Wolverhampton Wanderers are surely gearing up for a busy January transfer window as much has been made about where their interests may lie.
Several names have since been mooted with a move to Molineux – defensively, there’s been Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben Davies, and Aurelio Buta while in midfield Dejan Kulusevski and Dwight McNeil have also been linked.
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However, there’s one name that has continuously cropped up ever since the summer, and that’s Franck Kessie.
This could well be the saga that embroils the club throughout January, but the latest reports from Tuttosport via Sport Witness claim that the west Midlands outfit are indeed the front-runners to sign the 22-year-old as AC Milan have stepped up interest in signing Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic.
According to SportItalia per Football Italia, the club had agreed on a €28m (£24m) fee for the box-to-box midfielder back in August, but nothing came to fruition.
But should Nuno Santo and the Wolves hierarchy revisit the Serie A ace?
Here’s what the writers at Football FanCast think…
“A box-to-box powerhouse, Franck Kessie could add some real legs and dynamism to the Wolves midfield. Whilst Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho have been permanent fixtures in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – they have played over 20 games each this season, respectively – Kessie could be the man to break up that partnership.
“As per Whoscored, he has averaged 1.1 shots and one dribble per game in Serie A this year, and that ability to provide some attacking impetus from the middle of the park could help ease the burden on the likes of Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota.
“When Milan legend Gennaro Gattuso exclaims that Kessie is “far better” than he ever was because he could chip in with vital goals, you know you’ve got a top-class player. A January swoop for a man who scored seven times in the Italian top-flight last season would be gold-dust for Wolves.”
“Wolves seem to be keen on Franck Kessie after showing an interest in him last summer, and that suggests that he is highly-rated by those at the club, or could even be one of Nuno’s top targets.
“However, he’d probably be a waste of money. While he would add to the strength in depth in midfield, which is always valuable, he doesn’t add anything which Joao Moutinho or Ruben Neves lack, as between them they keep possession ticking over and win the ball back for their side, with the former managing 3.6 tackles per game this term, compared to Kessie’s 1.6.
“At a reported €30-35m he wouldn’t come cheap, and Wolves have shown previously that they are able to find bargains, as the price tags of aforementioned midfielders attest to, Moutinho costing just £5m, and Neves £15m.
“That means there should be more affordable players available who would be able to add that bit extra the club is looking for.”
“If this deal is on the table, then Wolves simply have to exercise it. Nuno Santo’s midfield is easily one of the best in the division, boasting Portuguese Nations League winners in Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be strengthened further.
“By all accounts, Leander Dendoncker was made to look average in that position this season, achieving an average match rating of 6.49, but has since undergone a period of rejuvenation in the centre of defence – he won 5 aerial duels and made a colossal ten clearances against Villa in that role. With Romain Saiss also playing further back, it leaves a gap in the middle of the park to be exploited. Franck Kessie is a man blessed with multiple talents and would be a stellar addition to Wolves.
“At the age of 22, he fits the mantra of building the squad around young up and coming players and not only is he comfortable on the ball, possessing a pass success of 87% in Serie A this term, but he’s also a strong tackler, making 1.6 of them per game. The box to box man isn’t afraid to get forward either, mustering 1.1 shots per game. His all-round game appears up to scratch, and his bustling energy should suit the Premier League perfectly.”
“Had this been in the summer, this move wouldn’t have suited either party as Wolves boss Nuno Santo had solid strength and depth in central midfield, but a culmination of different circumstances over the past month or so has meant that recruitments are certainly needed in the January transfer window.
“Leander Dendoncker has proven he’s more than capable of stepping up to the plate as a central defender rather than in midfield, his performance against Aston Villa in the role last weekend proves that to an extent. While Ryan Bennett is closing in on a return from injury and there’s also Max Kilman, who too has shown his credentials to Nuno in the last few matches.
“Kessie would offer up a presence that would perfectly complement either Ruben Neves or Joao Moutinho, or even both, as he’s capable of operating box-to-box with his physical strength – averaging 1.6 tackles and 1.1 fouls per game this season – and a knack for finding the net – 13 goals since the start of the 17/18 season.
We’ll have to wait just two more months to find out whether these reports are indeed accurate.