raul Jimenez which has been much needed, a hugely exciting addition into midfield with the attack-minded Vitinha and cover at left-wing-back whilst Jonny recovers from an ACL injury.
What positions do Wolves need to strengthen to have a successful transfer window?
Whilst the signings the club has made are fantastic, there are still some areas within the squad that need addressing. The most crucial of course being right-wing-back. Adama Traore filled in against Sheffield United and gave a decent account of himself, Oskar Burr Rasmussen was placed there when Adama was pushed up front – and this shows the lack of depth in that position.
Rasmussen has barely featured at first-team level, with his cameo being his first-ever Premier League showing. Whilst he was solid, you would think that the club needs to sign someone with a higher level of ability than Doherty let alone Rasmussen to help push for the top 6 again this season.
Several names have of course been thrown around, with the most concrete of those being Jesus Corona and Tomas Esteves from Porto. With the raid Wolves are seeming to inflict on the Portuguese giants this summer either of these signings would make sense. Corona (very aptly named given the pandemic) won the player of the year for Porto last season – and would certainly be an upgrade on Doherty’s offensive ability.
Whether he would be completely reliable defensively is yet to be seen but he would certainly be a statement signing, his talents are well known, and he has Champions and Europa League experience to boot. He would also help with the Mexican market, being our second player from the country alongside Raul Jimenez. Esteves, whilst lesser-known, could probably be my pick at the right price. Another Portuguese wonderkid to come out the Dragao, Esteves is very much in the Ruben Vinagre mould of a skillful, pacey full-back with bags of potential.
His offensive and defensive ability is second to none, and after watching some youtube videos of him you can see how well he could fit into Wolves’ system. His age is also a huge plus only being 18 years old, meaning Fosun could see a large return on their investment if he reaches his lofty potential.
Either one of these options would fit into the philosophy at Wolves and slot in seamlessly with the system we play. Ideally, two signings here would help massively, but for that, we will have to wait and see.
This position is by no means a priority compared the aforementioned one, however, cover or improvements at centre-back wouldn’t go amiss. Ryan Bennett is virtually out of the team with Nuno clearly not fancying him much anymore as a first-team starter. The form of Romain Saiss has pushed him out, but should an injury occur to him Coady or Boly – Wolves could do with extra cover.
Leander Dendoncker has put in some impressive performances in the back three, but to take Wolves the next level you feel another top center-back is needed. Whilst popular figures, if you were to pick out potential weak links in the squad Coady, Saiss and Doherty would be up there. Dion Sanderson and Max Kilman can, of course, play there, but if we’re looking to compete for the top 6 then you wouldn’t be able to safely rely on them at this level.
The biggest name linked is, of course, Ruben Dias, who Wolves have confirmed interest in.
The Portugal international could leave Benfica for a reduced fee after they were stunned by PAOK in the Champions League – leaving the door open for Wolves to potentially swoop in. He would almost certainly walk straight into the team, replacing either Coady or Saiss. Similarly to Jesus Corona, this would signify a real statement of intent as he has been courted by some of Europe’s top clubs however there have been some questions marks around whether Dias can do it against elite-level oppositions. Jean Claire Todibo is another name strongly linked, the French youth player spent last season out on loan to Schalke from Barcelona where he was decent but slightly error-prone.
He is, however, young, and with Nuno’s tutelage could become a very solid option for us in the backline.
Finally, we have central midfield. Wolves do currently have talented options in the middle of the park, but with Vitinha most likely to be deployed in a 3-5-2 at attacking midfield, I feel another addition to back up Moutinho and Neves would give us the perfect squad. Dendoncker could be utilised in defence so another body to help wouldn’t do any harm.
João Palhinha has been heavily linked and he would certainly be a welcome addition but now looks set to sign another deal with his club Sporting CP. A more physical presence in midfield like Alfred N’Diaye is still an option I feel the team needs just to help change it up and offer different threats.
Whether Wolves have identified someone of that ilk is yet to be seen, but I definitely believe it would benefit us greatly.