Shropshire Star

Wolves’ striking problem makes for grim reading

Wolves’ goalscoring woes have been a major concern this season.


With a relegation battle on their hands, the team has scored just 22 goals in 28 Premier League games this campaign, and have seen just one league goal scored by a number nine in just over a year.

But those struggles stretch far beyond this season and proves Wolves have a major problem to solve this summer.

When Wolves returned to the Premier League for the 2018/19 season, they struck gold with Raul Jimenez. The Mexican scored 17 goals in 44 games in all competitions that season, before notching 27 goals in 55 games the following season.

He managed four goals in 11 games up to November 2020, when he suffered his horrific fractured skull injury, and his numbers have yet to reach to same heights as his first two seasons.

From 2018 until this very moment, Wolves have seen eight ‘number nines’ pull on the old gold strip – with Jimenez, Leo Bonatini, Patrick Cutrone, Willian Jose, Fabio Silva, Sasa Kalajdzic, Diego Costa and Matheus Cunha the names in the frame.

From the last four seasons, and this season to date, those eight strikers have played a combined 310 games – including all starts and substitute appearances across all competitions. Remarkably, in those 310 games they have scored just 67 goals. That is around one goal every 4.6 games.

From one remarkable statistic to another, of those 67 goals, Jimenez has scored 57 of them. Then, of those 57 from Jimenez, 44 of them came in his first two seasons at Wolves. That means, from the 2020/21 season onwards, those eight Wolves strikers have scored just 23 goals in 211 combined games. Just over one every nine games.

To be transparent and fair to Kalajdzic, he only lasted 45 minutes for Wolves before suffering a serious knee injury, but Wolves’ problems up front still remain.

The club’s first mistake was not adequately adding to the striker department to give Jimenez competition, meaning that they massively struggled when he was out injured.

Wolves have not been guilty of failing to invest, but they have failed to invest wisely. Bonatini swiftly departed after promotion, Jose and Cutrone were disasters, Costa was a last-minute move that has not worked and Cunha has failed to hit the ground running in front of goal – while arguably not being a natural number nine.

Ironically, Fabio Silva could be the answer in the summer. The forward they paid £35million for as an 18-year-old has enjoyed a prolific season on loan at Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven, scoring 15 goals in 43 games. He managed four in his first Wolves season and none last year, but this season has proved he is making strides with his development. However, the player himself has made it clear he wants to stay at PSV next season.

“If it’s up to me, I’ll definitely stay here for another season because I think it’s good for my development,” he said.

“The last goal we scored (in a 5-2 win) against Cambuur, with Xavi (Simons), Anwar (El Ghazi) and me, showed how much fun we have together. I would like to continue that. But like I said, it’s not always up to me. Moreover, my focus must first be fully on the title race and the cup tournament. I want to win trophies here and I believe we can still become champions.”

Wolves and Julen Lopetegui want to look at Silva in the summer, and they must exhaust all options to find a solution to this striker conundrum.