Wolves’ rise from the Championship to the upper echelons of the Premier League in recent years has had a significant Portuguese influence.
Manager Nuno Espirito Santo, Ruben Neves and the now departed Diogo Jota – all Portuguese nationals – played key roles in the club’s promotion season from England’s second-tier in 2017/18.
Since arriving back in the Premier League, the additions of fellow Portuguese stars Joao Moutinho and Pedro Neto have helped elevate the club’s status to one capable of making the top four.
While they may have lost 2-1 to Manchester City on Monday night, Wolves’ performance was more than enough proof that they’ll be a serious threat once again in 2020/21.
Especially after the signing of Nelson Semedo. The former Barcelona right-back’s arrival was officially announced by the club today, meaning Espirito Santo has finally found his Matt Doherty replacement.
In truth, Wolves’ newest Portuguese recruit is a significant upgrade on Doherty and he will completely change the dynamic of Espirito Santo’s starting XI.
Adama Traore will be freed from the shackles placed on him playing as a right-wing back, with Semedo slotting in behind the Spanish speedster.
Below, we’ve created what we believe is Wolves’ best XI for the rest of the 2020/21 season and there’s no denying the facts – this side can qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Wolves’ 2020/21 XI
XI: Rui Patricio, Willy Boly, Conor Coady, Romain Saiss, Nelson Semedo, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Fernando Marcal, Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, Pedro Neto.
A right-hand side of Semedo and Traore offers outrageous pace, creativity and – above all – balance.
Daniel Podence is the unlucky party to miss out in attack, but there’s just no way you can bench the unpredictable enigma that is Traore.
We’ve also omitted usual left-wing back Jonny Otto in favour of summer recruit Marcal, given that the former is likely to miss much of the season through injury.
The rest of the team is littered with quality. You won’t find many better back-threes than Coady, Boly and Saiss, while Patricio is a genuinely world-class goalkeeper.
Moutinho and Neves is a midfield pairing befitting of an elite Premier League team, with both regulars in the Portuguese national team.
Then you have Jimenez up top, yet another player who falls dangerously close to – if not into – the world-class bracket.
In his 78 Premier League appearances, the Mexican striker has scored 32 goals and contributed with 13 assists, scoring in Wolves’ first two Premier League games this season.
Neto and Traore either side of the 29-year-old with Podence, Fabio Silva and Vitinha as competition for the three forward roles? Not bad Wolves, not bad at all.
We haven’t even mentioned the versatile and usually brilliant Leander Dendoncker. While he doesn’t make our starting XI, the Belgian is a quality option in both midfield and at centre-back.
New signing Ki-Jana Hoever will also provide stellar competition for Semedo in the right-wing back role.
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