Wolves are still in a torrid place at the moment and heading into their clash with Chelsea, were severely off the pace in their quest for European football.
Relegation talk had spawned at Molineux with the Midlands club winning just three of their last 11 outings. However, a solid 0-0 draw with Thomas Tuchel’s men has gained them some positive momentum.
Add that to the arrival of Willian Jose and there are reasons to be positive again for the Old Gold.
Just as Wolves welcome new faces, the fear of exits in the summer are beginning to emerge. Adama Traore’s future at the club seems to be a constant worry amid recent links to Leeds but another of their star men is now having their future questioned.
That comes courtesy of The Athletic’s Tim Spiers who discussed Joao Moutinho on his latest podcast:
“I think you’ve got to question if this is his final season, certainly as a first-choice player,” Spiers began.
“I think he’d be good to have around the squad, he’s important in the dressing room, but [not] as a first choice. He’s 35 this year, he can still have an impact on games, but not nearly as regularly as he was doing it before,” the journalist added.
That’s a worrying assessment for someone who has been such a regular thought in Nuno’s plans.
Fortunately, they have a ready-made heir right in front of them.
However, there’s a player already in the squad that Wolves could use as the Portuguese’s heir.
That happens to be Vitinha. The midfielder arrived on loan from Porto in the summer but the club have an option to buy him in the summer.
Now, if Moutinho’s place really is under threat ahead of next season, they’d be incredibly wise to use that clause to bring him to Molineux on a permanent basis.
That’s because the 20-year-old already possesses a host of similar qualities. Speaking to the club website after his arrival, Nuno Barbosa, a reporter from Jornal de Noticias said: “The way he puts the ball on his offensive teammates can destroy the opponents’ offensive line. Vitinha thinks very fast with the ball. He’s not very physical, tall or strong, but he has all the essential qualities for a midfielder.”
Barbosa concluded: You’ll realise he knows what to do at every moment of the game, he’s very similar to Joao Moutinho.”
Vitinha has already made a big impact this term with the tip of the iceberg being his performance at Old Trafford.
He scored a sumptuous long-range effort against Chorley in the FA Cup but it was his virtuoso display in the middle against Manchester United that gave us the biggest Moutinho vibes.
In that fixture, the youngster won 100% of his duels and completed 100% of his dribbles. That happened to be his very first Premier League start and provided all the reasoning behind why he could be the club’s new Moutinho.
In Barbosa’s interview with the club, he gave the following verdict: “Moutinho is a reference in Portuguese football, in the national team. He’s 34-years-old and sooner or later will stop playing, and I believe his successor will be Vitinha.”
Given Jeff Shi dubbed the player “special” when he signed, it would be a big surprise if he didn’t invest permanently.
Vitinha would certainly be a cut-price way to replace the wise head of Moutinho.