This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
When Wolves shipped on Helder Costa in the summer, there is likely to have been mixed feelings.
On one hand, the decision to relinquish a man who had produced just three goal involvements in 2018/19 seemed like smart business.
However, with a small squad, shipping on someone with attacking quality may have looked incredibly questionable, especially given the added demands of the Europa League when they’d only used 21 players in the Premier League last term.
Fortunately for Wolves, they’ve come out the other side and agreeing a £15m deal for a struggling performer now appears to be daylight robbery.
Wolves were able to get a man off their books that simply wasn’t up to the task of England’s top-flight. On the evidence of 2019/20, he doesn’t look like he’s got what it takes to deliver in the second tier either. Their decision to loan and sell has already been vindicated.
The Portuguese has gone from one of Wolves’ most threatening players to struggling on a weekly basis for Marcelo Bielsa’s high-flying Leeds.
As the international break disrupted domestic action, the 25-year-old brought up a run of not contributing to a single goal for 12 league outings.
Initially having to withstand a lack of game time, he was brought in when their mercurial Spaniard Pablo Hernandez was injured. Yet, since that very incident back in mid-September, he’s not assisted a goal and has failed to find the back of the net.
But that isn’t what Costa is, he’s a nippy winger with the ability to beat his man and finish chances with regularity. Or so we thought, anyway.
His solitary goal involvement in the Championship happened back in August and he looks a shadow of the man that contributed to 29 strikes in two seasons in the division with Wolves.
On the face of it, Nuno’s men have done some remarkable business in commanding £15m for a player who was deemed surplus.
Their own campaign started in dismal fashion, failing to win their opening seven Premier League matches amid the added stress of the Europa League. A lack of depth was evident but their own fortunes have changed for the better.
Wolves have now lost just once in their last 12. They don’t miss Costa and they’re showing signs of what earned them seventh place last term.
Meanwhile, that extra financial gain they’ll bring in next summer when his move to Yorkshire becomes permanent could just be telling.