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Wolves linked with Manuel Ugarte

Wolverhampton Wanderers are reportedly interested in Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte and the Uruguayan could be a superb addition to Julen Lopetegui‘s side at Molineux.

What’s the word?

According to Media Foot, the Midlands outfit and Atletico Madrid are already in talks to sign the 21-year-old thanks to his agent Jorge Mendes, who has a strong connection with both clubs.

Lopetegui has already recruited Matheus Cunha in the January transfer window and the Spanish boss is no doubt looking for more recruits across the pitch this month as he looks to pull the Old Gold away from any relegation battle this season.

Ugarte is currently valued at €18m (£15.9m) by Transfermarkt and still has three and a half years to run on his contract with Sporting, which suggests that any deal for the midfielder this month could prove to be an expensive one.

However, considering his impressive performances in both the Primeira Liga and Champions League so far this campaign, it could be a worthwhile investment by the Midlands club, especially if he can play a big part in keeping them in the Premier League in the second half of the campaign.

He’s exactly what Lopetegui needs

While there is no doubt that Wolves are blessed with a lot of midfield talent, with Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Matheus Nunes all excellent passers of a football, there is an argument that none of these options boasts the physical attributes of a defensive-minded midfielder such as Ugarte.

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Bruno Lage on the touchline for Wolves.

1. Wolves kick-started 2022 with an impressive win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, who scored the winner?

The Uruguayan has contributed more tackles per game (three) in the Portuguese Liga than anyone in the Wolves squad, while he has also averaged a mammoth 4.8 tackles per game in the Champions League this season.

In fact, no player has won more tackles or duels in the UCL this term, so it is easy to see why football talent scout Jacek Kulig described him as a “midfield machine.”

When in a relegation battle, technical ability on the ball is often outweighed by mental attributes such as desire and determination and Ugarte certainly seems to be a full-blooded midfielder, with FBref suggesting that he scores in the top 10 of percentages for tackles, blocks, interceptions, passing and dribbling when compared to other midfielders across Europe’s top leagues.

Therefore, Lopetegui should definitely look to bring the Uruguay international to Molineux this month, as it seems clear that he could offer something very different in the Wolves midfield.