Success or Failure – A review of Bruno Lage’s first transfer window as Wolves boss

As the transfer window ends many Wolves fans are disgruntled with the club with the lack of additions in key areas that were thought to be needed for the club to progress, however let’s assess the window as a whole and see whether it has been a success or a failure for Wolves

In (£21.3m)

Rayan Ait Nouri – £10m

The young full back was signed from Angers after showing plenty of signs of promise during his loan spell at Molineux last season. At just 20 years old Nouri still has lots of time to improve, however his strong showing and the fact that regular Left Back Jonny is out for a long while to come, a £10 million deal for the Frenchman seems like a no brainer and will turn out to be good business by the club in years to come.

Jose Sa – £6.8m

Sa was brought in to replace the large void vacated by the outgoing Rui Patricio who left Molineux to join Roma. Despite being partially at fault for Mason Greenwood’s winning goal in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, Sa has looked solid throughout the three games. His distribution has looked especially positive, and is definitely an area where he has the upper hand compared to his predecessor. Therefore judging him on performances so far Sa looks a good replacement and is someone we can rely on throughout this campaign.

Yerson Mosquera – £4.5m

I doubt many Wolves fans, me included, had ever heard of young Yerson Mosquera before he joined from Atletico Nacional early in the transfer window but from what we’ve seen so far it looks to be a very shrewd signing by the club. Despite the injury that is preventing any competitive involvement at the moment, during the friendlies Mosquera was extremely impressive and was a large presence in the backline when he featured. While full judgement may have to be reserved until we see him in Premier League action, the early signs are very bright for Mosquera.

Fransisco Trincao – Loan

Pedro Neto’s injury has hit the team significantly following his exceptional performances during last season, and while maybe not a straight swap the signing of Francisco Trincao from Barcelona may go a long way towards filling the void vacated by Neto. The tricky winger showed glimmers of what he can do against Manchester United on Sunday and his confidence will have been boosted as he grabbed a lovely goal away at Nottingham Forest last week in the cup. Once again, the early signs are good for Trincao and he will hopefully play a part as we still look to get off the mark in terms of goalscoring in the league after the international break.

Hwang Hee-Chan – Loan

With no signings on deadline day Korean striker Hwang Hee-Chan ended up being Wolves’ final signing after he was unveiled to the fans on Sunday before kick off at Molineux. Understandably Raul Jimenez’s performances so far haven’t been upto his previous standards following his horrific injury, so Chan’s goals could be crucial in order for this season to be a successful one. The forward has had two excellent spells in Austrian football at RB Salzburg, scoring 45 goals over 4 seasons, before moving to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. Chan has struggled somewhat during his time in Germany, however if he can reproduce some of his form from years gone by he could be a great signing.

Out – £27.5m

Rafa Mir – £13.7m

Despite only making five appearances for Wolves and never scoring for the club Rafa Mir has rebuilt his career in Spain earning himself a move to Sevilla. His success in Spain came playing for SD Huesca in La Liga where he netted 25 times in 57 appearances over a strong 18 month period. In the end however it made a lot of sense for Wolves to cash in as he would’ve gone for free in January, so overall a good move for the player and both clubs involved.

Rui Patricio – £10.25m

Patricio was always a safe pair of hands and a very reliable shot stopper during our first three seasons back in the premier league, so his move to Roma will be a loss unless Jose Sa can live up to Patricio’s high standards. 

Owen Otasowie – £3.5m

The sale of promising youngster Owen Otasowie to Club Brugge appears strange from outside of the club, as whenever he played he certainly impressed from the fans point of view and so letting him go for just £3.5 million when he is still young seems bizarre. Hopefully we don’t live to regret this sale like we have done in the past with youngsters such as Pedro Goncalves.

Morgan Gibbs-White – Loan

After a promising start to life under Bruno Lage with a goal in the carabao cup against Nottingham Forest it was a slight surprise when MGW was allowed to be loaned out on deadline day to Sheffield United especially with no one coming in to replace him. Hopefully the youngster flourishes in the championship and comes back having improved his game further, but personally I think he could’ve played a useful role off the bench for Wolves this season

Patrick Cutrone – Loan

The Italian striker who has consistently failed to impress at Molineux has been sent on his third different loan spell in just eighteen months, this time moving to Serie A new boys Empoli. In all honesty it looks like Cutrone’s unsuccessful time in England is up, a great shame after the excitement surrounding his signing just two seasons ago.

Ruben Vinagre – Loan

Following a loan spell at Famalicao last season Vinagre is back in Portugal for this campaign out on loan at Sporting CP. The wing back has already made three league appearances this season so can hopefully find form and have a successful development year in the Portuguese league.

What was needed?

For the majority of Wolves fans there are two obvious areas that needed strengthening significantly that haven’t been, central midfield and central defence. 

In terms of midfield the only recognised senior midfielders are Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leandor Dendoncker. Keeping hold of Neves was crucial this summer with interest from Manchester United floating around consistently. He is arguably the most important man in the entire team and without him we really would be struggling. 

Moutinho is a classy player and everyone knows the talent that he can give us but at the age of 34, will he be able to complete a full season again in our midfield. This is one of the main reasons why I feel Wolves needed to strengthen in this position as depth looks to be a major issue, a few injuries and our options become very slim.

Links with Renato Sanches and Boubacar Soumare brought great hope on deadline day however both deals fell through leaving Wolves desperately lacking depth and leaving fans frustrated that the club left it so late in the window to look for options.

The centre of defence is an area that the side have needed to strengthen for a long time, however other than Mosquera these needs don’t seem to have been met. Willy Boly, Max Kilman, Romain Saiss and Conor Coady are all solid centre half options however it feels as if the position could’ve easily been strengthened had money been spent. Sven Botman at Lille was heavily linked but unfortunately nothing went through leaving Lage with almost no choice but to stick with a system contained a back three similar to the one we saw previously under Nuno.

Judgment

Despite the promising signings of Trincao, Hwang and Mosquera as well as a solid keeper in Jose Sa, you can’t help but feel that more needed to be spent in order for Wolves to progress under Bruno Lage. Just a few weeks ago Lage made comments claiming that he needed 3-4 extra quality signings in order to strengthen the team, however this did not prevail for whatever reason.

So overall it has been a very underwhelming transfer window for Wolves fans, hopefully it can still be a successful season and that the team can turn positive performances into positive results very quickly.

Words – Tom Bird