When Wolves welcomed Fosun and Nuno Espirito Santo to the club when they were still in the Championship, it caused a bit of a stir.
They suddenly went from a middling second-tier team to one dominating the rest of the league in unrelenting fashion. They broke the Championship transfer record to sign Ruben Neves but there were some even shrewder deals which have gone under the radar.
One of Jeff Shi’s most impressive acquisitions has to be Willy Boly. The Ivorian was playing in Portugal, unsurprisingly for a Wolves transfer target, when he joined on loan from Porto in 2017.
He spent half a season with the Molineux outfit before they turned his temporary switch into a permanent one in the winter of 2018. Boly was worth just £4.5m at the time and his market value has risen astronomically since then.
The defender has become an imperious unit at the back for Wolves, becoming a vital cog in the machine for Nuno alongside Conor Coady. He has played 134 times for the Old Gold and is one of the most imperious centre-backs they’ve had in a long while.
Boly is astute with the ball at his feet and is dominating in the tackle. He may be an introvert but his performances are never quiet. He crashes through players in an eye-catching fashion but then brings the ball forward from defence with poise and grace.
He is now worth £14.4m via Transfermarkt (a rise of 180%) and has become one of the most underrated players in his position in the Premier League.
Speaking about the defender previously, Tim Spiers commented: “Boly is just ridiculous. I mean, it looks like he’s never been away. He looks a better player to me.
“Boly makes such an impact, he rarely makes mistakes, is so dominant in both boxes and vastly underrated by anyone outside the club.”
The colossal 30-year-old has made such an impact in English football that he’s been linked with £30m moves to the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham in recent years.
Why is he so pivotal to Wolves? Simple – after returning from a three-month ankle injury layoff last season, he completely revived Nuno’s defence.
His influence has also been telling throughout the current season. During 15 matches in which Boly was absent from due to injury and illness, Wolves kept only four clean sheets.
It’s easy to see why he’s suddenly become so valuable; he is the glue which binds this defence together. Without him, they’d be a lot worse off, and the numbers show that.