The top 30 Wolves players of the Nuno era – 10 to 1
We have been treated to many magnificent displays from first-class players at Wolves under Nuno Espirito Santo – and now let's crown the very best.
The list of the greatest 30 players of the Nuno era comes to a conclusion as Joe Edwards goes through a star-studded top-10 and makes his No.1 pick.
Number 10 – Rui Patricio
In getting to the Premier League, Wolves brought in Patricio and while it was a bit harsh on John Ruddy, you cannot deny the arrival of the Portuguese represented an upgrade between the sticks.
Not many can pull off the saves he can. Patricio’s reflexes are other- worldly and, over time, his kicking and commanding of his area have also reached a high level.
A very, very safe pair of hands.
Number 9 – Romain Saiss
If you are talking about this season alone, Saiss is probably in the top three.
After all, he has made a transition from midfield to defence look an absolute cakewalk. It is as if he has been a left-sided centre-half for all of his life.
The Moroccan was handy in midfield, let’s not forget.
But at the back, he has taken things to a whole new level. Saiss relishes aerial duels, tracks runners tightly and still loves a tackle, of course.
He has managed to rein in the yellow cards, too. That spot in the back three should be his for quite a while.
Number 8 – Adama Traore
This man has torn top-flight defences apart over the course of this campaign.
Last term, though, did not go his way. Traore was a lively option off the bench, but the end product simply was not there. Thankfully, he has turned things around in a dramatic fashion.
The frightening forward is supremely quick and strong, and precise in the final third these days.
Six goals and 10 assists have come while a whopping 28 players have been booked for fouling Traore this term. Like Saiss, if this list was based just on this season, he would be right up there.
Number 7 – Conor Coady
Every top team needs a great leader and with Coady, Wolves have been spoilt.
He may hail from Liverpool, but he eats, breathes and sleeps Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 27-year-old is a superb sweeper as well. Constantly organising and encouraging those around him, he brings the ball out from the back with a level of calmness very few have.
Coady has played every minute of Wolves’ last 102 league matches – just let that feat sink in for a second.
Nuno saw something in him, turning him into a defender, and Coady has repaid that faith in spades.
Number 6 – Matt Doherty
The longest-serving player currently on Wolves’ books, Doherty – some achievement in this day and age, by the way – has been at Molineux since 2010.
And with the help of Nuno, the Irishman has played the best football of his career. Doherty got eight goals last season and is on seven this campaign – you will be hard-pressed to find any other defender who is so prolific.
And on the back foot, he is always solid. An amazing player who ticks all the wing-back boxes.
Number 5 – Willy Boly
If you were asked to build a defender from scratch, the end result would be something very similar to Boly.
He has size, strength, speed, aerial ability and an assuredness with the ball at his feet.
Such an imposing physical presence, he is probably the quietest member of Nuno’s squad.
Rarely do you hear him shouting and bawling on the pitch, while he has only spoken to the media a handful of times off it.
Instead, Boly’s actions do the talking – bringing opposition attacks to a grinding halt, looking up and making the pass.
He is Wolves’ brick wall at the back, a centre-half with no obvious weakness.
Number 4 – Diogo Jota
Getting down to the real nitty-gritty now, Jota has been responsible for so many highlights.
His hat-trick in the 4-3 triumph over Leicester last season was utterly remarkable.
His goal in the FA Cup quarter-final triumph against Manchester United, also last term, created perhaps the loudest celebration heard at Molineux in decades, too.
Sure, Jota may be a bit of a confidence player. But even in his slumps, the tenacity remains – and he eventually gets back to his best.
The way he slaloms through teams is a sight to behold. A defender’s nightmare.
Number 3 – Joao Moutinho
So, £5million is not a small amount of money by means – but that fee for Moutinho was an absolute steal.
Wolves have reached quite the heights with his masterclasses in the middle of the park.
Everything he does is with great care, whether it is a simple five-yard pass or a defence-splitting through-ball.
Watch him closely and you will be hard-pressed to find many instances of him losing possession.
But on the few occasions he does, he will more than likely win it back through his relentless pressing.
At 33, Moutinho is showing no signs of slowing down. A born winner whose presence has lifted Wolves tenfold.
Number 2 – Raul Jimenez
If you are an aspiring striker, watch Jimenez, because there are not many centre forwards who are so well-rounded in the world, let alone the Premier League.
The Mexican has scored goal after goal over the past two seasons, and the club-record £32million spent on him can go down as an extraordinary piece of business.
The most crucial thing as an attacker is putting the ball in the net and Jimenez’s composure in front of goal has been unmatched.
Look at the win against Tottenham just before football was suspended. Jimenez was quiet for most of the game but, when it mattered, put Japhet Tanganga on his backside and curled the ball home to clinch all three points.
His star presence has been of immeasurable use to Wolves, but top spot on this list can only go to one man.
Number 1 – Ruben Neves
The wonderkid from Porto. The man who fans sing about being Nuno Santo’s man and better than Zinedine Zidane.
Neves has been the poster boy of Nuno’s reign thus far, and rightly so.
Without him pulling the strings in midfield, the journey would not have been anywhere near as special.
Neves is such a stylish player and the way he strikes the ball from distance is truly unique.
That volley against Derby could well be the greatest Wolves goal of all-time.
And although not quite as special, he came up with something very similar against Espanyol a couple of months ago.
Playing as a deep-lying midfielder at the start of this season did not work quite as it should have and, for a bit, a few of us maybe took Neves for granted.
But this break in the game we all love reminds you how incredible he has been for Wolves. The best of the Nuno era.