In January, Wolves splashed out £16.6m on Olympiacos forward Daniel Podence.
However, since arriving at Molineux, the 24-year-old is yet to start a game other than Thursday’s Europa League clash against Espanyol, with only two Premier League appearances to his name – both from the bench.
In fairness to Nuno Espirito Santo, it must be hard for him given the wealth of attacking talent he has at his disposal.
The Wolves boss has Diogo Jota, Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, Pedro Neto and Morgan Gibbs-White to select from along with Podence, while only affording a maximum of three attacking positions to these players – Nuno tends to deploy either a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 system with wing-backs.
However, there is one Nuno quirk which could really leave Podence in the wilderness until next season.
Nuno has used just 20 players in the Premier League this season, the fewest of any manager in England’s top-flight – he used only 18 different players last term as well, which again, was the lowest of any side in the division.
He is extremely consistent in his approach, trusting the same crop of players to deliver the goods on most occasions. Tellingly, five players have featured in all 27 of Wolves’ Premier League fixtures this season – Conor Coady and Rui Patricio have started each and every one, while ten players have started in at least 19.
In that respect, it feels unlikely that Podence will be handed opportunities to build on his two Premier League cameo appearances so far this term unless something drastic happens to Jota, Jimenez, Neto, Gibbs-White or Traore.
It should also be noted that – as we recently outlined – Jota performs best in a 3-5-2 formation, a system which doesn’t accommodate for Traore unless he is used as a right wing-back. The Portugal forward scored a hat-trick in December when playing in that set-up, and didn’t score again until Nuno brought it back against Espanyol recently.
If Nuno again uses that system to get the best out of Jota, it only further reduces Podence’s chances of making the starting XI.
It very much feels like Nuno’s approach in terms of the personnel he deploys could see Wolves’ January signing left in the wilderness until next season begins, having to feed off minutes here and there rather than being given a proper run in the starting XI.
In other news, Wolves should feel comfortable to move Jota on with one man waiting in the wings…