This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
According to Portuguese tabloid Correio da Manha, Wolves are just one of the clubs chasing Lille ace Rafael Leao this summer as manager Nuno Espirito Santo looks to strengthen his side ahead of their upcoming European journey.
What’s the word?
Wolves are yet to make any substantial moves in the transfer market having only made two loan deals permanent – with the £30m club-record signing of Raul Jimenez and Leander Dedoncker staying at Molineux.
The West Midlands club were also finalists in the first-ever UEFA Cup tournament back in 1972 as they were defeated by Tottenham Hotspur over two legs.
As they embark on another historic season, additions are required even if it is purely for squad depth reasons. The reported link to Leao would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Less reliance on Wolves’ only striker
At times last season, Wolves were reliant on Jimenez with him being their only senior out-and-out striking option. Their number nine bagged 13 goals and seven assists in 38 Premier League appearances. Versatile forward Diogo Jota often partnered him up top in a 3-5-2 formation even though he has been a left-sided winger most of his career – he added nine goals and five assists himself meaning the duo formed a formidable partnership up top.
But what would Santo do if either of them were unlucky enough to pick up an injury? or a suspension? They will face even more of a hectic schedule now they are in a European competition – their Europa League campaign actually begins this week, less than three weeks before the start of the Premier League season.
Wolves can do no wrong in adding another highly-rated striker with Leao a potential option. He was once dubbed the ‘Portuguese Mbappe‘ and has also been regarded as the best youth prospect to leave the Sporting CP academy in their history by his former mentor Tiago Fernandes – which is impressive considering Cristiano Ronaldo came from those very ranks.
The 20-year-old starred for Lille last season, though you wouldn’t have realised as Nicolas Pepe took most of the spotlight. Leao scored eight goals in just 16 starts, whilst laying on a trio of assists too. The young star would be able to give Santo a new dimension up top as well as lessening the burden on Jimenez’s shoulders – Leao would bring lightening pace and impervious strength notwithstanding of his technical ability having come through such a prestigious academy setup early in his career. Four of his eight goals has seen him leave defenders for dead with his rapid acceleration. His 6 foot 2, 178 pound frame emphasises the physical aspect of his game.
Leao would fit right in at the West Midlands club seeing as you could easily be forgiven for thinking it’s a Primeira Liga side at times with the array of Portuguese talent at their disposal. The Portugal Under-21 international would become the eighth player from Spain’s neighbour to pull on the gold and black shirt making the transition to English football all that smoother. He’s also just been signed up as one of agent Jorge Mendes’ new clients which can only be good news for fans at Molineux as he also manages their boss Santo as well as the club’s owners having a share in his agency firm. The 53-year-old has reportedly influenced a number of signings at the club in the past.