The Athletic’s Wolves reporter Tim Spiers believes that Daniel Podence could well be a victim of a potential formation change at the club, per The Molineux View podcast (February 25, 30:00).
Podence arrived for a £16.6m fee in the January transfer window from Olympiacos.
However, he has played just three times for the club, coming on as a substitute against Manchester United and Leicester City in the Premier League and Espanyol in the Europa League.
Spiers, though, believes that, while he could be the back-up for right winger Adama Traore, a switch to a 3-5-2 formation could see him frozen out akin to the way that Patrick Cutrone struggled to get into the starting XI.
Wolves played a 3-5-2 system against Norwich City at the weekend, having gone three league games without a win while utilising 3-4-3, per Transfermarkt.
He said: “He’s spent £17m on him and he was the number one target in January and (they were) delighted to sign him and (he’s had) a couple of bright and breezy substitute appearances. Yeah, he needs to be starting and playing regularly and he was playing on the right for Olympiacos.
“So I see him as kind of backup for Traore but I mean, if they start playing 3-5-2 now, Podence will be thinking ‘are you kidding?’ It’s like when they signed Cutrone thinking they were going to be playing 4-4-2.
“Then they switched to 3-4-3…”
Cutrone made just three league starts for Wolves before a loan move to Fiorentina in January.
And Spiers added: “So he was frozen out by that formation change, and you hope Podence isn’t going to be the victim of that as well.
“So now they rate him very highly and we just need to see more from him and the guys going to need game time. So Thursday’s an ideal opportunity. I’d be surprised if he didn’t start.”
Wolves can rotate their squad a little bit this week, with them holding a 4-0 first leg advantage over Espanyol.
Bringing Podence in from the start, then, makes complete sense, and is a chance to see exactly what he can do.
He had scored three league goals and registered four assists for Olympiacos before his move to Wolves and the challenge is simple: He simply needs to prove his worth.
If he can show to manager Nuno Espirito Santo that he is a player who can have an immediate impact, he has a chance.
Otherwise, he could very well go the same way as Cutrone.