Who is Marçal?
Marçal is a 31-year-old Brazilian left-sided defender who came through the ranks at Grêmio and eventually worked his way into Europe via the Portuguese leagues. After an impressive stint at Nacional, he earned himself a transfer to Benfica, however, he did not feature for the Portuguese giants as after two loan spells he was bought by Lyon for around €4.5 million. The reason for his transfer to Lyon was primarily because of his impressive season at fellow Ligue 1 side Guingamp, in which he displayed his impressive abilities both defensively and going forward, logging 7 assists and averaging 1.7 key passes per game. It should be noted that this was the last season in which he played week-in-week-out as the no.1 choice at left-back for a club.
After joining Lyon, he was deployed in a similar role to Guingamp and managed to contribute 3 assists in 18 appearances. However, in his last 2 season at the club he found himself being utilised more for his defensive capabilities, especially as Lyon brought in the more attack-minded Léo Dubois on the opposite flank. This meant that Marçal was not encouraged to be as attack-minded and was played in a mixture of both left-back and left center-back roles. This is reflected by his defensive statistics as he made on average 2.5 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game in the 2019/20 season and 2.7 tackles and 2.0 interceptions in the 2018/19 season, compared to only 1.9 tackles and 1.4 interceptions in the 2017/18 season (the season in which he was played more as an attacking fullback).
How will he fit in Nuno’s system?
His career statistics clearly show he has historically had two sides to his game and so it will be interesting to see how Nuno deploys him, as evidently in recent seasons he has been more defensive and potentially may have lost the more offensive side to his game as a left-back, which would be an issue if he were to be played as a left-wingback in place of Jonny. Given his recent success in the Champions League, helping Lyon get to the semi-finals playing as a left-sided centre-back, I would not be surprised if Nuno’s long term plan is to have him play predominantly as a centre-back, although he may feature temporarily in Jonny’s role until the Spaniard recovers from his long-term injury.
As a centre-back he could add a new dynamic to the Wolves set-up going forward, as he likes to carry the ball and help to ignite attacks from deep, which would potentially allow us to break teams down with greater ease, especially (as they occasionally did this season) when Wolves are looking out of ideas. He will also be another experienced player in the dressing room, amongst a relatively young Wolves squad. This will not only help to improve the younger players but also help overall with the squad’s mentality, giving them the resilience they need to get results out of tough opponents, as he knows what it takes to beat some of the best teams in the world.
Was Marçal a good deal for Wolves?
Whether or not Marçal is outstanding for Wolves or just a squad player, it is undeniable that bringing in a player for £1.5million with such good experience, who is versatile and has already played in a system similar to Nuno’s, is a great deal in today’s market. Almost all Wolves fans (and Nuno himself) wanted the club to bring in players who can add depth and different options in all positions across the park and Marçal will do just that. He will likely fit in well and quickly gel with the mainly lusophone dressing room and add to the exceptional mentality that the squad has, which is a big factor as to why they have been so successful in such a short period of time. Hopefully, he will be a great addition to the team and help the club to continue to build on the momentum it has created during the Fosun era.