When a new Astroturf pitch was built at Wolves’ Compton Academy in 2019, it didn’t mean a great deal, certainly at first glance.
Though, the money that financed such a development came courtesy of the undisclosed fee paid for a Portuguese player at Wolves.
You can take your pick from the plethora of Iberian stars plying their trade at Molineux but this was one who’d made just a solitary appearance for the first-team; a man who replaced Elliot Watt in a Carabao Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday.
It’s fair to say that none of this can be counted as a landmark moment. Yet in the process of selling the Portuguese sensation, Wolves have arguably made a mistake.
The man in question, of course, is Pedro Goncalves. He was a star for the U23 team that won Premier League 2 and under Rob Edwards’ stewardship, was “outstanding” in the words of the Wolves coach.
Clearly, he wasn’t good enough at that time to earn a better deal in the Midlands. He departed for Famalicao and then joined Sporting Lisbon last summer.
Since then, he’s been dubbed the new Bruno Fernandes and has now been linked with a £50m move to none other than Liverpool. This is a classic tale of transfer woe for Wolves. They have let a diamond slip through the net and judging by their performances this season, they should regret it.
Losing Diogo Jota to Liverpool last summer was far from ideal, but in Pedro Neto they have someone capable of replacing him. They don’t, however, have someone capable of succeeding Goncalves. The attacking midfielder, who can also play on the right, has scored 14 goals in just 18 league appearances this season.
He is a mesmerising footballer but to Edwards, this will come as no surprise. The 22-year-old usurps plenty of Wolves players this season, no less than in the goals department.
On the face of it, Wolves will live to regret this decision. Selling him in 2019 didn’t seem like a bad idea but his development from that moment onwards has been astonishing.
If they can take any solace from the deal, it’s that they’ll take up 20% of whatever fee Sporting receive for his services. That means they’d take a cool £10m. Not bad business at all from a financial point of view.