Where do Wolves need to strengthen?
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Wolves Chairman Jeff Shi (L) stands alongside Wolves Director Sky Sun during the Premier League match between Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Goodison Park on September 1, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

With this year being sold as a 'transition' season, how is this transfer window affected and do Wolverhampton Wanderers have areas that need to be filled imminently under Nuno Espirito Santo

Many players have been linked to the Molineux, with some names that would no doubt have a big effect on the club, both in the dressing room and on the salary budget.

VAVEL takes a look at the current Wolves squad and evaluates each aspect of the squad, with the notion of hopefully securing European football next season.

  • The Goalkeepers

Rui Patricio has been one of the best goalkeepers that Wolves have ever had between the sticks. The Portuguese is a legend amongst his fellow compatriots and has been a consistent cog in Nuno's side. 

This season has been a little different for him, having made less saves per game than in the previous seasons. It is hard to judge whether this is down to a lack of form, or due to the change information from a back three to a back four.

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The two previous seasons suggests that Patricio should be given the benefit of the doubt and at the age of 32, he still has plenty of years ahead of him. 

A lot of questions were aimed at John Ruddy Friday evening, as he took the reins for the FA Cup fixture. His previous exploits as the 'cup keeper' have seen him make some big errors, leading to fans not having much confidence with him in goal.

Ruddy was in goal for the Nuno's first season in the Championship, in which they emerged as champions with a superb defensive record. Arguments could be made that having such a strong defence in front of him was a major factor here, but he still put in some good performances.

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Being realistic, a team like Wolves cannot have two top Premier League goalkeepers in their side. So having Ruddy as a happy back-up to Patricio is a pretty good deal for the club. The alternative would be to have a younger player in to be mentored by Patricio, but young goalkeepers with bags of potential do not come cheap.

Summary: Unless there is an injury to Patricio, Wolves are very strong in this area, so no changes are needed.

  • The Defenders

In the last 3 seasons under Nuno, Wolves have been very strong defensively, with their back three being a major aspect of their success. This season, Nuno has experimented with a back four, after his captain Conor Coady was suspended. 

The back four has been a very chaotic formation so far for the side, allowing the team to be more expansive going forward, but also leaving them very shaky at the back.

Moving forwards, Wolves will probably look to stick to a back four, so is this new formation in need of new reinforcements?

Nelson Semedo came in for the Matt Doherty at the start of the season and after a patchy start, has started to show his qualities as an attacking full-back and why the club brought him to the club.

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Although there are questions still about his defensive positioning, Semedo is becoming a solid option for Wolves on the right side of the defence. On the left, there is a choice of either experience with Marcal or youth with Rayan Ait-Nouri

Both of these players are great options for Wolves and with Jonny Castro Otto on his way back from a long-term injury, the side are very solid with full-backs. 

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Now if we consider that Wolves operate with a back four, Nuno can only choose two centre-backs. Wolves have generally had the same central defenders since their days in the Championship, with a lot of fans calling for a top defender to be brought in.

Coady has been playing at a level which has seen him called up for England, in which he did not look out of place when he put on the jersey. Willy Boly is one of the best centre-backs outside of the 'top six' and his recent time on the sidelines has been prevalent in recent matches, with the defence clearly missing his influence.

Boly's absence has given Romain Saiss a platform to show his qualities, with the Moroccan becoming a firm favourite amongst the fans. It will be hard enough for Nuno to pick between Saiss, Coady and Boly when all three are fit, let alone a new centre-back signing.

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The recent change in formation has also seen Maximilian Kilman drop to the bench, with the 23-year-old putting in some remarkable performances. He is definitely a fantastic option to have as back-up and can easily slot back in.

Summary:  Unless Wolves are willing to pay a ridiculous fee for a top centre-back, they have enough options in the side to field a strong defence. The team just needs to get used to the new formation. 

  • The Centre of Midfield

Wolves have a good range of options in the middle of the park. Ruben Neves is fast becoming one of the best all-round central midfielders. The 23-year-old has his best years ahead of him and he would not look out of place in some of Europe's top elite teams. 

Alongside him, Wolves have another top player, who always seems to always go under the radar. Leander Dendoncker is such a key player for the side and the team normally play well when he is in the lineup. It will be hard to find a better box-to-box midfielder than the Belgian, so as long as he is fit, Wolves are strong in this area.

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Joao Moutinho is another player that Nuno can call upon to put in a shift for the side. He is still more than capable of being a strong option for the side when called upon and a positive figure to have inside the dressing room.

Owen Otasowie has been another player that Nuno has introduced this season, who has shown great flashes of potential in his appearances so far. His best position still seems to be a mystery, but with more games, the American could have a bright future in Wolverhampton.

On loan, Wolves have the 20-year-old Vitinha, who has impressed in his brief appearances on the pitch so far this season. If Wolves do not intend on purchasing him though, it does seem like a bit of a wasted opportunity, which could pave the way to another player.

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The club have just called back Morgan Gibbs-White, who was looking fantastic on loan in the Championship until his unfortunate injury hindered his development.

The jury is still out on him, with his appearances in a Wolves shirt not really living up to the level necessary to become a permanent fixture in midfield. The recall though gives the young lad an opportunity once again on the Premier League stage.

With both Vitinha and Gibbs-White, maybe Nuno feels that they are capable of filling the central attacking midfielder role. However, this could be a potential area that Wolves could look to strengthen in if a valid option becomes available, as Gibbs-White could be loaned back out to make room again.

Summary: A quality central attacking midfielder would be valuable to Wolves. However, with Gibbs-White being recalled, Nuno obviously feels that he can make do with what he has currently. With Dendoncker back in the side, the rest of the central midfield is competitive enough for Premier League football.

  • The Wingers

Diogo Jota leaving Wolves was seen as a very contentious move by fans, especially with him going on an incredible run of form under Jurgen Klopp. With the goals drying up, it is easy to suggest that Jota's absence had a direct impact on this.

Wolves have some of the best dribblers in the league on their books. Adama Traore on his day is unstoppable. He is such a unique talent that you would rather have him in your squad than against. The Spaniard just needs to find more consistency in his performances.

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One of Wolves' best players this season has been Pedro Neto. The young Portuguese has excelled this season, easily displaying that he is one of the most talented young players in the league. 

Of course, this season has also seen the brilliance of Daniel Podence. The 25-year-old has really come into his own this season, with some fantastic skills on the ball that have been very entertaining to watch.

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With the club normally playing with two wingers, it is difficult to fit all three into the side. This also means that Wolves are very strong in this area, with 18-year-old Theo Corbeanu also impressing in the U23s to give Nuno a good back-up option.

Summary: Wolves have some of the best wingers in the league and should only look to add another if they sell one. Otherwise, no changes are necessary.

  • The Strikers

This area is now a big problem with Raul Jimenez out indefinitely. Wolves are most likely to be without their main striker and top goalscorer for the rest of the season.

What also is a problem is that strikers tend to be the most expensive players to obtain in transfer windows.

Wolves signed Fabio Silva in the summer to be an obvious understudy of Jimenez, who would then go on to take up the mantle of the man up top one day.

The 18-year-old has had his development accelerated, being thrown into the first team to fill the giant chasm that Jimenez's absence has left.

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With the team under-performing, Silva has been a prime target as a scapegoat for some fans, which is quite harsh on the young striker. This situation should not have arisen, as the club gambled on only having two recognised strikers in the squad at the start of the season.

To combat this problem, Nuno has brought back Patrick Cutrone into the fold. After an unsuccessful loan spell in Italy, the 23-year-old will be back strutting his stuff at the Molineux. With Jimenez out of the team, the Italian will be looking to get his career back on track.

This is a big gamble for Wolves, as they would not have let Cutrone go out on loan if he was good enough in the first place. The games in this transfer window are essentially a trial for him.

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If Cutrone impresses in the next few games, the board will be satisfied that he is the man to fill the void for the rest of the season. The problem persists though if he fails to put in the level of performances that the club desperately need in a target man.

This will then see Wolves delve into the transfer market to sign a striker, which will most likely be near the end of the window. This is would be extremely risky, as clubs will know that Wolves are desperate to get a striker in, so will ramp up the price. 

Summary: This is Wolves' major area to decide on. Cutrone's performances will decide whether or not to invest in a top striker. This could easily be a loan move, as not many strikers will want to compete with a fully fit Jimenez next season.

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