With Wolverhampton Wanderers deciding to cash in on long-term goalkeeper Rui Patricio this summer, Bruno Lage was forced to splash the cash on a new first-choice option between the sticks, eventually bringing Jose Sa to Molineux in a £7.2m deal.
And, Sa has looked impressive over his eight Premier League appearances so far for Wolves, keeping two clean sheets and making an average of three saves per game – with these returns seeing the ‘keeper average a SofaScore match rating of 6.96.
However, with the Portuguese shot-stopper being 28 years of age, and Wolves’ second choice option, John Ruddy, being 34, the position may require slightly long-term thinking in the coming seasons – a problem which Lage may already possess the solution to.
Having joined the club from Wolves’ West Midlands rivals Aston Villa on a free transfer in the summer of 2020, Matija Sarkic impressed during a loan spell at Shrewsbury Town last season, with the £90k-rated man keeping nine clean sheets and making an average of 2.3 saves per game over his 26 League One appearances.
These metrics saw the shot-stopper earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.80, ranking him as the Shrews’ joint 11th-best player in the third tier of English football – with his performances ultimately convincing Lee Bowyer that the 24-year-old was ready to make the step up to the Championship, with Birmingham taking the shot-stopper on loan for the 2021/22 campaign.
Sarkic has continued his impressive rise at St. Andrew’s, so far making 12 Championship appearances for the Blues, over which the youngster has already kept five clean sheets and has made an average of 2.4 saves per game.
These returns have seen the man who Kris Boyd dubbed an “excellent” goalkeeper average a SofaScore match rating of 6.79, with his early-season performances convincing Bowyer that the Wolves’ loanee deserved to take the number one jersey away from the much more experienced Neil Etheridge.
So, should the Montenegro international continue his fine form in the Championship, having already impressed in League One, the next logical step would be to Premier League football, something that perhaps moves the 24-year-old closer to his own prediction that he will one day become Wolves’ number one between the sticks.
And, with the potential of another season of impressive performances under his belt, Sarkic could well prove to give Lage a major selection headache upon his return to Molineux ahead of the club’s 2022/23 Premier League campaign.