Whichever way you look at it, Nuno’s Premier League squad is currently too thin.
And I’m not saying that in the shivering, panicked manner of someone fretting about Ronaldo going elsewhere, but simply crunching the numbers.
Some stuff to keep in mind:
- Wolves have to name a Premier League squad of up to 25 players for the first half of the season.
- 17 of the 25 can be foreign imports. The remainder have to be homegrown (registered to play in England or Wales for 36 months prior to their 21st birthday).
- Under 21 players don’t count towards any total, so don’t need to be considered.
This is how the current roster of players we have would be categorised as I understand it and the key takeaways.
- Rui Patricio
- Barry Douglas
- Willy Boly
- Roderick Miranda
- Ruben Neves
- Romain Saiss
- Ivan Cavaleiro
- Diogo Jota
- Helder Costa
- Leo Bonatini
- Raul Jiminez
- Rafa Mir
The takeaway: Still plenty of room to add further foreign imports, which is just as well given our recruitment policy. Miranda is already reported to be leaving, so spaces to fill in the section you’d expect Wolves to conduct most of their business.
- John Ruddy
- Will Norris
- Matt Doherty (I think)
- Conor Coady
- Ryan Bennett
- Kortney Hause
- Danny Batth
The takeaway: You don’t actually have to have 8 homegrown players, but as you can only have 17 foreign players, the remainder of the senior pros in the squad must be homegrown, so it could make sense to keep homegrown talent as cover even if they’re not part of any immediate plans.
- Bright Enobakhare
- Morgan Gibbs-White
- Ruben Vinagre
- Connor Ronan
- +various others from u21 setup unlikely to be involved
The takeaway: Nothing to see here. Some of the above might be used, but whether they are or not it doesn’t make a difference to the quota. Even if you add the best of these players to the squad, you still don’t hit 25 bodies, which underlines the paucity of first team contenders.
- Phil Ofosu-Ayeh
- Dominic Iorfa
- Paul Gladon
- Jordan Graham
- Michal Zyro
- Ethan Ebanks-Landell
The takeaway: Never a good sign when you’re left out of the pre-season tour and you’d expect all of the above to be moved out either on loan or permanently before too long.
Priorities & expectations
Both Kevin Thelwell and Laurie Dalrymple have made reference to the squad size Nuno prefers to work with, which is on the smaller side reading between the lines, so there won’t necessarily be 25 senior pros on the books competing for a first team selection come August. But it’s clear there are gaps that need to be addressed.
Central midfield and wing-back positions are the two areas screaming out for reinforcements, so the rumoured pursuit of Oleksandr Zinchenko makes a lot of sense, given that he can play in both areas of the pitch. This positional flexibility is important to Nuno and means he can keep a smaller group with players able to cover as and when required.
For similar reasons I’m surprised Alfred N’Diaye hasn’t been retained given the shortage of holding midfielders and his own ability to slot into the back three or even a more attacking role on occasion. N’Diaye being seemingly overlooked suggests to me at least one, but more likely two bodies will be added to this area of the pitch.
Contrary to the Express and Star story quoting Dalrymple suggesting Wolves wouldn’t conduct much more business, I believe there’s still significant activity to come – inbound and outbound.
I think at least 6 players from the above roster will leave either on loan or permanently (mostly from the bomb squad) with at least 3 or 4 first team contenders to be added. Regardless of Nuno’s preferences for a smaller group, without those additions the squad is far too vulnerable in the event of injuries or loss of form and I simply can’t believe Fosun would take such a risk having invested so heavily to reach the promised land.