Pedro Neto: The Rise of Wolves' newest star
Pedro Neto of Wolverhampton Wanderers looks on during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United at Molineux on February 19, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Pedro Lomba Neto, born in the town of Viano Do Castelo in Portugal in the year 2000, has become one of the most influential players for Premier League team, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Helping his team turn their poor start to the season on its head and facing it in the right direction. 

How did the Portuguese winger get to where he is today and just how influential has the 20-year-old been for Wolves?

  • Life Before Wolves

Neto was introduced to football early, joining his local clubs' youth team, SC Vianense at the age of 8, where he would stay and develop for two years. After those two years, he would find himself in the midst of another local team in the form of Perspectiva em Jogo where he would play for an extra three years, seeking to improve. 

Neto would get his chance to play in the big leagues when he joined Sporting de Braga at the age of 13. Braga would be the club that he spent the most time with, having stints in the reserve team and the youth teams. 

After spending four years in the youth and reserve teams, Neto finally got his long-awaited chance in the first team in 2017 at 17 years old, coming on as a substitute against already relegated C.D. Nacional and making an instant impact, scoring after just a few minutes on the pitch. 

However, the sensational start to his career at Braga would not save him from being loaned out for two years, the suiters being Italian club S.S. Lazio. 

At Lazio, Neto did not reach the heights he hoped, only appearing four times and not getting a single goal contribution in the outings that came into place for the youngster. 

A month after making the loan deal permanent in 2019, Lazio cashed in on the youngster, receiving £18m from Wolves to claim the signature of the young Portuguese forward. This is where the eccentric youngster would truly find his feet. 

  • Making an impact in England

After sealing the £18m move to the West Midlands, Neto would waste no time in outlining his intention in England, stating that he will become "the best player in the world."

Neto had to wait as little as 12 days to make his debut in gold and black. This would come in the UEFA Europa League in a third-round qualifying encounter against FC Pyunik, scoring and providing an assist for Morgan Gibbs-White in a 4-0 home win, making himself instantly known to Wolves fans. 

The Premier League awaited the youngster next as he made his first appearance in the competition just days later, as he replaced teammate, Diogo Jota in the 86th minute in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United

Neto would start to show glimpses of class during his first season in the Wolves side with a willingness to take players on and use his explosive pace to be able to ease past his opposition and create chances for his team. 

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The young prospect began to gain traction in his first season with the club, racking up 44 appearances and providing 10 overall goal contributions in his first season showing that, given the chance, he can perform at the highest levels. 

The eccentric style of play that Neto brings to the team was exciting for Wolves fans, on one flank they had the pace and ability on the ball in the form of Adama Traore and were developing a player that was very similar on the opposite wing, promising an entertaining and direct style of football, with target man, Raul Jimenez, in the forefront of the attack. 

  • Reaching New Heights

In a turbulent season for Wolves, there is no doubt that the 20-year-old has been the outstanding performer for the West Midlands club, with his direct style of play and his ability on the ball that rivals the top players in the league, he has been the glimmer of hope that the club needs. 

The winger has amassed stats that rival the outstanding young players in the league, gathering the same amount of goal contributions as Manchester City's, Phil Foden (9) and pulling ahead of Arsenal's top prospect Bukayo Saka

The change in Wolves' season came in a 2-1 win at home to Arsenal, in which Pedro Neto was the outstanding performer, pulling all the attacking strings and gaining an assist in the process.

The young prospect is a spectacle to watch, almost as if he is playing with a magnet in his boots which never lets the ball leave his custody. A brilliant solo goal against Southampton was the pinnacle of close control and focus, dribbling beautifully past Jannik Vestergaard and slotting it beautifully in the Saints net from a tight angle. 

Fans have the luxury of watching the Portuguese magician every week for Wolves and each time, the question of what he's going to pull off every time he steps on the pitch is on the tip of the fan's tongues. 

A new five-year contract with Neto was agreed in November tying him down to Wolves for the foreseeable future, after already surpassing expectations this season, in the absence of target man, Jimenez. 

A team player, gaining assists (3) as well as goals shows that he is able to provide for his team-mates and when the Mexican striker returns, these numbers will only improve, with the confidence of crossing coming back to the once reliably aerially threatening side. 

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  • Staying Grounded

Even during his current rise of a reputation amongst viewers of the league,  Neto must stay grounded, and it seems he knows that. 

Neto stays close to his roots, being taken to and from training every day by his parents, and mentions them every time that he gets a chance. 

The most notable occurrence being when he revealed that his mother told him to shoot more, with Neto arguing that she doesn't understand the reasons he chooses to be unselfish in front of goal. 

These are promising signs for the Wolves prospect as many up-and-coming players in the past have had troubles with their attitude and mindset which faltered their development. 

If Neto can keep his attitude toward training, which Nuno Espirito Santo describes as "total dedication", and his humbling mindset, there is nothing stopping the eccentric young winger from reaching the heights he has set out. 

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