Window Shopping: How Do Wolves Continue To Build?

Wolves’ return to the top flight went much better than even the most optimistic fans would have dreamed. They finished in 7th place, or ‘best of the rest’, reached an FA Cup semi-final for the first time in 20 years and qualified for European competition for the first time in 30.

I’ve heard the term ‘second season syndrome’ mentioned a few times for Wolves, but, unless something drastic happens, Wolves shouldn’t feel too concerned about this. It’s not as though Wolves heavily over-performed in finishing 7th, it’s actually the opposite. Wolves had the 5th best xGD in the league, conceded more than expected and scored less than expected. If anything, you could argue Wolves were unlucky not to do better.

Despite all the positivity there are areas of concern.

The first would be that Wolves lack depth. It was noted throughout the season that Wolves used very few players in the Premier League, going around ten matches without changing the starting eleven at the beginning of the season. Add in a European campaign and the squad will be under huge pressure.

At the moment there’s no immediate back-up for Matt Doherty at right-wing back, the only back-up centre-backs options are Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker, while the only midfield back-up is Romain Saiss and Morgan Gibbs-White. The squad situation can be seen below, showing how thin it looks.

The change from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 has also put Wolves in a funny position with Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and Adama Traore, who don’t naturally fit into the new shape. Of the three, Ivan Cavaleiro is probably the one who seems most suited to playing in a front two, but there is a big drop-off from the starting duo of Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez.

Wolves also struggled against the teams in the bottom half last season, which was covered up thanks to their great form against the top six. Wolves took four points from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, three from Tottenham and one from Manchester City. The only top six team that left them empty handed was Liverpool. However, they didn’t win a single away game against the bottom seven, taking just two points from an available twenty-one.

This gives Wolves a great base to build from for next season. Even if they can’t repeat their results against the top six, they can make up for them with better results against the bottom half sides.

Where Should Wolves Be Looking To Add?

Starting from the back, Wolves have no problems when it comes to goalkeepers. Rui Patricio had a decent season, while John Ruddy is a more than adequate back-up.

Defence, however, is a different matter. On the left Wolves are fine with Jonny Castro Otto and Ruben Vinagre, but reinforcement is certainly needed centrally and on the right.

Not only reinforcement, but also improvements could be used centrally. Ryan Bennett has been a key part of Wolves for the past two seasons, but it feels as though they could use an upgrade in that right centre-back role if they wish to improve further.

Not to point the finger at Bennett, but @SaturdayOnCouch found that opposition teams gained more yards down Wolves’ right-hand side than their left. This could also be due to Doherty getting further forward than Jonny and leaving space in behind, but it’s not the only area Bennett falls short.

Conor Coady and Willy Boly both have better numbers than Bennett when it comes to using and progressing the ball. Both Coady and Boly make more progressive passes p90 than Bennett and, unsurprisingly, more passes into the final third p90 than Bennett.

If Wolves want to become better at breaking down the lower sides, having both wide centre-backs be able to bring the ball out of defence feels like it would be beneficial.

Wolves could also do with bringing in a younger centre-back option for rotation. Given the only back-up options are a player who currently starts in midfield and a player who is cover for both defence and midfield, a few injuries could really harm Wolves. Bringing in an improvement on Bennett and another rotation option would make a big improvement on the quality and depth of the centre-backs.

On the right-hand side, Doherty had a hugely impressive season. He had the 4th highest xG p90 for Wolves, popping up with important goals away to Crystal Palace and Newcastle to win the games, while also assiting the winners against Burnley and Fulham at home. The only problem is that there’s no back-up for him. Adama Traore has been tried there (which I was hoping to see from the day he was signed), but doesn’t seem like it’s something that will be seen all that regularly.

Doherty is now 27-years-old, bringing in a younger option seems like it could be a good move for Wolves – mirroring the situation of having 25-year-old Jonny and 20-year-old Ruben Vinagre on the left.

Moving forward into midfield and nothing seems to be changed for the starting trio.

Ruben Neves has good numbers for progressing the ball and winning it back and is still only 22-years-old. He does, however, have the 2nd lowest dribble success rate of midfielders 24-years-old and younger in Europe’s top five leagues this season, suggesting he’s vulnerable should he be pressed.

Joao Moutinho came in to have a huge effect, having the most assists for Wolves, 2nd highest xA p90 and the 2nd highest passes into the final third p90.

Leander Dendoncker came into the starting eleven around the mid-way point of the season and my initial criticism was going to be that the Wolves midfield is too negative, meaning the Dendoncker position could be given to a midfielder with more of a goal threat. However, after looking at the data, this isn’t true at all. For central midfielders in the Premier League last season Dendoncker had the 7th highest NPxG p90, behind only Paul Pogba, David Silva, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Aaron Ramsey and Dele Alli.

The problem with the midfield, like the defence, comes with the back-up. Morgan Gibbs-White seems a good fit for the Moutinho role and should hopefully be given more minutes next season. Saiss has some really strong numbers for progressing the ball and winning it back, so can cover Neves well, but that leaves Dendoncker without a back-up.

Taking all of this into account, a back-up midfielder would probably be a useful addition.

The front-line follows a similar story. Jota and Jimenez struck up a good partnership, with both having strong underlying numbers, but there isn’t a ‘natural striker’ back-up for Jimenez.

Cavaleiro had the 3rd best xG p90 for Wolves last season and could be kept for a back-up for Jota, however, Helder Costa has only played 45 minutes of league football in the past three months and doesn’t seem a good fit for the new system. It seems Wolves may be best selling Costa and putting the funds towards a rotation option for Jimenez.

To summarise, Wolves should be looking at a starting centre-back to improve on Bennett, a back-up centre-back, a back-up right wing-back, an alternative to Dendoncker and a back-up for Jimenez. The next question is who could they be targeting for these roles?

I should say, I find it really hard to predict Wolves’ transfers. I remember looking at who they could sign in Nuno’s first season, looking mostly at Championship players as they’d just finished towards the bottom of the division, then they went and signed Neves, Jota and Boly. Then, last season I would have never thought of Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho or even Jonny to be realistic options either.

Potential Additions

Centre-Back

I’ve said it a few times, but I’m really not good at looking for centre-backs. Given one of Bennett’s weaknesses is his ability on the ball, I’ll mostly be looking for players with good progressive passing numbers and bonus points for those who have lined up on the right-side of a back three and/or come from a side with a strong defence.

One name that could be of interest for Wolves is 20-year-old Jules Kounde from Bordeaux. Bourdeaux had a poor season in 2018/19, finishing in 14th place and conceding the 6th most xG in the division, which isn’t encouraging. Kounde, however, put up some strong numbers for progressive passes, with 10.2 p90 – more than both Bennett and Coady, but marginally less than Boly.

He seems to be a different type of centre-back compared to the current Wolves three. He’s not physically imposing like Bennett or Boly, but he seems a lot more mobile. He’s still only young and sometimes it can show, but there’s a lot to like. In the below clip he misjudges the flight of the ball, but has the pace to get back and make a recovery challenge.

Again, the initial misjudgment doesn’t fill you with confidence, but a more mobile centre-back could be a good option in that right centre-back slot for Wolves.

With Doherty pushing forward and often getting into goal-scoring positions, the right centre-back is left with a lot of space to cover. Bennett isn’t very mobile and this is likely why he picked up so many yellow cards last season, amassing 12 in total or 0.33 p90. When tasked with an attacker and lots of space in behind he tended to bring them down, whereas you’d imagine Kounde could do a better job of covering that space.

Not to mention, with three centre-backs and Neves sat in front of them, having a centre-back be more aggressive when it comes to winning the ball back higher up the pitch may also be a nice alternative for Wolves.

I’d have to see a lot more of him, but I do quite like the look of Kounde. His mobility offers a big plus when it comes to the space left by Doherty, he already has more than 5000 minutes of Ligue 1 football under his belt, while his numbers show him to be a lot more progressive and technically better on the ball than Bennett. I haven’t included any, but there’s plenty of clips of him pinging long passes out wide, which will certainly make him a good fit in Wolves’ back three.

Another young option Wolves could be looking at is 21-year-old Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic. Ajer’s progressive pass numbers have been impressive over the past two seasons. In 2018/19 his 8.1 p90 is higher than Bennett’s 7.1 p90, while in 2017/18 he played 9.7 p90, more than Coady’s 9.4 p90.

It’s not surprising that Celtic had the best xG conceded in the Scottish league for the previous two seasons, but Ajer still had strong individual defensive numbers. He was involved in slightly more duels than Bennett (7.53 p90 vs 6.13 p90) and also had a higher success rate (28.8% vs 24.1%).

Physically he seems to fit Wolves’ back three more than Kounde, being 1.96m tall, but, like Kounde, he does have plenty of minutes under his belt despite being young. He may also come at a smaller price than Kounde, going off their TransferMarkt value and the fact that Kounde is playing in a bigger league.

It’s only two short clips, but the clips below show that he’s more than comfortable on the ball and can bring it out of defence, while he’s also capable of picking a pass.

A peak age option for Wolves could be Aissa Mandi from Real Betis. I’m not sure how realistic of a suggestion this is, but, like I mentioned earlier, that’s never seemed to stop Wolves in the past.

I mentioned Mandi in my piece looking at Arsenal this summer, but he could also be a great fit for Wolves. He tends to play as the right centre-back in a back three for Betis, has some of the best passing numbers for centre-backs in Europe and strong duel numbers.

He made 12.1 progressive passes p90 last season, almost doubling Ryan Bennett’s numbers, while also winning 30% of his 6.45 defensive duels p90.

At 27-years-old he can come in and make an immediate impact and, given Betis missed out on European football this season, there’s no reason to think Wolves couldn’t be a tempting offer. His release clause is reportedly ~£27m, which is questionable value for someone who will turn 28-years-old in October and only has two years remaining on his deal, but Mandi does seem to be one of the best options out there.

An interesting younger, rotation option for Wolves could be Jean-Kevin Duverene from Lens. I only know of him thanks to @SBunching who mentioned him in a good piece looking at older data and progressive passes.

The 21-year-old had huge progressive pass numbers in Ligue 2 with 13.3 p90 in 2016/17 and 11.9 in 2017/18. He then suffered a bad injury before coming back in 2018/19, where he played 1452 minutes and played 12.52 progressive passes p90.

In his entire time in Ligue 2, he’s also averaged 6.75 defensive duels p90 with a 29.6% success rate.

TransferMarkt has his contract as expiring next summer, suggesting he could be available for good value. There would be some risk involved after his injury, but the fact that he came back in 2018/19 and put up strong numbers again is hugely encouraging.

If Wolves were to splash out on someone like Mandi, Duverene could make a good value pick-up to add a younger rotation option to the squad.

I’ll leave the centre-back options here. I’ve only looked at a few younger names and there’s plenty more options out there, but these are a few that stood out for me.

Mandi offers the best immediate option, but the value of the deal is questionable if they have to pay the release clause in full. I really like the look of Kounde, who can offer something different to the current batch, is still incredibly young but can still make an immediate impact, while Ajer seems like a good fit and seems likely to be cheaper than Kounde. Duverene feels like a good value option and it could be worth bringing him in regardless of other options, with plenty of minutes available next season he could be a good value buy.

Right Wing-Back

Moving onto to right wing-back, there isn’t the pressure of finding someone who can make an immediate impact. A young prospect who can get minutes when Doherty could do with being rested is all that is required.

There are a few young wing-backs, with strong attacking numbers, who fit this bill.

One option could be 19-year-old Alexis Saelemaekers from Anderlecht. He broke into the first team towards the back end of 2017/18 and has put up some strong numbers since.

He has played right wing as well as right wing-back, which could skew the numbers slightly, but he still seems like he may be a good rotation option for Doherty.

Comparing his numbers to Doherty’s last season, he was slightly more creative, with an xA of 0.18 p90 compared to Doherty’s 0.15 p90, made much more passes into the penalty area (4.78 p90 vs 2.39 p90), more deep completed passes (1.37 p90 vs 1.04 p90) and more deep completed crosses (1.3 p90 vs 0.74 p90).

He doesn’t have the same goal threat as Doherty, having an xG of 0.04 p90 compared to Doherty’s 0.14 p90, making it no surprise he takes a lot less touches in the box too (0.93 p90 vs 2.5 p90).

Then, Saelemaekers attempts more crosses but has a slightly lower completion rate, but attempts 6.12 dribbles p90 compared to Doherty’s 2.48 p90. On the defensive side Saelemaekers is more active (9.98 duels p90 vs 6.58 p90), but is marginally less successful (20.45% vs 23.43%).

He also seems confident with both feet, allowing him to go on the outside and cross, or cut inside and look for a pass, similar to how Doherty often likes to drift inwards as well as the usual overlapping run.

There’s a few clips below that showing him coming inside and using his left foot, as well as a cross and long pass with his right.

I have to say, I’m feeling all in on Saelemaekers at the minute. He’s a perfect age, has strong numbers, looks good in what I’ve seen of him and, given Wolves signed Dendoncker from Anderlecht for ~£12m, you’d imagine he could be bought for under £10m (though there isn’t much logic behind that argument).

There are some other options out there, particularly in Serie A. 21-year-old Pol Lirola had some strong numbers for Sassuolo, with an xA of 0.18 p90 and 1.89 deep completed crosses p90, however, given he’s starting for Sassuolo, it feels unlikely he’d be happy to come and be a rotation option for Wolves.

22-year-old Fabio Depaoli, playing for bottom placed Chievo last season, could be another option. His xA of 0.11 p90 is slightly behind Doherty’s, but he did manage more deep completed passes and crosses p90 than the Irish international.

Depaoli also had a good cross completion rate and seems to have a good delivery from what I’ve seen of him, although his defensive duel rate isn’t so impressive. With Chievo getting relegated you’d imagine he could be available at a fair price, while he’s still only 22-years-old and has experience in one of the top five leagues.

The last Serie A name that stood out was 23-year-old Federico Mattiello on loan at Bologna from Atalanta. Mattiello’s xA of 0.09 p90 isn’t too impressive compared to the other names mentioned, yet he has huge numbers for deep completed crosses, with 2.28 p90 – the 4th most for right-backs in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

He had a few injury problems this season and didn’t play that many minutes, but he could be worth looking into further.

The last option that caught my eye was 19-year-old Pedro Porro from Girona. Looking at right-backs 23-years-old and under in the top five leagues in 2018/19, Porro had the 7th highest xA p90 (0.12 p90), 3rd most passes into the penalty area p90 (4.28 p90), 10th most deep completed passes p90 (0.92 p90), 2nd most deep completed crosses p90 (1.72 p90) and 4th most dribbles p90 (5.04 p90).

Given Girona were relegated you’d also assume there’s a good chance for a deal to be done. He’s a perfect age, has strong numbers and has the advantage of doing well in a strong league, playing for a not so strong side, which is the reverse situation of Saelemaekers.

From the above Saelemaekers and Porro are my two favourite options. They’re both a good age, with good numbers and possibly representing good value for money. If Wolves could bring one of these two in, they’d have two good peak age options and two good young options available for either flank.

Midfielder

I usually like looking for midfielders more than any other position, I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s usually where it feels most fun. This time, however, I’ve really struggled finding players that felt like they could be a good addition to this Wolves squad.

One name that could be interesting is 21-year-old Dani Olmo from Dinamo Zagreb. I mentioned him in my Arsenal piece so I won’t talk about him much here, but he could be a good buy. He’s young, but has lots of minutes, and has good output and dribbling numbers. He also offers Wolves some flexibility. He can play as an attacking #8 in the 3-5-2, drifting wide to combine with Doherty, or, if Wolves revert to 3-4-3, he can line up either side of the striker.

With Neves, Jota and Dendoncker all performing well, plus Vinagre and Gibbs-White impressing in limited minutes, Wolves could set themselves up to be a club who’s willing to give minutes to younger players and be an attractive prospect to players like Olmo. Big clubs have been tracking him for a while, but Wolves could offer him more minutes, while still playing in the Premier League and (at least for next season) Europa League.

Elsewhere, ex-Liverpool man Marko Grujic has some impressive numbers for Hertha BSC, albeit from limited minutes. Joan Jordan from Eibar has some strong numbers and is entering the last year of his contract, ex-Newcastle man Mikel Merino had some good numbers at Newcastle and they’ve seemed to follow him to Sociedad.

21-year-old Toulouse midfielder Ibrahim Sangare feels as though he could be the best choice out there. I mentioned him as an alternative to Jefferson Lerma for Bournemouth last season, as he also has strong defensive numbers, but is a lot better and more progressive on the ball, with both his passing and dribbling. @MoeSquare also wrote a piece about him over on StatsBomb.

For central midfielders 23-years-old and younger in Europe’s top five leagues last season, Sangare had the 4th most passes into the final third p90, behind just Arthur, Fabian Ruiz and Maxime Lopez (and one ahead of Ruben Neves). He attempts 3.29 dribbles p90, which doesn’t jump off the page, but is still impressive – for some kind of reference Tanguy Ndombele attempted 4.56 p90.

Sangare had the 9th best defensive duel success rate, as well as the 9th most possession adjusted interceptions p90.

He didn’t have as many touches in the box as Dendoncker, 1.94 p90 vs 0.75 p90, but there’s a good chance this is down to the system rather than his ability. Dendoncker only managed 0.86 touches in the box p90 during his final season with Anderlecht.

Sangare definitely feels like he could thrive in the role Dendoncker is playing in, although Wolves could face some competition with a few stories suggesting Lyon are interested in him as a potential replacement for Tanguy Ndombele. The fee being mentioned in these stories is €15m and if Toulouse are willing to sell him for that, Wolves should definitely make an attempt to sing him.

Forward

Domestic Options

There seems to be quite a few forwards based in England that could be a good choice for Wolves this summer.

A name that Wolves have been linked with in recent weeks is Salomon Rondon from West Brom, who could apparently be available for ~£15m.

Rondon had some strong numbers for Newcastle last season, his xG of 0.4 p90 being almost the same as Raul Jimenez’s 0.41 p90, he’s good at holding up the ball, is a known quantity and is available. The negative would be that he’s 30-years-old this year, but he’s a more than adequate back-up option for the short-term. I wouldn’t hate this deal, but it’s also worth looking at what other options are out there.

Looking at the relegated clubs, there’s Aleksander Mitrovic from Fulham and Steve Mounie from Huddersfield who could both be interesting choices.

Looking at his entire time in the Premier League, with both Newcastle and Fulham, Mitrovic has averaged an xG of 0.45 p90, while still being only 24-years-old, at least until September. Like Rondon and Jimenez, he’s good at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. He reportedly could be available at £30m, which is a fair price, but given it’s what Wolves just shelled out on Jimenez, it seems unlikely they’d go and spend that on Mitrovic as well.

Steve Mounie is a player that could combine the value for money of Rondon with the better age of Mitrovic. Despite playing for a Huddersfield side that created very little, Steve Mounie still had respectable underlying numbers. Across his two seasons with Huddersfield he averaged 0.31 xG p90, in Ligue 1 with Montpellier he had 0.39 xG p90, while in 2015/16 in Ligue 2 with Nimes he managed 0.41 xG p90.

With Huddersfield getting relegated you’d imagine that Mounie is available and you’d imagine Huddersfield would want to recoup the ~£11m they spent on him, so if he’s available for £10-15m I probably would prefer it than the names mentioned so far. He’s a good age, has strong numbers and seems to represent better value than the choices mentioned.

There’s also Danny Welbeck who looks as though he will be available on a free this summer.

He’s 28-years-old and has had awful luck with injuries in recent seasons, but he has averaged an xG of 0.38 p90 across the last four seasons. It’s certainly an option worth exploring, but given he’d probably be on big wages, particularly for more of a back-up option, and his injury history, it seems like it might not be worth the risk.

Moving down a division and 22-year-old Neal Maupay could be someone worth looking into for Wolves. Still with his peak years ahead of him, Maupay has put up some strong numbers for Brentford over the last two seasons, averaging an xG of 0.58 p90.

He was linked with a £20m move to Aston Villa in January and it seems like a reasonable fee. He’s good enough to be a rotation option, while probably being just about young enough to be Jimenez’s successor, given Jimenez is now 28-years-old. Not to mention, he should already be a fan favourite at Molineux, scoring an equaliser against Fulham which secured Wolves’ automatic promotion in 2017/18.

From the above, Mounie and Maupay are my favourite two options for the mixture of underlying numbers, age and value, but I wouldn’t hate if Wolves did just go out and get Rondon for £15m.

The Mendes Option

A lot of Wolves’ success over the past couple of seasons is thanks to a close relationship with agent Jorge Mendes, who represents the likes of Nuno, Neves, Jota, Patricio, Moutinho, Costa and Cavaleiro. It also means whenever the transfer window rolls around Wolves get linked with a couple of his clients. Off the top of my head, I’ve seen stories linking Wolves with Goncalo Guedes, Joao Cancelo, Andre Gomes, Nelson Oliveira, Renato Sanches and Andre Silva.

The name that could be an option this summer is Andre Silva. Silva made a big move to Milan back in 2017, but didn’t have the best of seasons in Italy so was shipped out on loan to Sevilla where, again, he didn’t have the best of seasons – scoring just twice in the league after September.

Despite what looks like a poor showing, Silva has had pretty solid underlying numbers in both of the last two seasons. At Sevilla he had an xG of 0.4 p90, while at Milan it was 0.36 p90. It doesn’t match his xG of 0.67 p90 during his final season with Porto, but it doesn’t seem bad enough for him to be outcast in the way he has been.

Could Wolves be the club to help Silva get back on track?

It’s definitely possible, not only is there the Mendes connection, but Nuno was the manager of Porto when Silva had his breakout season back in 2016/17.

Again, it does feel unlikely that Wolves shell out ~£30m on a striker as well as Jimenez, but most of Wolves transfer business in the past couple of windows has been unlikely. Not to mention, Nuno does seem to like signing players he’s previously worked with, signing all of Roderick Miranda, Boly, Neves, Rafa Mir and Jota for Wolves.

Other Options

Looking outside domestic leagues and the top five leagues, two names Wolves could look into are 22-year-old Albian Ajeti from Basel and 21-year-old Fedor Chalov from CSKA Moscow.

Ajeti is a player I mentioned in an older (now deleted) piece as he has some seriously impressive numbers. He’s played just over 7000 minutes in the Swiss league, averaging an xG of 0.49 p90. In 2018/19 he had the highest total xG, 3rd highest p90, as well as the most touches in the box – both p90 and total.

He seems to be comfortable with both feet as well as being a threat in the air, while watching clips of him also show that he’s capable of running into the channels and holding the ball up well too. The below video shows some clips of this.

Looking at Basel’s record sales, getting Ajeti in the £10-15m range seems somewhat feasible. Mohamed Elyounoussi joined Southampton for ~£16m last season, which is their third biggest sale. Then, while it was back in 2013/14, Mohamed Salah left for ~£15m and seemed to be a bigger name than Ajeti.

Fedor Chalov is a name I’m only familiar with due to seeing @AshwinRaman_ tweet about him. Having only turned 21-years-old in April, this seems to be his breakout season. He played ~1000 minutes in 2017/18 and ~700 in 2016/17, but seemed to be more of a regular in 2018/19.

In 2018/19 Chalov averaged an xG of 0.45 p90. He had the 2nd highest total xG in the Russian league and the 2nd highest total xG + xA. For those with more than 900 minutes he had 3rd highest xG p90 and the 2nd highest touches in the box p90.

Before watching some video of him, judging from the xG and touches in the box, I assumed he’d be a target man type forward, but his dribbling/close control and hold-up play seems to be a huge strength too. The video below shows some of this. It’s only four clips, but these were some of my favourites when looking at his all round play.

Conclusion

Wolves are in a good position. They’ve built a squad at a good age for good value and don’t need drastic changes this summer. They mostly just need to bulk up slightly ready for a campaign with Europa League football.

With that being said, Wolves don’t want to rest on their laurels and risk stagnating. It’s important from here they continue to build and improve, however, considering their trajectory over the last two seasons, it feels as though they will.

To summarise the above, Wolves should be looking to buy two new centre-backs, preferably one to start and a younger one, a back-up right wing-back, another midfielder and a back-up striker.

From the names I mentioned above Aissa Mandi feels as though he’d be the best centre-back option, but would likely cost a premium price – particularly for a player his age.

Given Wolves don’t need to spend big elsewhere, they could justify it if they think it’s going to take them to the next level. If they were to buy Mandi, then signing a cheaper, younger centre-back like Ajer or Duverene could be good. If Mandi isn’t a realistic option, then Kounde would be my next pick for that right centre-back slot.

At right-wing back my favourites were Saelemaekers and Pedro Porro, while Sangare would be my pick in midfield – although Dani Olmo would be a nice addition too.

The striker is a more difficult position to choose.

I’d favour one of the younger options of Ajeti or Chalov, who could provide good value and have room to grow, but going for a more known/safe option may be beneficial. In my mind, Mounie and Maupay feel as though they’re in the middle of the safe and good value Venn diagram and I’d probably prefer one of those two over Rondon, but I’d prefer one of Ajeti or Chalov over one of those two.

Equally important for Wolves is that they keep hold of what they have, particularly the young group of Neves, Jota, Gibbs-White and Vinagre. Wolves have a good chance to build something special and, given they’re not in any financial problems, shouldn’t be looking to offload a key player (or one with big potential) unless the player absolutely wants to go.

Looking at outgoings, I think Wolves could sell someone like Helder Costa to raise some funds. Ivan Cavaleiro had a productive season and can play a role as understudy to Jota, but Costa hasn’t looked 100% since his ankle injury back in 2017, while he now also finds himself not fitting into the current system.

Putting all of that together, with my preferred signings, Wolves’ squad would look something like this.

Coady has no obvious back-up, but with Saiss and Dendoncker being able to cover it should be fine, particularly after adding Sangare and two new centre-backs. You could argue that Wolves could still add Kounde, if they wanted further defensive additions, or they could go for Kounde over (Ajer / Duverene) and still not spend that much.

Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to see how Wolves follow up on this campaign and how they cope with the demands of European football.

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