Player Zone: Morgan Gibbs-White can be the man to phase out Joao Moutinho

December 5th 2018 was a landmark moment in the career of Morgan Gibbs-White as the promising teenager made his first Premier League start.

The opposition? Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea. The result? A 2-1 win for Wolves. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t the first time Nuno Santo’s team had taken points from a top-six club in 2018/19.

In that clash, Gibbs-White was phenomenal, claiming an assist playing in the advanced role he’d flourished in for England U17’s during their World Cup triumph 14 months prior.

But, that game against the Blues is about as good as it got for the young talent this season. A victim of Wolves’ settled side, he’s had to make do with regular substitute cameos, appearing just five times from the start in the league.

And when he has played, it’s usually been deeper in Wolves’ midfield.

However, there is hope beyond his limited game time this term. Gibbs-White has an extremely bright future and, if the club qualify for the Europa League, he is someone who can benefit greatly from the extra matches.

Wolves haven’t needed much rotation in midfield this season. Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker and Joao Moutinho have all been hugely impressive. But with the latter turning 33 before the new season gets underway, there will be questions over whether he can play in as many matches as he has for a second year in a row.

With that in mind, Gibbs-White will surely find himself starting to become a regular in the Wolves side next term.

Given Neves and Dendoncker are more defensive minded players, then Moutinho would be the most likely to drop out should the 19-year-old start to prosper further. That’s unless Wolves change their system to accommodate the young star.

Moutinho was their leading creative light after arriving, claiming eight assists, but if you look at Gibbs-White’s performances at international youth level then there is a key argument to suggest he can take over the mantle from Moutinho.

He’s an exceptional player when coming from deep, having a canny knack of arriving in the penalty area late, either to pop up with a goal or move the ball quickly onto his teammates.

This was evident during the game against Chelsea. Incisive passes were the order of the day as he looked to feed Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez into the channels.

But what should scare opposing teams the most is his ability on the ball. Flashback to a time when Jack Wilshere was actually rather good and there are a few similarities.

Gibbs-White can pick up the ball, get past a man and inject a turn of pace into a match from nowhere. It’s players like that who get you out of your seat.

In an age where England have so many promising young players coming through, he is yet another individual capable of starring for his country in the years to come.

For starters, he may get to do that at the European U21 Championships this summer should he be picked. That’ll present an ideal platform for the Wolves man to show his true capabilities on a continental stage.

Good performances there and there’s no reason why he can’t kick on domestically once he returns.

England have lacked players with the ability to carry the ball forward, and in Gibbs-White they have a perfect candidate to erase the thought of boring sideways passing.

Wolves have shown interest in Benfica superstar Joao Felix in recent times. If they pull it off it’ll be a remarkable transfer coup. But they may be better off relying on their own young talent. It’s definitely a far better option financially.

His debut season in the top-tier of English football was a promising one but next year could be a real breakthrough campaign.

Much has been made about the club’s lack of depth but he is a phenomenal example of why Wolves can ignore the advances Jorge Mendes makes this summer and opt for internal solutions.

After all, Nuno is aiming to keep his squad small again next season. As a result, the opportunity will surely be there for their exciting prospect to eclipse his elder colleagues.