Wolves have announced their biggest summer signing since their first window after promotion with the arrival of 25-year-old Portugal international Gonçalo Guedes from Spanish side Valencia, in a deal thought to be worth around £27.5million.
Guedes is Wolves’ second summer recruit after the acquisition of Nathan Collins from Burnley for a reported £20.5million.
Bruno Lage was keen to reassure fans in his post-match press conference on Saturday that the club had been ‘talking with players’ and that any stress the supporters may have had would be quelled soon enough.
Soon really was the case as hours after Wolves’ 2-1 season-opening defeat at Leeds, strong links came out from Spain reporting that a deal had been struck between Valencia and an unnamed Premier League side. That side turned out to be Wolves as reliable journalists such as Héctor Gómez and Fabrizio Romano confirmed the club’s interest and offer. The rest, as we say, is history.
Guedes has signed a five year deal at Molineux.
Let us take a look at what Guedes can offer and his career up to this point so far:
The Story So Far
Guedes began his career at Portuguese giants Benfica, after impressing for Benfica’s B team ( 11 goals and 16 assists in 38 games) he was promoted into the first team squad. He played 67 games for the side, amassing the same goals and assists total that he had achieved with the B team.
This earnt him a big money move to PSG for a fee of around £27million in the summer of 2016. After playing 13 games for the Ligue 1 champions and only managing one assist in that time, he was moved on to Valencia the next summer.
Guedes spent 5 years at Valencia, originally joining them on loan in 2017. He started strongly in Spain, notching six goals and 11 assists in his debut campaign.
This prompted Los Che to splash out £36million on the Portuguese winger and he went on to be a crucial member of the first team. He played 177 times for the club, producing 36 goals and 30 assists.
Last season was a career-high in terms of goal contributions, registering an impressive 11 goals and six assists playing as a second striker alongside Maxi Gomez.
It is important to remember that these performances and numbers have been in an underperforming Valencia side who have had a myriad of off-the-field issues with chairman Peter Lim. The club has struggled financially and it is thought that this sale could help ease their debts as “they have to complete almost €40m worth of outgoing transfers just to meet this year’s budget.”
Guedes has been one of the shining lights in a stagnating Valencia side, and his impressive capture could mark the beginning of the club’s new rebuild under the guidance of Bruno Lage.
The Tactical Side
So where can Guedes fit into this Wolves side? Well, using Transfermarkt we can get a more in-depth idea as to where he might slot in.
The first note of importance is his ability to play across the frontline. As previously mentioned, he had an excellent campaign last season playing a more central role alongside Uruguayan forward Maxi Gómez. However, throughout his career, he has been primarily deployed at left wing.
Having played 104 games in this position, contributing 16 goals and 17 assists, it’s safe to say that this is his most favoured position and one which Wolves fans can expect him to play this campaign.
As we know though, he can play up top. His record as a second striker is comparatively far more potent, having registered 19 goals and 16 assists in 52 appearances. This suggests that Lage could switch to the 4-4-2 he used at Benfica, with Guedes supporting another centre-forward such as Jimenez.
As this is unlikely due to the preferred use of the 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1, it is most likely that ( if he were to play up top) he would be used as a lone striker that could interlink with Wolves’ three supporting attacking players.
Guedes has had slightly less success as a lone forward (10 goals and 11 assists in 34 games) but he does offer a viable option that could fit well into Wolves’ fluid front four system.
One thing to note is that throughout pre-season and against Leeds, our attacking players have not really used fixed positions and have roamed infield or swapped over to create a greater sense of fluidity and attacking dynamism. This could suit Guedes as a more potent option within that attacking unit.
According to statistics gathered by FBref, Guedes has consistently out-performed his expected goals and assists in his time at Valencia (in domestic competitions it must be said). In an isolated season, you could suggest it was simply pure luck, but this consistent defiance of the rules of numbers denotes that he is a more potent threat.
Having a player that is clinical in front of goal is an asset that has been missing from Wolves’ current wingers despite their incredible ball-carrying and creative talent.
Alongside his more potent end product, Guedes also ranks highly for progressive passes, carries, and dribbles completed. As seen below, he hits the top five, seven and six percent respectively in these areas.
This shows us that he is adept on the ball and is someone that can drive Wolves up the pitch consistently. Whilst Wolves have players that are strong in this metric, having another option that can perform in this area is certainly no negative. His high percentage in progressive passes also shows that he does come with some excellent passing intelligence and a willingness to pass forwards into advanced areas.
Whilst his passing accuracy is not anything to shout about, when it comes to making risky passes the percentage is always lower. It is also worth noting Daniel Podence has similar passing percentages and he is considered Wolves’ best creative player, showing that numbers aren’t always as good as the trusted eye test.
Guedes also possesses good statistics when it comes to tackles and interceptions. Whilst his pressure numbers are low, we can see that he is a forward player capable of defending from the front and one that has the awareness to potentially nip in in front of defenders and win the ball back high up the pitch.
The Expert View
We spoke to some experts on Goncalo Guedes to get an idea of what sort of player and character he is and how he could make an impact on the Premier League this season:
Paco Polit – Spanish journalist:
“If I’m completely honest, I believe he has been carrying Valencia for the past two seasons, especially on the pure stats.
“I believe that both him and Carlos Soler have overall been outstanding in those two areas, especially as the team has lowered its overall level.
“Guedes had been a breakout star in that first season in Valencia. In that sense, he had to pick up the mantle from the big players that had left. Him, Soler and Gaya have been the three biggest players for Valencia.
“He is possibly one of the stars who didn’t play for Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid.”
On Guedes’ best position and profile, Polit explained:
“Most of the time he played as a left-winger, but with the freedom to make diagonal runs towards the centre of the attacking front, and be able to finish both inside the box, but also with mid and long-range shots which are quite powerful and consistent.
“Most of his best goals have been in that sense. He has the ability to score in many ways, but also he has modified the way he has played in the last few seasons. He started as a player for the left wing or the middle, in the last few months, he’s been a pure number nine. He’s been the main striker for Valencia.
“He’s been consistently one of the players with the most fouls committed against him in the last five seasons, this means when he’s dribbling he’s a threat and 100% a menace. He hasn’t been protected much by the referees in Spain.
“He needs to feel important in the starting lineup, I think that if you pay that money for Guedes it’s to place him straight into the lineup. If he doesn’t play, he might find himself outside that place where he is happy.”
In regards to the fee, Polit stated that he believed Wolves were getting good value for money:
“When Valencia had the option to buy, the price tag on Guedes was between 40-50m Euros. I believe today he is a much better player than he was four years ago.
“I think his market value should be around 40m Euros or more, so I think Wolves are getting a good deal with the player.”
“So overall, Mendes has been crucial towards this transfer happening. I don’t know if Wolves are getting the best bargain price possible because I think that the negotiation has been pretty short.
“I think that in this case, Valencia have gotten the short end of the stick even after receiving those 32 plus three million euros.”
So the big question, how high can Guedes get in the English game?
“He’s an international player with Portugal. He has scored goals with them. He has worn number seven with Portugal like Cristiano Ronaldo.
“If he has a good season, he can easily be one of the top five news players in the league hands down, I’m totally positive on that one.”
Wolves have seemingly struck gold again with the help of super-agent Jorge Mendes. The controversial relationship between the club and the agent has offered Wolves another path to signing an internationally recognized player and for a decent price, whether Guedes will be a hit is yet to be seen but this marks a key signing in the new era at Wolves.