The Spaniard has a massive job on his hands in order to maintain the club’s top-flight status, and there will be certain players who might soon find themselves out of the team.
Following on from another poor performance in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, Joao Moutinho could soon find himself making way for another player in the starting XI.
Against Brighton, the midfielder looked a shadow of his former self, with Express & Star’s Liam Keen noting of his display that in “similar fashion to other games this season, the game largely passed Moutinho by”.
Indeed, the Portuguese made just 25 passes and took 38 touches of the ball during the match, failing to exert his experience or influence in a Wolves side that played the whole second half reduced to ten men.
His overall SofaScore rating that the 36-year-old has achieved this season is a more than respectable 7.01/10 however, certain performance indicators suggest he is having less of an impact on the team.
Last season, on average, Moutinho took 68.5 touches of the ball per match, but this season that has dropped to 58.9 per match. Meanwhile, he has made only 50% of his attempted dribbles so far this campaign, compared to an impressive figure of 76% last year.
Even defensively, his numbers have dropped with fewer interceptions (1.0 to 0.8) and clearances (0.9 to 0.6) this season already and this may have played a small part in the Molineux side’s shoddy defensive record this season, conceding 22 goals in 14 matches.
Those numbers are perhaps even more damning when you consider the Old Gold have had more defending to do in 2022/23.
In September, the £100k-per-week midfielder was left out of the Portugal squad with writer Zach Lowy claiming that “he’s dispensable now”, especially with the quality of players that Fernando Santos has available to him, such as Otavio, former Wolves man Vitinha, and Joao Palhinha. With a World Cup kicking off in a matter of days now, it’s hardly ideal timing for the former Monaco man.
If the veteran doesn’t start contributing more effectively for Wolves, Lopetegui might just feel that he can be dispensable for his club too, with plenty of youngsters aiming to break into the starting XI and take his place.