Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate. 
I think this Wolves team puts up a good fight to stay in the league, but I think there is a real possibility of them visiting the Championship at least once more before they come up and stay up. I’m going to be optimistic and say that they finish just above the relegation line. I think that Wolves have made some great transfer moves this season, but am a little perplexed about their squad identity though.
They have two quality defensive midfielders, but are much more thin at a pure central midfielder, they also seem to have an exorbitant amount of striker/forward talent especially considering they played roughly half of their games with only one forward (supported by two attacking midfielders); they have 6 strikers on their roster. I don’t think that wolves realistically thinks they are going to be able to stay up by scoring goals alone, and I’m not sure that their defense has followed the attack. Willy Boly helps to correct this imbalance but it remains to be seen if it’s enough.
The midfield situation concerns me a little also, because of: Ben Marshall leaving with no incoming players, and the reliance on youth players. They have been operating between a 4 or 5 midfielder set up. The left and right sided midfielders have been being filled with left or right backs. I am hoping that Wolves’ transfer business isn’t done and that they pull in some midfield support.
Ins:

  • Adama Traoré ($22M from Middlesbrough FC) – Across all competitions Traoré made 40 appearances and contributed 5 goals and 12 assists while averaging 70′ per game. These numbers also came from a side that scored the fewest goals in the top-6 with the highest scorer netting only 15. I think that Traoré has shown massive potential and when surrounded by a full team of Premier League talent, it should manifest in buckets of assists. He is also a young player at only 22, so it’s likely he could still improve in at least the mental areas of the game; though I expect him to continue to mature and stake a claim for regular first team appearances for a long time coming.
  • Diogo Jota  ($15.5M from Atlético Madrid) – Jota was on loan from Atlético last season at Wolves, he played very well for Wolves (probably indicated by the fact they spent $15M to make him a permanent player). He played mostly on the wing for Wolves last season (36 on the left, 1 on the right) and while playing in wide positions he scored 12 goals and added 7 assists; while playing as striker he added 6 more goals,  and an assist. Solid pick for Wolves, and I’m not even really deterred by the fee, as Jota is only 21 years old and could improve and provide worth far beyond this fee. In 2016-2017 he played for a Porto team that finished 2nd in the Portuguese first division and added 9 goals with 7 assists. 2015-2016 season he played for a different Portuguese Premier League team and scored 14 goals, 10 assists. Keep an eye on this player (maybe even a DFS option), if his track record for the past 3 years continues — he might turn up to be a steal for Wolves, or make them a healthy profit. In addition, Jota has made a number of appearances as a U21 international for Portugal, but has not yet made a senior debut.
  • Willy Boly ($13M from FC Porto) – Like Jota, Boly was also on loan at Wolves last season, he jumped right into the first team and played well, he started 36 times and was subbed on for another out of a possible 46 matches. Boly has made a number of appearances as a U21 international with France. In addition to his defensive duties, Boly also contributed to the offensive side of the game with 3 goals, 2 assists. I think this move turns out well for Wolves too, he fits well in their system and is getting ample playing time. He was not consistently receiving playing time for Porto, averaging only about 15 appearances per season over the last 2 seasons. For me, the fee seems a little high for a 27 year old player who has been riding the pine at Porto, but the Wolves management saw fit to complete the deal. It’s not my money, and I’m just an analyst 🙂
  • Benik Afobe ($12.5M from Bournemouth) – I’m not going to spend too much time on Afobe, because as you’ll notice — he’s listed in both the Ins and the Outs category. This isn’t a mistake — the club made $2.5M on their investment in a couple days (officially Afobe is on loan until the winter transfer window but the transfer is confirmed so its only a formality at this time).
  • Léo Bonatini ($4.5M from Al-Hilal FC) – Bonatini is moving from Hilal in the Saudi Premier League, after joining them for $6M from Portuguese 2nd division club Estoríl in 2016. Bonatini played one year for Hilal, where he scored 15 goals, 4 assists in 36 appearances, and one year on loan with Wolves, where he scored 12 goals, 6 assists in 47 appearances. He featured very consistently for Wolves last year on loan, and although his production dipped a little in the Championship, I expect continued development. Wolves seems like they are robbing the cradle as Hilal paid more for the player, and then loaned him off to Wolves who were eventually able to buy him for $1.5M less than Hilal had. Bonatini is still a younger player in the side, and the coaching staff was clearly impressed with him. He may end up having to split time with Raúl Jiménez unless a change of formations is in the cards, however, I think they could probably “shift” into a two striker formation. I expect him to be a rotation option this year, though he will probably start at behind Jiménez on the depth chart.
  • Raúl Jiménez ($3.3M loan from Benefica) – Jiménez joins Wolves for the season on loan for a fee of a little over $3M. In August of 2015, Atlético Madrid sold him to Benefica (making a $12.7M profit from what they paid). In the 2015-2016 season, he made 45 appearances for Benefica (including 10 in the Champions League) scoring 12 goals, and adding 5 assists; the 2016-2017 season was hampered by injuries but he still managed 32 appearances, 11 goals, and 3 assists. In his most recent season he remained fit though his goal scoring-form dropped somewhat, as he had 43 appearances with 8 goals and 7 assists. I think that Jiménez is meant to be a stopgap for losing Afobe, and I think he’ll prove to be a very capable one at that. Although his production was reduced some last year, he’s still averaging a goal or assist every 258 minutes and I think he’ll fit well into this side. He’s a current Mexican international that has 65 caps and 13 goals to his name. Solid signing, I think he will justify his loan fee and probably a bunch more.
  • Rui Patrício (Free Transfer from Sporting CP) – Patrício comes having left Sporting where he has been since 2001-2002 where he joined the Sporting U15s. He’s had a terrific career in the Portuguese First Division, where he compiled 326 appearances, with an astonishing 135 career shutouts and only giving up 276 goals. Will Norris, the current keeper is not a bad keeper, so I anticipate that his time with the team isn’t over. That being said, Patrício over his career in the Portuguese Premier League averaged 0.85/goals per 90′. Ultimately, I think Patrício probably has an advantage  and will be the man in goal for most of the Wolves action this season. Sporting was not happy to lose the player, but Patrício had been keen to be released from his contract following attacks on the Sporting training facility as well as some coaches and staff.
  • Rúben Vinagre (Not Disclosed from AS Monaco B) – Vinagre is a steal for Wolves, as the player was courted by Manchester United publicly, so for Wolves to be able to sign him to a 5-year contract is a definite victory. The specific terms of the transfer have not been released, but there’s likely one of two scenarios; either Vinagre signed permanent terms (as opposed to a youth contract) with Wolves instead of Monaco but this seems somewhat less likely because the Portuguese player was sent on loan to Wolves last year. The second option is that he was offered a 2-year professional contract by Monaco (which would have expired at the end of the 2017) and opted against a new contract with the club. Although this technically makes him a free agent, UEFA generally applies certain clauses to free transfers under the age of 23 which might give Monaco some financial clauses for “training compensation”. These clauses could be sold by Monaco to Wolves at a later date.
  • Paulo Alves “Paulinho” (Free Transfer from Liverpool)
    The 20-year old was let go from Liverpool, but was snapped up by Wolves. He’s expected to join up with U23 team at Wolves, but is expected to be able to provide some depth in the coming years. He made a few (5) appearances in the youth team’s equivalent of the Premier League last season, but Liverpool literally led that league from day one, meaning that his lack of appearances probably isn’t particularly alarming.
  • João Moutinho ($7.5m from AS Monaco)
    Moutinho arrived at Monaco at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season where he’s been a mainstay in the midfield. He’s made 219 appearances in the league for Monaco since that time scoring 11 goals while providing 39 assists. Moutinho has also played a bunch in the Champions League which should bode well for Wolves. In addition to consistent appearances in the Champions League, he’s also been a near automatic selection for the Portuguese nation team racking up 113 appearancs with 7 more goals, and 25 more assists. If the reported transfer amount is right, I think this is a steal for Wolves to get a player of his reputation, caliber, and experience.

Outs:

  • Benik Afobe ($15M to Stoke City) – See Afobe notes above. I can’t fault Wolves for making some quick money, this is a sure thing — everything else in soccer is a gamble.
  • Barry Douglas ($3.75M to Leeds United) – I think the Douglas move probably is a result of Wolves picking up Vinagre, as Douglas is by no means a bad player. He played 42 games for Wolves scoring 5 goals and assisting on 15 more across the way. I think this is really just a way to free up some cash flow (maybe for the wage bill). Adding all these players in the window is likely to have an effect, needing extra salary money might be that effect.
  • Ben Marshall ($1.9M to Norwich) – Marshall featured in roughly half of Wolves’ matches last year after joining from Blackburn Rovers for $1.9M. He contributed 3 goals and 6 assists across that time. I think this move is a result of a youth prospect, Ben Stevenson, coming along more quickly than intended. The ability to move a Marshall back to a Championship squad, realizing that he has a limited future, on for the same fee they paid to acquire him while giving time to a youth prospect makes some sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wolves stay in the market for a central midfielder at the right price, but it seems like they are planning to give some youth a chance. All in all, I’m going to rate this as To Be Determined (TBD), I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that the youth prospect is ready, but I also think that it could backfire and additionally, I think they probably could have done better with the transfer fee.
  • Jon Flatt (Free Transfer to Scunthorpe United) – Flatt seems to have a been a youth prospect that Wolves was hoping to be able to utilize but has spent substantial time on loans, and never above Tier 3. It appears that Wolves have decided that the player is not going to be able to compete for playing time with the first team, and is at or nearly at his potential. No impact expected to club.

Last updated: August 8, 2018

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