After a successful pre-season tour of Alicante, Wolves' Premier League preparations have taken a significant blow. As reported by The Telegraph, Raul Jimenez could miss up to eight weeks of the new campaign after sustaining a knee injury in a pre-season friendly.
The Mexican striker was substituted just 35 minutes into the game with Besiktas on Saturday evening, leading many to speculate over the severity of the injury. VAVEL.com look at some of the issues Wolves will face in the coming weeks, as well as some options that the club may want to consider.
History repeats itself
After Jimenez's horrendous head injury in November 2020, Wolves found life without the Mexican to be a real challenge. At the time of the injury, Wolves sat just one point off the top four, before slumping to a miserable 13th place finish.
18-year-old Fabio Silva was thrown in at the deep end, leading a Premier League attack while only having one senior goal to his name. Nuno Espirito Santo would have been relieved when experienced striker Willian Jose was loaned in from Real Betis, but the move did not work out. Just one league goal in 17 appearances saw the Brazilian replaced by Silva before the end of the campaign.
Options at the club
Patrick Cutrone remains at the club after three years, but is highly unlikely to feature in any competitive action this season. The Italian joined Wolves for a reported £23 million in the summer of 2019, but his time in the West Midlands has been underwhelming. Scoring just three goals in old gold, paired with failed loan moves to Fiorentina, Valencia and Empoli, the 24-year-old may struggle to find game time in the Black Country.
Hee-Chan Hwang was often utilised on the left hand side of a front three for Wolves, although his time up top at both RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig could be key. Scoring five goals last season, Hwang will be hoping for greater success if he is to play in a more central position.
The returning Morgan Gibbs-White was deployed as a striker at Sheffield United, scoring 12 goals in a promising Championship campaign. The youngster has earned the trust of Lage, even captaining the side in their training match with Levante. Gibbs-White is yet to lead the line in the top flight, but with confidence at a high, he would not back down from the challenge.
Who is on the market?
Last week, The Sun reported that Wolves were interested in Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke. Although the Belgian striker has only netted 20 times in the past five Premier League seasons, Wolves may be willing to strike a cheap deal with only 12-months left on his Palace contract.
A more ambitious option than Benteke, Italian striker Andrea Belotti is also on the market as a free agent. Belotti was released by Torino after seven years with the Serie A side, scoring 113 goals, with two against Wolves. The Italian has plenty of admirers in world football, with Daily Mail claiming he has been offered to Newcastle United, West Ham United and Everton.
After West Ham's signing of Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo, Chelsea's Armando Broja could be back on the market. TalkSport suggest that Broja is searching for a permanent move away from Stamford Bridge, while Chelsea would be willing to loan out the Albanian striker. Wolves have utilised loan deals to good extent over the past five years, with a move for Broja a sensible option.
With just 10 days until Wolves travel to Elland Road, time is of the essence. As desperation may kick in at Molineux, the club must remain calm in order to bring in the right man. While it is important to maintain momentum from a promising pre-season, lessons must be learnt to ensure there is no repeat of the 2020/21 season.