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Wolves dropped a clanger with Joao Moutinho

Much of the speculation surrounding Wolverhampton Wanderers during the summer was whether or not Portuguese maestro Joao Moutinho would sign a new deal to stay at Molineux.

Eventually, the 36-year-old would agree to a new one-year contract with the Old Gold but his performances this season suggest that former manager Bruno Lage may have made a big mistake in keeping him on.

The once “outstanding” midfielder joined Wolves from Monaco in a deal worth £5m in 2018 and he has been a mainstay at Molineux in the four years since, making 191 appearances and scoring five goals in that time.

It was no surprise that Lage wanted Moutinho to stay for another year in the summer, as he made 35 appearances in the Premier League last season, averaging a solid 6.69 rating from WhoScored for his performances in the top flight.

Sadly, his form this season has been far less consistent, as his 13 league appearances have returned no goals or assists, with an average rating of 6.57 from WhoScored.

Was giving Moutinho a new deal a mistake?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Considering he averaged an impressive 7.06 rating in his first season at Molineux, it is clear how much he has declined with age, and it seems clear that Wolves would be better off starting a younger midfielder as they look to avoid relegation this season.

No player in Wolves’ squad has been dribbled past more often in the current campaign, which emphasises that Moutinho no longer has the legs to compete in the Premier League and the Portuguese pass-master is a luxury which the Old Gold can no longer afford to have.

The summer additions of Matheus Nunes and Boubacar Traore at least give new manager Julen Lopetegui alternative options for when the Premier League resumes next month but in truth, Lage spent an unnecessarily huge chunk of Wolves’ wage budget on Moutinho in the summer, which could come back to bite them in January.

According to Capology, no player in the squad earns more than Moutinho’s £100k-per-week at Molineux, which suggests that Lage was thinking with his heart rather than his head when offering the veteran midfielder a new deal in the summer.

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Can you guess which Wolves player scored the most goals in all competitions during the season in question? Let's start with 2010/11...

It seems clear that Moutinho is no longer good enough to be a regular starter in the top flight, and Wolves fans will be hoping that Lage’s summer blunder doesn’t cost Lopetegui too dearly in January as he looks to overhaul a squad that currently looks doomed to relegation.