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Wolves comment: Should Nuno look for a midfield enforcer?

By Joe Edwards | Wolves | Published:

Plenty of fans are calling for Wolves to sign a striker in the January transfer window – but is reinforcing another position just as important?

Ruben Neves has proved himself a genuine class act but he needs help in the centre of midfield (AMA)

The cries for a centre forward – perhaps a target man who excels in the air and can hold the ball up – to be brought in are justified.

After all, Wolves, for all the excellent play they have shown this season, have not been finding the net freely in the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s main source of goals has been Raul Jimenez.

But if the Mexican picks up an injury, Leo Bonatini – who has only chipped in once in 2018 – does not fill you with confidence over whether he could successfully step up to the plate.

Arguably just as pressing though is the need for a central midfielder with distinct attributes.

Portuguese pair Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho do not need replacing – let’s make that abundantly clear.

Both are exceptional, accomplished footballers who have the ability to turn a game on its head at any second with a killer pass.

But giving them a bit of help surely would not hurt.

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Joao Moutinho is cut from same cloth as Neves (AMA)

Morgan Gibbs-White has come off the bench as of late and impressed greatly.

He looks every bit a future Molineux star, and has a fair bit to offer at the moment – but, at the same time, Nuno will be keen not to pile too much pressure on his shoulders at this early stage of his career.

So, with Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker seemingly considered defensive options, there seems to be scope for bringing in a midfield enforcer.

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Someone who may not be quite as easy on the eye but, given the right game, can prove just as effective with their strength and athleticism.

Alfred N’Diaye made 33 appearances as Wolves stormed the Championship last season.

He was not the best player to grace old gold, of course, but far from the worst.

Having him as an option to come off the bench and shore things up while in the lead proved pretty useful for Nuno (20 of N’Diaye’s 33 games coming as a substitute).

N’Diaye was not snapped up permanently ahead of life in the top flight.

And while that was not the biggest of surprises, Wolves not bringing in someone of a similar ilk, with a bit more class about them, has left a bit of a hole in the squad.

Midfield enforcers have been used pretty effectively against Wolves this term too.

Physical duo Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure bossed it in the middle of the park as Watford won 2-0 at Molineux in October.

They completely overpowered Neves and Moutinho.

It was a similar story – although to a lesser extent – against Spurs at the start of November too.

Moussa Sissoko – a player who appears to get an unfairly bad rap – proved an imposing presence, helping to nullify the threat of Wolves’ midfielders until Gibbs-White shone in the last half an hour.

Youngster Morgan Gibbs-White has impressed (AMA)

Huddersfield used a rangy midfielder to their advantage against Nuno’s charges as well.

Philip Billing, who stands at 6ft 4in, was doing the dirty work with Jonathan Hogg, which gave Aaron Mooy the licence to break forward and eventually be the match-winner.

Cheikhou Kouyate is another enforcer who has stood the test of time in the Premier – now at Crystal Palace after four years at West Ham.

Ultimately, there is evidence which suggests that having such a player in the Wolves squad would be helpful.

And while it may not be top of Nuno’s shopping list, it could well be something that he is considering.

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @JoeEdwards_Star

Sports reporter for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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