Wolves have taken the Championship by storm this season and the runaway leaders will deservedly line up in the Premier League next season.
In his debut season with the club manager Nuno Espirito Santo has brought exciting football back to Molineux. His team are the top scorers in the division with 76 goals. Equally impressive is the fact that Wolves have the second meanest defence. Their tally of 36 goals conceded in 42 league games is only bettered by Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.
While many have focused on big-money signings like former Porto star Ruben Neves, Wolves have utilised loan deals to extraordinary success this season. In fact, Wolves’ top two scorers in the Championship this season are both loanees, Diogo Jota (15 goals) and Leo Bonatini (12 goals). Jota, 21, joined on loan from Athletico Madrid at the start of the season. By January, Jota had scored 11 league goals and helped Wolves to build a 12-point lead at the top of the league.
It was at this point, with the additional income of Premier League television rights seeming a real possibility, that the club swooped in to sign Jota on a permanent basis. Sporting Director Kevin Thelwell described the permanent signing as “huge coup” for the club.
Wolves’ other 2017/18 loanee signings:
– Willy Boly, 27-year-old centre back on loan from Porto
– Ruben Vinagre, 18-year-old left back on loan from Monaco
– Alfred N’Diaye, 28-year-old defensive midfielder on loan from Villarreal
– Benik Afobe, 25-year-old striker on loan from Bournemouth
– Leo Bonatini, 24-year-old striker on loan from Al-Hilal
After the Jota deal was completed, executive chairman Jeff Shi spoke about the other rest of the on-loan talent at the club.
“Of course, in addition to Diogo, we have a number of other players who are also part of the playing squad under loan agreements, and we will continue to make assessments of the whole playing group as we progress through the season.
“By moving to confirm terms with Diogo, and the signing of Helder Costa last winter, it shows that we can provide a great environment for loan players to thrive and develop in Wolves.”
Wolves used loan signings to build a title-winning team without over-extending their finances. The loanees gave the club a blend of experience and talent that has been crucial to the team’s success.
According to Transfermarkt.co.uk, the collective value of the players Wolves brought in on loan this season is £33.5 million.
The genius behind these deals is the limited risk. The club pays a nominal fee and cover the player’s wages. Worst case scenario, the players flop and return to their parent club. Best case scenario – look no further than the case of Jota.
The Portuguese ace has been instrumental in driving Wolves towards promotion, the financial rewards of which will more than cover the fee that brings him to the club on a permanent basis.
Collectively the loanees have made 127 Championship starts for the club this season and between them contributed 38 goals. To put that in context, the loanees have outscored the entire squads of Birmingham City (32) and Bolton Wanderers (34) in the second tier.
– Willy Boly, 33 starts, 3 goals
– Ruben Vinagre, 8 starts, 1 goal
– Alfred N’Diaye, 13 starts, 3 goals
– Diogo Jota, 39 starts, 15 goals
– Benik Afobe, 5 starts, 4 goals
– Leo Bonatini, 29 starts, 12 goals
With the end of the season fast approaching it will be interesting to see if Wolves look to tie down any more of their loan stars.
Despite Bonatini enduring an 18-game goal drought recently, his haul of 12 goals and five assists has left Wolves fans desperate for the club to take up the option to sign the 23-year-old Brazilian for €5m before June 30.