The idea of Wolverhampton Wanderers spending €40 million on anyone, let alone a right back, would have seemed crazy not so long ago, but there is a new reality at Molineux.
Sky Sports are reporting that Wolves are in talks with Valencia about signing Joao Cancelo.
Under the ownership of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, no ceiling has been put on Wolves’ ambition.
Signing Cancelo from Valencia would smash their current record transfer fee paid, the £15.8 million acquisition of Cancelo’s compatriot Ruben Neves last summer.
They did however bid £38 million for another player represented by super agent Jorge Mendes in January, and the indications appear to be that the splurge on Cancelo would only be the beginning of Wolves’ summer spending.
The value of good wing backs
Last summer, Manchester City’s decision to spend over £50 million on Kyle Walker was met with derision in some quarters. In reality, though, City had just signed the best fullback in the league.
As absurd as it seems, there is a new normal in the transfer market. Chairmen know that modern coaches value dynamic fullbacks so highly, to provide teams proper width and a different outlet on the flanks.
Joao Cancelo, who spent last season on loan at Inter Milan, is a lovely player to watch when in full flow. He is extremely dangerous going forward and loves to beat his man with a bit of trickery. The Portuguese also has ample pace to get in behind defences, with a decent final ball to boot.
The move would seem a little harsh on current right wing back Matt Doherty, who scored four goals and created five on the way to Wolves romping to the Championship title. This included a crucial winner at Portman Road against Ipswich that steadied things after a surprise 2-0 loss against Nottingham Forest.
You would imagine that Nuno will want similar productivity from his right wing back to that of Barry Douglas on the left. Douglas scored five times, but it is his remarkable tally of 14 assists that was so eye-catching.
Plucked from Konyaspor as a relative unknown for around £1 million, the Scottish left wing back was an inspired signing. With performances that Cancelo would hope to emulate, despite the difference in their reputations arriving in England.
Will Cancelo be a hit?
So we’ve established that Wolves will be looking for productivity, but is Cancelo the man to provide it?
In top-flight football, he’s never registered more than four assists in a season – fewer than the dependable Doherty got in the Championship last season.
What does count in Cancelo’s favour is that Wolves deploy a 3-4-3 formation, which would give him more freedom and licence to get forward. One thing Doherty lacks is pace. The injection of speed that Cancelo would offer could give Wolves a whole new dimension, as Douglas isn’t the quickest either.
The three at the back formation would also cover Cancelo’s main weakness, his defending. He has been known to be rash and clumsy in the tackle, but with an extra defender to cover him, he could be formidable.
There will be times next season when Wolves will need to soak up pressure and be devastating on the counterattack, so adding extra pace to the group will be so beneficial for Nuno.
Don’t expect this to be the last big move Wolves make this summer either. With Jorge Mendes central to the operation, Wolves are being loosely linked with just about every Portuguese player under the sun. If they can bring in more in the class of Neves, Diogo Jota and Cancelo, they will be very useful additions to the Premier League.
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