When Diogo Jota departed Wolves last summer, it left a glaring hole of quality in Nuno Santo’s squad.
Jota developed incredibly in the Midlands and behind Raul Jimenez, quickly became the club’s second in command on the pitch in terms of goal involvements.
The way the Portuguese slalomed beyond defenders in the Old Gold was a sight to behold and last term, he finished the campaign with seven Premier League strikes to his name.
Although he’s had an injury-hit spell at Liverpool, the forward has taken his game to a brand new level. Jota has netted a Champions League hat-trick for the Reds and with Raul Jimenez still out while he recovers from a fractured skull, he would have been useful at Molineux this term.
Though, with Pedro Neto helping himself to eight goal involvements, they already have a ready-made replacement in Jota’s area of the pitch.
A bigger miss in 2020/21 has been the presence of Jonny – their ever-reliable and consistent wing-back.
The Spaniard is adept at playing on either flank and with Wolves conceding goals on such a regular basis, their defence has struggled without him. Jeff Shi brought Nelson Semedo, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Marcal and Ki-Jana Hoever to Wolves last summer but none of those players have replicated what Jonny can produce.
Semedo has been a pillar of inconsistency on the left while Marcal and Ait-Nouri are now both injured. Jonny hasn’t been seen all season after picking up a knee ligament injury that required surgery last August.
Since then, Nuno’s backline has been woeful. They have kept just one clean sheet in the league since October and are missing a commander like Jonny.
Often the underrated aspect of Wolves’ team, Tim Spiers described him as a player who “goes under the radar” last year.
Considering the statistics, it’s hard to understand why that’s the case. Though, what his numbers from last term do dictate is how big a miss he’s been to a depleted and error-prone defence.
Last season, the 26-year-old won 91 tackles in the Premier League. That was the second-highest tally behind Joao Moutinho meaning he topped Wolves’ defenders. In terms of interceptions, Jonny produced 53 – putting him behind only Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss.
He also produced plenty going forward, making 23 key passes. That happened to be the most of any Wolves defender in 2019/20.
It’s clear the £75k-per-week defender offers plenty of protection and offensive qualities to the side and it can be no coincidence that without him, they look so troubled.
Express & Star reporter Joe Edwards typified the wing-back perfectly in 2019, writing: “Otto is completely and utterly dependable – an unselfish, proper team player who gives his absolute maximum every time he pulls on gold and black. What’s not to love about that?”
It’s difficult to say much of that has been the case at Wolves this season. Nuno must lust after his return.