When Bruno Lage took the decision to send Wolverhampton Wanderers central midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White out on loan this summer, it would be fair to say that the majority of the club’s fanbase were not best pleased with the 21-year-old’s departure.
It is easy to see why Wolves fans felt this way, as the England U21 international’s switch to Sheffield United left Lage rather short in the middle of the park, with the Portuguese manager only having the options of Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker, Joao Moutinho and the injured Bruno Jordao in central midfield – none of whom are exactly attack-minded players.
And the concern of the club’s fanbase regarding a lack of creativity and attacking impetus from midfield has largely been proven right so far this season, with Neves being the only midfielder to find the back of the net in the Premier League, while goalkeeper Jose Sa has created the same amount of big chances as Wolves’ most creative midfielder Joao Moutinho.
Meanwhile, it has been a rather contrasting story for Gibbs-White at Sheffield United, as the 21-year-old has proven himself to be one of the most threatening midfielders not only in the Blades squad but in the entirety of the second tier.
Indeed, over his 10 Championship appearances for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side, the £6.3m-rated man has already bagged four goals, registered two assists and created four big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.7 shots and making 1.5 key passes per game.
These metrics have seen the £30k-per-week midfielder average a SofaScore match rating of 7.05, ranking him as the Blades’ joint second-best performer in the league, while his return of four goals also ranks him as the joint fifth-highest scoring midfielder in the division.
It is no wonder, then, that the youngster has been lavished with considerable praise, none more so than from Sheffield United centre-forward Billy Sharp, who said of Gibbs-White: “Morgan’s come in and been instrumental. Scoring goals, creating goals. He really gets the crowd off their feet. He’s brilliant to have in the team. He’s always looking for the killer pass which is obviously brilliant for me.”
However, while it is abundantly clear for all to see that Wolves are desperately in need of a player in the mould of the 21-year-old, there nevertheless appears to be some level of uncertainty surrounding his future at Molineux.
Indeed, Bruno Lage revealed he made the decision to loan the midfielder out following Wolves’ own loan signing of Hee-chan Hwang this summer, and, with it being recently reported that the club are looking to make the South Korea international’s temporary move a permeant switch in January, Gibbs-White’s route back into the 45-year-old manager’s first-team looks as if it could be blocked.
This is something that will undoubtedly cause Lage a rather significant headache come next summer, as the Portuguese boss will have to make a call as to whether or not he believes the midfielder is good enough for a place in his first-team squad – and if not, whether it may be better to cash in on one of his club’s most promising young talents.