Wolves loanees – how are they getting on?

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Wolves have several players out on loan playing in 6 different countries and 8 Leagues that vary from League Two in England to the Spanish La Liga.  

Wolves can count a total of 16 players out on loan including 2 Goalkeepers, 6 defenders, 4 midfielders and 4 strikers.

Those players being:

Goalkeepers: Matija Sarkic and Jamie Pardington

Defenders: Toti Gomes, Oskar Buur, Ryan Giles, Luke Matheson, Dion Sanderson and Rùben Vinagre

Midfielders: Christian Herc, Bruno Jordão, Connor Ronan and Meritan Shabani

Strikers: Lèo Bonatini, Leonardo Campana, Patrick Cutrone and Rafa Mir

As you can see many young players of different quality that will hope to impress and catch the eye while out on loan.

Having seen the players that are out on loan, let’s have a closer look at some of the biggest and best names on that list.

Matija Sarkic

Age: 23

Position: GK

 On loan at: Shrewsbury Town (League One)

Games played: 18

Clean sheets: 9

Goals conceded: 12

Sarkic joined Wolves on a free transfer after having previously been at fellow Premier League side Aston Villa. The Montenegrin international signed a 3-year deal and was immediately sent out on a season long loan to League One outfit Shrewsbury Town. The shot stopper joined Salop to gain vital experience and get minutes under his belt.  As soon as Sarkic joined, he hit the ground running and made the starting place his own, starting in all 4 of Shrewsbury’s games until he suffered an unfortunate knee injury that kept him out for around 3 months, while out injured former Wolves goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne took over but didn’t take his starting position. As soon as Sarkic returned from injury he was back in the middle of the sticks starting in all the following 14 games he was available for.  In total so far, he has played 18 games (every game he has been available for) 12 goals while keeping 9 clean sheets. Certainly, more games and clean sheets to come from him this season but what does that mean? Because as we know stats can be very deceiving, in this case, the stats aren’t very far off, his time at the club has been very positive and he has been described by many as a solid, reliable, and vocal goalkeeper.

 

Toti Gomes

Age: 22

Position: Defender (CB)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 21

Goals: 2

Probably the most unknown out of the Wolves players out on loan, Toti Gomes, a Portuguese defender that Wolves signed from Estoril this summer for a fee of around 1 million Euro and sent out on loan to partner club Grasshoppers. Gomes has been the best out of the Wolves players at Grasshoppers, he’s played in every game while being a vital and key player to Grasshoppers. The Portuguese youth international that has played every single minute of the season, a Left-Back by trade has been able to slot in with ease and make the CB position his own, has not only helped Grasshoppers keep 7 clean sheets but also contributed in front of the goal scoring twice. Toti Gomes, a tall physical but also quick CB has exceeded the expectations of many fans with his consistent performances, being regarded as their best defender and too good for their league. The potential and time to improve is there, the defender that signed a 5 year deal for Wolves can be classed as one for the future, to be evaluated in the years to come because at the moment the step up from the Swiss 2nd division to the Premier League is far too high and needs to be tested at higher levels.

 

Ryan Giles 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LWB/LM)

On loan at: Coventry City until January, now Rotherham (Championship)

Games played: 27

Goals: 2

Assist: 1

After a solid but interrupted season on loan in League One last year, the 21-year-old from Telford jumped up a division to the Championship and kicked off the season with Coventry City. He started off well, featuring in all of their first 15 fixtures with 14 starts and 1 assist but in the following 3 matchdays he was left on the bench and never really managed to regain his starting place or get regular minutes in the following fixtures.  Wolves then went on to recall him from his loan, hand him a new 5 year deal and then sent him back out on loan, this time to Rotherham where he has been off to a flying start with 2 goals in 6 games, with the first of his goals coming on his debut. Overall, to date with Coventry and Rotherham, he has played a total of 27 games, scoring 2, and assisting 1. Giles, a very skilled left footed player that can be deployed at LWB or LM has had a very modest season until now and probably gone under the radar for some Wolves fans. The former England u20 international has done surprisingly well to be able to make the step up from League One to the Championship.  If he continues to get game time and the odd goal here and there for Rotherham, it won’t be long till he starts getting noticed at Wolves. Not to be understated that Giles is in Wolves long term plans, as he has just been handed a new 5-year deal not too long ago and has already been called upon to add depth to the team when struck with injuries last season.  At 21 years old his potential is big, but there is no need to rush him, so I think the best thing for him would be another good loan in the Championship next season.

Dion Sanderson

Age: 21

Position: Defender (CB/RB)

On loan at: Sunderland (League One)

Games played: 14

Sanderson spent the 2nd half of last season at Cardiff City, a surprising move for many as he hadn’t really been tested at senior level. Even more surprising was the fact he managed to impress, making 10 appearances and contributing with 2 assists in a promotion pushing side. At the start of this season he was rewarded with a new 2-year deal and sent out on loan to League One side Sunderland for the season. A move that hasn’t quite worked out, for the first half of the season at least because he wasn’t able to get regular game time, let alone a starting place for numerous reasons. With a new coach in charge at Sunderland the 2nd half of the season looks at bit more promising for Sanderson. The versatile 21-year-old that can play Centre-Back or Full-Back has only managed to get 14 games with 6 starts, not very good stats for someone that only last season managed to make 10 appearances in the Championship but there is one positive to take from his time at Sunderland, even with limited games he has looked quite good and solid not putting a foot wrong.

 

Rùben Vinagre 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LB)

On loan at: Olympiacos until January (Greek Super League), now Famalicao (Liga NOS)

Games played: 11

Vinagre was sent out on loan at the start of the season to Greek giants Olympiacos once Marçal and Ait-Nuori were brought in. After those 3 performances for Wolves at the start of the season, it was clear he was not good enough, so the best thing for all parties was a move away, in this case it was a loan with the option to buy for a fee of around £ 22.5 million. Vinagre’s time in Greece was unsuccessful and short lived, his time was hindered by injuries and the fact he didn’t want to move there in the first place. Having only played 4 matches and only looking like a shadow of himself it was decided he would be sent out on loan to Famalicão,  in his homeland (where fellow Wolves men Jordão  and Campana had been playing from the start of the season), this time no option to buy in the deal.  His time at Famalicão has been much more fruitful playing in every game since his arrival (7 games) and that brings his tally to a total of 11 games but his time and place at Wolves looks numbered and right on the edge.

 

Bruno Jordão

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Famalicao (Liga NOS)

Games played: 11

Goals: 1 

Assist: 1

Bruno Jordão joined Wolves in a permanent deal that saw him and Pedro Neto join from Serie A side Lazio for an apparent combined fee of £18 million. It’s clear to see which one of the two is the better player but that doesn’t mean Jordão is to be written off. The 22-year-old played a total of 10 matches scoring once in the 2019/20 season.  This season Wolves thought a loan was the best option for his progress, so he was sent out to Famalicão on a season long loan. So far, back in his homeland, he has played 11 matches grabbing 1 assist and 1 goal which was awarded the Liga Nos September/October goal of the month.  The Portuguese u21 youth international was featuring quite often for Famalicão up until their match vs Gil Vincente on the 27th of December, where he was an unused sub.  The following match he was an unused sub once again and since then he hasn’t been in the team for unknown reasons (which could possibly be an injury).

Connor Ronan

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 17

Goals: 1

Assist: 2

Connor Ronan joined Grasshoppers on the 24th of August and unfortunately for him, he sustained an injury that made him miss their pre-season and first two games of the season. Ronan would then go on to slowly recover and regain match fitness until he made his full debut in the starting eleven on the 2nd of November vs FC Thun. He has been in and out of the first XI playing in 17 games, scoring 1, and assisting 2. Considering everything (injury, new country, team, language etc) he has done okay, not bad but not amazing either, all in all a decent player for the League he’s been playing in. In this first half of the season he has been able to show that he is a hardworking and determined midfielder with a good eye, good touches and long passes but hasn’t been consistent enough. The second half of the season will be very important for him though, because he needs to kick on, show what he is about and what he’s been able to do previously by gaining a spot in the starting 11 and aiding the team to promotion to the Swiss Super League by notching in with some more goals and assists.  The Irish playmaker is still young, so he’s still got time to learn but a big second half of the season is needed from him and I’m sure he knows that.

Lèo Bonatini

Age: 26

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 18

Goals: 3

 Still to this day it baffles me that we signed Leo Bonatini on a permanent basis in 2018, since then he has been involved in 13 goals with a shocking 10 goals and 3 assists in almost 4 years. His performances have reflected exactly that as well. This season he was gifted a huge opportunity to regain his form and put his career back on track at Grasshoppers but to date he hasn’t exactly done himself any favours.  He scored on his debut in the Challenge League but that was very much an illusion. He would then score again on matchday 7 and follow up by going on a 12-match goal-less streak where he would lose his starting place in the team. I total thus far, the Brazilian has scored 3 in 18 games. A huge disappointment and flop in the eyes of Grasshoppers fans who were expecting to see a completely different player, someone that would bring goals to the team, especially with the pedigree and previous achievements he has on his shoulders. Instead, he has managed to grow a reputation among their fans as a lazy player that doesn’t want to be there. If Toti Gomes can be seen as their best player and Ronan as a very determined and hardworking player Bonatini is the exact opposite of both.

 

Rafa Mir 

Age: 23

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Huesca (La Liga)

Games played: 24

Goals: 9 (two hat-tricks one in La Liga and the other in the Copa del Rey)

Assist: 1

The Spanish striker that joined Wolves in 2018 from Valencia never really got going in England, playing 4 times for Wolves and 13 for Nottingham. He never managed to find the back of the net and was branded a “flop” at Forest. Loans back in his homeland with Las Palmas in the 2018/19 season and at Huesca from 2020 until now is where Mir has found his best form. In his first loan at Las Palmas he scored 7 goals and with Huesca he has scored 15, first helping them gain promotion to La Liga last season and now keeping any hopes of survival alive at the Spanish club. With 9 goals and 1 assist, Mir is the most prolific of Wolves players out on loan and any player at Wolves this season. Out of those 9 goals, 2 of them have been hat-tricks, one coming in the first round of the Copa del Rey and the other coming in La Liga against Valladolid. The former Spanish u21 international has caught eyes bringing in interest from many sides across Spain, among many, Spanish giants Real Madrid. There we had even calls from Wolves fans to bring him back when Jimenez got injured but the main reason Wolves recalled Cutrone and not Mir was because Huesca have an option to buy Mir in the summer. So, at this stage, we don’t know if we will see him again at Wolves because his future is in the hands of Huesca.

 

Other players out on loan:

Patrick Cutrone is back out on loan this time at La Liga side Valencia after an unsuccessful loan at Fiorentina and what was an unprosperous month that saw him feature 4 times at Wolves. 

Oskar Buur has headed out on an 18-month loan deal and joined fellow Wolves men Bonatini, Ronan and Toti Gomes at Grasshoppers to gain experience and game time at senior level. 

Luke Matheson has gone back out on loan in League One, this time to Ipswich Town where he has played in 2 of the 3 games he has been available for. 

Leonardo Campana has been spending the season at Liga NOS side Famalicão, where he has got the odd minutes here and there but ultimately his game time has been hindered because of a muscle and a hamstring injury. 

Meritan Shabani having recovered from his ACL injury, started off the season playing with the u23s and was even included in a few of the first team’s matchday squads. In  the January transfer window he was sent out on loan for the remainder of the season to Eredivise side VVV-Venlo, where he has got on well, scoring an extra time goal on his debut to send the club into the semi-finals of the Dutch cup. The Eredivise club has the option to extend the loan for another year at the end of the season if they wish. 

Slovakian midfielder, Christian Herc has been spending his time on loan at Czech side MFK Karvina.

Goalkeeper Jamie Pardington is now on loan at League two side, Mansfield Town after time on loan at Dulwich Hamlet.

 

Most surprising player

Rafa Mir

With 9 goals in 24 games in a team that is sitting dead last in La Liga, that certainly isn’t a bad return, one of the only reasons Huesca still have any chances or hopes of staying up. With those numbers he has done better than any of our current players at the Molineux.

Most disappointing player

Dion Sanderson

He isn’t the most disappointing because of poor performances but because of the lack of game time he has been getting at Sunderland. A player that managed to play 10 times in the Championship not many months before should be getting regular game time and have a starting place in a League One side.

Most underwhelming spell

Leo Bonatini

At his age and with his experience, a player like him should be scoring goals for fun in the Challenge League instead he has the same goal contributions as CM Connor Ronan, and he has also lost his starting place in the team.

 

Players to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season

Meritan Shabani

If the attacking midfielders performance in the Dutch cup is anything to go by, you should definitely consider keeping an eye on him, he will hope to impress by gaining a starting place in the team and marking his stay in the Netherlands with a few goals and assists.

 

Toti Gomes

The best out of the Wolves players at Grasshoppers and one of the best at the club, he has been able to adapt to Swiss football with ease and it seems like he is too good for the Swiss 2nd Division.  Watch him and Grasshoppers in action as they push to reach promotion to the Swiss Super League.

 

Ryan Giles 

Wolves one and only player competing in the Championship, he’s done well to make the step up from League One and has had a decent amount of game too. A skillful player that isn’t scared to take on his man, now at Rotherham where he has been off to a flying start.

 

With 16 players out on loan there will be many that won’t put on a Wolves jersey again or that won’t make the cut but there are also some exciting and promising players out of this group. What are your thoughts and who are the players that excite you the most?

Stats and numbers accurate as of 19/02/2021.

Matthew Gentile is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.