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Rui Patricio looks set to seal move to AS Roma

Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Rui Patricio looks set to seal a move away from Molineux this summer as AS Roma close in on the Portuguese shot-stopper’s signature. Talking Wolves understands that it’s a matter of when not if for the deal in question.

There have been various reports in Italy that suggest that personal terms between Patricio and Roma have been agreed but both clubs were still yet to agree on a fee. Wolves reportedly value Patricio at between €10-15 million with Roma reportedly only tabling €6 million plus add-ons. New Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has long been an admirer of Patricio and could finally land his man once the Euro’s have finished.

Wolves are keen to get the 33-year-old off the wage bill, along with Joao Moutinho who are both among the top earners at the club, earning reportedly in the region of £85,000+ per week. Patricio, who signed from Sporting Clube De Portugal back in 2018 and has made 118 appearances for the club.

Wolves will now turn their attention towards another Portuguese shot stopper in Jose Sa. Sa is said to be close to sealing a move to Molineux and is being reported by a number of news outlets in Greece. Sports journalist Giannis Chorianopoulos has reported that Jose Sa will travel from Austria to England to complete his medical ahead of his move to Wolves. The 6ft 4inch Sa has been a mainstay in the Olympiacos goal since he made his loan move from Porto a permanent one in 2019. It’s believed Wolves could pay between £8-10m for Sa.

Wolves have also held interest in other goalkeepers such as Bartłomiej Drągowski and could still make a move for him but the competition for Dragowski’s signature is said to be fierce.

Catch up on the latest batch of transfer rumours over on our YouTube channel below

Matthew Cooper is a Talking Wolves co-founder and you can follow him on Twitter here.

 

Molineux

Wolves Loanees – How did they get on?

Plenty of players spent the season out on loan playing in many different leagues of all levels gaining promotion, missing out on promotion, avoiding the drop, getting relegated, placing midtable and so on with their respective teams.

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, Rafa Mir and Dongda He.

 

Here is how they got on this season:

Matija Sarkic

Age: 23

Position: GK

 On loan at: Shrewsbury Town (League One)

Games played: 29

Clean sheets: 11

Goals conceded: 28

Despite some injury troubles that he suffered at the start and the end of the season (knee and quad injury respectively) Sarkic, managed to play a total of 29 games and keep a modest 11 clean sheets with Shrewsbury Town that placed 17th in League One, avoiding the drop to League Two by 7 points with a goal difference of -7. The Vocal Montenegrin shot stopper that can command his area quite well received many plaudits while at Salop, his performances alone earned various points for the club, and you have got to think that if he had a full season without any injuries, he could have helped the team achieve a higher position in the League. A very promising player to keep an eye out for, it will definitely be interesting to see how much Wolves value him and what they will decide to do with him. With all the rumours surrounding the 2 first choice keepers, is another loan on the horizon or will he take up a place in the team as the 3rd or 2nd choice Goalkeeper? We will just have to wait and see.

 

Toti Gomes

Age: 22

Position: Defender (CB)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 36

Goals: 2

Toti Gomes has been key in Grasshoppers promotion to the Swiss Super League, the Portuguese defender played 36 times and was the outfield player with the most minutes (3094 minutes). Gomes did not have any troubles adapting to Swiss Football at all, he has been regarded by many Grasshoppers fans as one of the best defenders and players at the club and league this season. Without him and his performances, promotion to the top of Swiss football probably would not have been achieved. The tall, quick, and strong defender has had a great season in Switzerland but he did make some mistakes at the end of the season, the best thing for him next season would be another year at Grasshoppers to see how he does in the top league, then you can work from there and see what the next step will be. A good investment overall.

 

 

Ryan Giles 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LWB/LM)

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

Games played: 44

Goals: 2

Assist: 1

In the end, Rotherham weren’t able to avoid relegation they just didn’t have enough in them and missed out on safety by 2 points. Nonetheless, Ryan Giles had a decent overall season in the Championship with Coventry (in the first half of the season) and Rotherham (in the second half of the season). To get 44 games under your belt at any level is great, especially in the Championship. That many games and minutes can only have done him good. Not to be forgotten is that this was his first year playing in the 2nd tier and the step up he made from the previous season. All this at 21 years of age is a good feat and a good experience for him. Aside from the number of games played, the former England U20 international got a total of 3 goal contributions, it doesn’t sound great, but he did show promise, he was good with the ball, had quick footwork and a good crosser of the ball. There is definitely potential and room for improvement in him, another loan in the Championship where he can get regular gametime is what would be best for him, or do you think he should be at Wolves next season because “Is Rayan Ait-Nouri for 20 million better than Giles?”.

Dion Sanderson

Age: 21

Position: Defender (CB/RB)

On loan at: Sunderland (League One)

Games played: 27

Goals: 1

Dion Sanderson got off to a slow start at Sunderland, he didn’t get regular game time at the Stadium of Light until Lee Johnson took charge. He only managed a few games here and there, but as the season progressed he made the CB position his own at the Black Cats. He had an extended run of 18 games in the team with him playing the full 90 minutes in 14 of those games, he would have played even more games if he hadn’t suffered a back injury that kept him out for the final and decisive games of the season. His performances were good and he got praise from many Sunderland fans, so much that he won the Young Player of the Season. Following his performances and with just one year left on his deal many teams are interested in him, a move away from Wolves seems the most likely option for all parties if a new deal isn’t agreed.

 

Rùben Vinagre 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LB)

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

Games played: 27

Assist: 3

The Portuguese LB had a very poor first half of the season. He started off at Wolves making 3 appearances in old gold, but it was evident he was not good enough, so he was sent out on loan to Olympiacos. His poor form continued there as well so Wolves then sent him out on loan to Famalicao back in his homeland. He got back on track while at the Liga NOS side, playing a total of 20 games and picking up 3 assists in the meantime. Despite his form, and with the arrival of Bruno Lage his time at the club still looks to be numbered. He doesn’t have a place in the team and isn’t good enough at this time and moment but with his current form he could bring in a good sum of cash of around 10-15 million, Benfica and Sporting seem to be the two teams most interested in his signature.

 

Bruno Jordão

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Famalicao (Liga NOS)

Games played: 11

Goals: 1

Assist: 1

Jordao’s season was hindered by a long-term injury that he suffered at the beginning of January and kept him out for the rest of the season. Before injury, the Portuguese midfielder featured 11 times and grabbed 1 goal (which was awarded the September/October goal of the month) and 1 assist. A shame for Jordao as he wasn’t able to display his qualities and has now fallen down the pecking order. Pre-season at Wolves and another year out on loan seems the best option for him and the club.

 

Connor Ronan

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 32

Goals: 1

Assist: 3

 An overall good season for Ronan but also slightly unfortunate, he joined Grasshoppers and immediately picked up an injury that kept him out of their pre-season and first two games. Once he recovered, he had to fight for a place in the team, which he did really well, becoming a regular face in the team and helping the Swiss side to promotion. In his time at the club the former Ireland U21 international showed great mentality and determination, always running and fighting for every ball. He managed to reach the consistency that he was lacking in the first half of the season and although he only got 4 goal contributions, his passing and crossing was very good. The only weaknesses were duels and headers due to his stature. Unfortunately for him though, the season ended two games early as he suffered a metatarsal fracture. Hard to predict what we will do with him, one thing for sure is that he will be at Wolves recovering from injury, when he recovers who knows? Maybe another loan, because Wolves must see something in him as they have kept and persisted with him for quite a long time now.

 

Lèo Bonatini

Age: 26

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 33

Goals: 13

Assist: 2

A very bad start to life in Switzerland for Bonatini, hardly any goals in the first half of the season and didn’t seem to be enjoying it at all, or more than anything not wanting to be there. His luck changed in the second half of the season once he found his scoring boots, and he seemed to be more motivated. He contributed to 15 goals in total with 13 goals and 2 assists. He started off as a massive flop and disappointment in Zurich but ended up being instrumental by pushing Grasshoppers to promotion as the club’s top scorer and the fans seemed to finally appreciate him too. There’s no doubt where he will be next year, he will be playing in the Swiss Super League with Grasshoppers as he was signed on a two year loan deal.

 

Rafa Mir 

Age: 23

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Huesca (La Liga)

Games played: 39

Goals: 16 (two hat-tricks one in La Liga and the other in the Copa del Rey)

Assist: 1

Wolves most prolific player with 16 goals, Rafa Mir, spent the season out on loan in La Liga with Huesca. The Spanish side that sat in 20th position for the majority of the season moved up the table thanks to his goals but they weren’t enough to ensure them safety as they finished 18th, 2 points away from 17th placed Elche. The former U21 Spain international was clearly the best out of the Wolves players out on loan and he didn’t go unnoticed, many teams in Spain have shown interest in him and some Wolves fans think he should be given the chance to come back and play with us. It seems unlikely this will be the case as he is entering the last year of his contract and Wolves seem willing to cash in on him or even use him as a makeweight for a possible swap deal. Signed for 1 million, you have got to say this has been good business from the club as they will be getting double that amount in the event of his sale.

 

Other players out on loan:

Patrick Cutrone

Games: 24

Assist: 1

Where do you start off, it has definitely been a shocker and a season to forget for Cutrone, 24 games in total with Fiorentina, Wolves and Valencia and no goals. Left Fiorentina for the lack of game time and played 4 times at Wolves before moving back out on loan to Valencia where he encountered the same problem he had at Fiorentina.  Possibly one of the worst signings under the Fosun reign, they will be lucky to get back the same amount they paid for him if they wish to sell him.

 

Oskar Buur

Games: 11

Sent out on an 18 month loan deal to partner club Grasshoppers and in the half a season he was there he played 11 times, his time at the club was interrupted by various injuries and when he did play he wasn’t anything special. Oskar Buur will be spending the next season on loan with Grasshoppers in the Swiss Super League along with Leo Bonatini.

 

Meritan Shabani

Games 7

Goals: 1

A promising start on loan with Dutch side VVV-Venlo, scoring on his debut to send the club into the Semi-Finals of the Dutch cup and some decent cameos for him. This could have been the big breakthrough for him having recovered from his ACL injury and having done well in Wolves u23s before his loan move, but unfortunately he suffered another injury that kept him out of action for the rest of the season.

 

Leonardo Campana

Games:10

Goals: 2

Assist: 1

The Ecuadorian internationals time in Portugal at Famalicao with fellow Wolves men Jordao and Vinagre was ultimately hindered by a muscle and a hamstring injury. He only featured in spells, getting the odd minute here and there. In his limited playing time, he did manage to grab 2 goals and 1 assist. At just 20 years of age the best option for him will be another season out on loan.

 

Christian Herc

Games: 32

Goals: 7

Assist: 1

The forgotten Slovakian midfielder spent the season out on loan at Czech side MFK Karvina, where he played 32 times and contributed to 8 goals. A decent season as one of the key players after an unsuccessful time at Viktoria Plzen the previous season.

 

Luke Matheson

Games: 2

His time out on loan with Ipswich didn’t last very long as he played 2 games and got injured shortly after. Following the injury, the loan was cancelled and Matheson returned to Wolves where he would recover and eventually feature for the U23s.

Jamie Pardington

The 20-year-old shot stopper spent time out on loan with Dulwich Hamlet and League Two side Mansfield Town, where he got his first taste of action in men’s football.

Dongda He

Games: 3 

The 19 year old Chinese striker from the U23s has been sent out on loan to Chinese Super League side, Beijing Guoan, where he has made 3 appearances from the bench.

 

Most surprising player – Rafa Mir

Nobody would’ve expected much at all from the 23 year old Spaniard at the beginning of the season, an unsuccessful time in England, first year playing in a top division and only playing with newly promoted Huesca. In the end, he defined the odds and surprised many fans, netting 16 times in total, attracting interest from many sides.

 

Most disappointing player – Patrick Cutrone

No goals in 24 games, I think that says it all!

The Italian didn’t manage to get a single goal at any of the 3 clubs he played with this season, he was never a regular and fell out of favour with the managers at basically all clubs this season. The only place where the 23 year old has done well is with the Italian U21 side at the Uefa U21 Championships where he got 4 goal contributions in 4 games (3 goals 1 assist).

Most unfortunate players

Bruno Jordao

A season back in his homeland with Famalicao where he would be able to get regular gametime and thrive, what could go wrong? He got off to a decent start, getting regular gametime, scoring and assisting once, won the September/October goal of the month and then a long- term injury struck and kept him out for the season.

Meritan Shabani

A good start to life in the Netherlands for Shabani but it wasn’t to be for the German midfielder. As stated before, it could have been his breakthrough but unfortunately he received a major blow because of injury.

 

This time around there were 17 players out on loan and as you can see, they all had varying levels of success over the season. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop and mature this time next year.

 

Stats and numbers accurate as of 14/06/2021.

 

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

Molineux Stadium Turnstile

Lone Wolf: Thoughts on Jeff Shi’s Latest Communication to Wolves Fans

Track back to July 21st, 2016. A Chinese conglomerate called Fosun International had been announced as Wolves’ new owners and fans were dreaming of the good times ahead. Four years later, and the dreams from that day are now a reality, but this is only the beginning for Wolves under the stewardship of the Chinese investment firm, headed by Jeff Shi. Fosun chose Wolves after Shi had examined approximately 15 clubs to invest in. He said in his very first interview that Wolves fits Fosun’s criteria for a club with impressive features such as the academy, infrastructure, and no debt left by previous owner Steve Morgan. 

After a shaky first season in which Shi admitted he knew little about football and the credentials needed to run a successful football club, the then ‘main director’ learnt many lessons and moved full time to Wolverhampton, swapping the shining lights of Shanghai for the battered chips of the Black Country and made himself ‘Executive Chairman’. This meant Shi taking over on a full-time basis which has ultimately led to the meteoric rise to the Premier League and ultimately European football, with there now seeming to be a clear progressive plan and identity at Molineux as they work towards Fosun’s dream of becoming a powerhouse in European football. After the disappointing end to the unprecedented 2019/20 season, Jeff Shi communicated with fans via a series of posts across the club’s social media and website in which he outlined his thoughts and plans for the future. 

Wolves’ 2019/20 Season 

‘At the beginning of the last season, my personal goal for the first team was to surpass the points tally of the 2018/29 season

I’m happy and proud of our team because they have achieved it and we’ve also got to the last eight of the Europa League

We have seen many unforgettable moments, some obvious improvements from our players, and, clearly, we’ve had a more balanced squad than before’

Despite a disappointing end to the season, almost every Wolves fan will echo Shi’s pride in the 2019/20 campaign, achieving more points than the previous season would have been an impressive milestone in itself. But to do this in conjunction with a deep run into the Europa League in which players and fans alike made memories to last a lifetime, is ultimately a fantastic achievement. As he stated, many players did improve across the season and will be better prepared for European football in the future having had their first season under their belts and be more motivated to go further next time following the bitterly disappointing late goal in their Quarter Final against tournament winners Sevilla.

‘The pace of our progression has been really good, but it will be a challenge to maintain that pace, or even speed it up. From the Championship to the Premier League there was a challenge there, but from now to the next step, it will be another challenge and maybe even tougher’

It is a notion that many fans do not like to dwell on, however, sometimes a period of reflection on past achievements is needed. No one could have foreseen the rapid progression of the club on the field in the past three seasons, an achievement made possible after the harsh lessons of Shi’s first year at the helm. He rightly acknowledges the importance of looking forward and understands that Wolves face an incredibly difficult task to break into the elite of English and European football. 

In the top half of the Premier League, you almost have to invest and improve just to stand still, meaning continued progress will be extremely difficult and is likely to happen at a much slower pace than the previous three years. Despite this, no one would have said that European football would have been achievable in the clubs’ first season in the Premier League. If they have a strong transfer window and good start to the season, aided by a favourable first two months of fixtures, you wouldn’t bet against Nuno’s men going that one stage further next season.

Wolves Transfers

‘We’ll keep working hard, but we will stick to our principles and not rush into anything that isn’t right for us

We will wait and when the time comes, we will go for it, but if we don’t see a perfect target, we have to wait – we still have two months’

The area that will be of the most concern for Wolves in the next two months will certainly be first team recruitment. There is no hiding from the fact Wolves have had a poor record in the previous three windows, having shown great promise with the signings in the summer of 2018. Since then, no player has made a substantial impact on the first team, although Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence certainly look like they will have something to offer. One thing Wolves did do well is make a number of successful loan signings into permanent deals, a trait that has proven to be extremely successful since Fosun have taken over. 

However, with the levels Wolves now aspire too, the loan market is unlikely to offer the quality needed to strengthen. Gone are the days of loaning players and having a free six to twelve-month trial before spending big money on them with confidence. Shi comes across as extremely relaxed here, this is certainly not the feeling mirrored by the Wolves faithful at this present moment with the surprise departure of Matt Doherty looking increasingly likely. However, given their track record when it comes to judging player sales, Wolves have a near-perfect record in recent years and have perhaps earnt an element of trust despite the baffling nature of the Irishman’s imminent departure. If Wolves are to let Doherty leave what is already a wafer-thin squad, Shi may not be able to afford such patience in this transfer market, especially after Nuno’s plea for players in the final game of the season against Sevilla.

‘Our recruitment team are not resting, they are working night and day, and I’m deeply involved in any transfer discussion and decision. For the next two months, 50% of my job will be about recruitment’

While there is no doubt Wolves’ recruitment team are working hard to bring players in, there is an understandable concern among Wolves fans with less than three weeks to go until Wolves face Sheffield United in the opening game of the Premier League season. Shi is clearly taking an active role in the transfer window, far more active than in previous windows where Wolves’ recruitment was headed up by the largely unpopular Kevin Thelwell. Whether or not Shi has the knowledge to take on such a role remains to be seen. If the possible departure of Doherty for a minimal fee is Shi’s decision, then that would suggest not. Yes, there are still two months left until the transfer window closes, but time is running out if Wolves are to start the season strongly under what are already challenging circumstances.

Managerial Structure 

Following the departures of Laurie Dalrymple and Kevin Thelwell during the 2019/20 season, Jeff Shi has decided to assume the responsibilities of both the football and commercial side of operations, forming a committee to aid him in both departments. Shi is joined by Russell Jones and Vinny Clark in running the commercial aspects of the club, while Matt Wild and Scott Sellars have teamed up with the Chairman to oversee all football-related matters. Crucially, Shi has overall responsibility for all aspects of the club.

‘I’m in charge of strategy and will map my view for the commercial side… the three of us (Shi, Jones and Clark) talk very often, where we formulate plans and execute them, together with our strong senior management team in each department

Our ultimate goal is to try building a top brand. People can change, but the brand is always there – almost like Conor Coady, he’s always there! 

Our fashion brand WWFC has won a lot of loyal fans in China, some of them are football fans too, some are not 

We are 143 years old indeed, but our heart is still so young, full of curiosity to the times and courage to the adventure’

In addition to the progress made on the field, Wolves have accelerated their ‘brand’ off the field too, while aiming to maintain their relationship with the hardcore fans that are at Molineux each week. 

The latter has not quite been up to standard since Laurie Dalrymple’s sacking last summer, but perhaps Wolves fans were in a privileged position with a member of senior management interacting with fans openly on twitter. He was a breath of fresh air having had to put up with the suborn Jez Moxey for many years previous. 

Despite his surprise departure at the time, when you think about it, Dalrymple’s exit was only a matter of time once Jeff Shi became Executive Chairman and took on a full-time role at the club. It was inevitable the pair would have a conflict of ideas and Shi would ultimately want full control. However, Dalrymple’s positive interaction with fans is certainly missed, despite the impressive progress made on commercial matters at the club in the previous twelve months. 

The pre-season tour of China was a huge success, made even sweeter as Wolves claimed the Asia Trophy following a penalty shootout win against Manchester City. What was a relatively insignificant moment for fans watching on back home, was a huge marketing ploy for Fosun and the commercial team trying to grow the Wolves brand in China. It was no secret Wolves planned to travel across the Atlantic this summer and arrange a friendly with Club America, Raul Jimenez’s former club. This was yet another enormous marketing opportunity that has unfortunately been side-lined due to the pandemic. Despite this, Shi and his team will take every opportunity they can to innovate and improve, growing the brand and ultimately increasing revenue along the way.

On footballing matters

‘I work with them (Sellars and Wild) every day to discuss and make all football-related decisions

I’m the leader for both sides, but the new structure means I receive strong help and support from my colleagues. It gives me more clarity and greater teamwork inside the whole club, as well as providing us with more energy and new ideas’ 

There is no doubt Shi will have learned an awful lot in his time at the club, but whether that’s enough to take control of a club trying to push for the top four/six of the Premier League as previously mentioned is another matter. Many Wolves fans would have preferred Thelwell to have been replaced directly but Shi opted to surround himself with people from within the club who will advise him on decisions. One notable aspect of Shi’s management is his willingness to make changes when things are evidently not working, meaning the hiring of a Director of Football or a similar role should not be ruled out if the new structure fails to produce adequate results in the forthcoming season. 

His reference to the need for ‘more energy and ideas’ was interesting to say the least. Perhaps a suggestion that both Dalrymple and Thelwell, who had been at Wolves for a large number of years in a variety of roles, were coming to the end of their service and the management needed freshening up as Wolves look to move on to the next level. Another important point from this part of Shi’s communication to fans is that he is very much now in control. From a man who was merely a figurehead for Fosun’s takeover, overseeing club operations from Shanghai, to a supreme leader from within the club, the responsibility firmly lands at his feet from this moment onwards. 

COVID-19 and Wolves’ future prospects

‘We’ve tried to make the staff safe; not only about their health but also financially’

The COVID-19 outbreak in the UK was unwelcome but expected by the time the lockdown was announced, and in dealing with the challenges in which it possesses, Wolves did it better than most with Shi very much taking a hands-on role. Fosun too were generous in their donations, supporting New Cross and other local hospitals as well as supplying the club with masks and other relevant PPE. Wolves staff were paid in full, regardless of which department they work in, throughout the entire lockdown. This is definitely something Shi and Wolves as a club should be commended for, especially when you see the despicable actions of other wealthy clubs in England’s top flight.

‘In the long-term, our aims are still the same. There has not been any change. Even in a really big pandemic that could go on for more than a year, that time frame is still a small part of our 10-year, 20-year plan

I’ve repeated it many times, we want to be an elite team in the world, and also a top brand in the world, but we are not in a rush. We want to do things steadily, step-by-step, to build the club to that level

Time is not our enemy; in fact, time is our friend, our best friend’

It is certainly reassuring to hear Fosun are in the project for the long term. The pandemic has caused issues across the globe and quite how it will affect football at the elite level remains to be seen, but the future is certainly bleak for clubs in the lower leagues of English football. 

Shi is most certainly right when he references the very small-time frame in which these uncertain times will take up in terms of the long-term plan. We all hope to resume ‘normal’ as soon as possible, but it is very much business as usual behind the scenes as Fosun plan for the future. 

Shi referenced ‘time’ many times throughout his recent communications and has done so regularly when talking to the press in his time at Wolves. Fosun are not shy in sharing their ambition to be the best, but they acknowledge this does not happen overnight. There will be setbacks along the way and Shi will have to accept that, fans too will have to accept the process of establishing a club in the top end of the Premier League, and in European football takes time and will not be plain sailing. 

Shi also admitted he had been to see the Academy train while the first team took a well-earned break. ‘It’s been a long time to get back, the grass smells so good, and only when you put your feet on the pitch, you feel normal life is getting real’, showing just how hands-on and involved he is in the day to day running of the club, and how he has developed a love for football as a sport and as a culture as well as a business.

Wolves Academy 

‘They are now 100% independent

The Wolves Academy is a unique brand with their own philosophy, their own strategy, their own dream, their own finance, a company run by itself and, in the future, will have more partnership academies across the world

I see the Academy as parallel to the first team’

Since his first interview following the takeover in 2016, Shi has made no secret about his admiration and excitement when it comes to the academy. This latest update is possibly the biggest change to the academy at Compton since its creation. The academy now operates as a separate business to Wolves and create their own finance through the sale of players, which could be to the Wolves first team or elsewhere. If a player is signed up to the first team from the Wolves Academy then the Wolves first team now pays a fee to the academy to help keep it sustainable. 

This is not an uncommon format in Europe however there are not many examples of such academies in the UK. Chelsea’s academy, notoriously known for loaning out and selling vast amounts of players who have never played for the first team, is a good example of a self-sustained academy, but they are not independent from the club itself as Shi has done here. Viewing the academy as ‘parallel’ to the first team emphasises the importance of the academy and its development going forward, clearly, something Shi sees as crucial as the club continues to grow and progress.  

‘Certainly, the Wolves first-team is currently their biggest client for them. They try hard to sell their players to first team, meanwhile, they can also develop players, loan or sell the players to other clubs in the world. We are proud of every single graduate of the Academy, no matter where they go

The Academy’s goal is to help and support all the players with our knowledge, experience and hard work, and give them the best career they can reach’

It is good to hear Shi talk in such a way about the young players at the club, understanding that they are more than just a number and taking care of them and their futures, even if it becomes apparent it may be away from Wolves. 

This again shows Shi has become far more than an executive who wants Wolves to become great and produce revenue, he is a caring individual who is keen on being active in all areas of the club. When discussing recent academy graduates, many will reference Morgan Gibbs-White as an example. However, Oskar Burr, Taylor Perry and Owen Otasowie have all made first-team appearances in high profile fixtures this season, along with many players from the under-23 squad who played in the Carabao Cup defeat at Aston Villa. Wolves may have suffered a defeat that night, but many gave an extremely good account of themselves against a strong Villa side. 

Wolves Women 

‘It wasn’t fair what happened to Wolves Women last season

I’m not happy about it and would rather they have finished the season with something better like points per game, but the past is in the past, and we can say the success last year has given the women’s team a strong, solid base to go again this season. I am very confident they will try their best to win the league

They know that is they need any help; I am here to support them. Last season, they trained ay Compton Park’

In addition to the academy, Shi also mentioned Wolves Women in his very first interview at Wolves, and while openly admitting the men’s first team was the priority, he spoke of his desire for long term success for the women’s team. Last season, Wolves Women were on the verge of securing promotion when their season was unbelievably cut short and declared null and void following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK. They have moved to train at Compton in the past year, giving them access to the excellent facilities while also feeling part of the club. The future is certainly bright for the women’s side and following numerous arrivals in recent days and both moral and financial support from the club’s Executive Chairman, they’re certainly in with a chance of gaining their deserved promotion this time around. 

Molineux Stadium Redevelopment 

‘We have a long-term plan for the stadium. Eventually, we hope to have a larger stadium, but to expand, we need to be cautious. We don’t want to put ourselves into a financial dilemma by doing too much too soon

What I’m planning to do is a step-by-step plan. We will not rebuild the stadium from zero, we want to expand some of the capacity here and rebuild some parts there. Expanding gradually will be safer 

What is more crucial is still the 11 players on the pitch. A new stadium is nice to have, but it’s a long-term ambition. Now my mind is clearer, we have already a solid plan for Molineux, and hopefully from next season we can start to make improvements and expansions year-on-year and eventually we will reach that point’

FAO Steve Morgan. Many fans have been extremely frustrated in the past two years when it comes to Molineux redevelopment. In the past, Shi has spoken of his desire to have a large multi-purpose stadium, with both Molineux expansions and new stadium builds having been discussed with various stakeholders. However, the move has clearly been put on hold and Shi does not feel the need to re-build even part of Molineux anytime soon. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a brand spanking new Steve Bull stand currently in development? Well, yes. But far more important is that Fosun’s investment goes into the first eleven and Wolves continue to progress on the field. Steve Morgan’s Northbank nightmare is evidence of stadium redevelopment that was completed at the wrong time which had disastrous on-field effects. Some have suggested that the lack of willingness to rebuild Molineux shows a lack of long-term commitment from Fosun. This is simply not true. Fosun are an investment firm and are on course to establish a club they paid just £30m for as regular European contenders and they do not plan to stop there. If Wolves strengthen in the required areas this summer and start the season well, the redevelopment of the stadium is likely to be the last thing on fans’ minds as they dream of European trips once more.

Jeff Shi’s communications were very welcome, having not heard from him at length on club matters since the end of the 2018/19 season. He learned some harsh lessons very quickly and has done a fine job overseeing Wolves’ rise in the past three years. However, with his role becoming increasingly active and hands on, whether he has the footballing knowledge and expertise to guide Wolves to the next level remains to be seen. There is an understandable cause for concern at this present moment. Wolves must sign a number of first team quality players or face losing the greatest manager in their modern history, an unthinkable blow to their chances of progressing to the next level. But, with the progress of the last three years, you’d back Shi and his team to deliver when it really matters and fulfill Fosun’s ambition, Nuno’s dream, and far more importantly, the fans’ dream.


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