Having completed his permanent move to Wolves last summer, Leander Dendoncker has continued to be a virtual ever-present for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
He has played a staggering 45 times across all competitions this season, so much so that, the only two games he has missed, were Wolves’ two Carabao Cup ties against Reading and Aston Villa.
But whilst he has remained a permanent fixture in Nuno’s line-up, he hasn’t been able to establish himself in one position, with his versatility seemingly hindering him from doing so.
In the games collected by Transfermarkt, Dendoncker has played 20 times in central midfield, 16 times at centre-back, and six times in holding midfielder.
Against Brighton on Saturday afternoon, the Belgian showed why he should perhaps be looked at as more of a natural centre-back. Whilst he played in the middle of the park against Graham Potter’s side, Dendoncker’s combative approach showed that he would be a better fit further back.
As per Sofascore, he won a mammoth ten of his 13 duels, whilst the 24-year-old also won three tackles and blocked one shot. And standing at an imposing 6 foot 2, he would fit in well with fellow powerhouses like Willy Boly and Roman Saiss. His height would give him a natural edge when it comes to the aerial battles, whilst his impressive passing accuracy this season – 83.8% in the Premier League – can help him play out from the back.
Nuno only has to look at Conor Coady and how he has transitioned from being a central midfielder earlier in his career, to being a lynch-pin of the Wolves defence, captaining the side – under Nuno, the Englishman has played all 139 of his games at centre-back, whereas the season before the Portuguese man’s arrival, he played in holding midfield and at right-back.
Establishing a position and letting a player develop in that role rather than expecting him to be a jack of all trades, could be the key to unlocking someone’s true potential.
Dendoncker’s monstrous display has given Nuno a major headache as to whether he now places his trust in the Belgian as a bona-fide defensive option, rather than moving him back and forth. And as he’s seen with Coady, it could reap rich rewards.