Wolves‘ decision to keep hold of Pedro Neto during the summer has somewhat backfired, as his performances prior to injury were far from good enough.
The Portuguese winger looked to have established himself as one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League with his performances for the Old Gold in the 2020/21 campaign, as he hit five goals and six assists in 31 top-flight appearances, averaging a superb 7.11 rating from WhoScored.
Having signed Neto from Lazio in a double swoop alongside Bruno Jordao in 2019, it seemed as if the young winger would be the next big talent to emerge at Molineux, perhaps following in the footsteps of Diogo Jota after his big money to Liverpool.
BBC pundit Alan Shearer was certainly won over by Neto in that impressive 2020/21 campaign, labelling the young winger a “huge talent” after he produced a match-winning performance against Southampton.
Unfortunately for the 22-year-old, it has seemingly all been downhill since then, with injury ruling him out for much of the 2021/22 campaign, as he made just 13 appearances in the Premier League, contributing one goal and one assist.
There was hope that, with a full pre-season under his belt, Neto would be able to get back to his best with the Old Gold this season and provide some of the attacking and creative spark that Wolves missed under Bruno Lage in the last campaign.
However, he struggled immensely at the start of the season, failing to notch a single goal or assist in any of his opening eight appearances for the club.
It was something of a surprise, therefore, when Wolves reportedly turned down a number of approaches from Arsenal for Neto during the summer transfer window, with one report claiming that the Gunners were willing to pay £35m for the winger.
However, Jeff Shi clearly felt that he was in a strong financial position following the sale of Morgan Gibbs-White to Nottingham Forest and demanded £50m for Neto, which Mikel Arteta’s side were understandably not willing to pay.
That decision now looks to have been a poor one, as Neto’s form this season, like many others, has been very disappointing. The injury he picked up in the defeat against West Ham, which looks set to keep him sidelined for a number of months, only made matters worse.
Had Wolves sold Neto they could have added quality in other positions such as centre-back and striker, where a lack of depth has already been exposed this season after injuries to Raul Jimenez and Sasa Kalajdzic, as well as the suspension of Nathan Collins.
Therefore, this decision must surely go down as a blunder by Shi, as it seems unlikely that Neto could be sold for anywhere near £35m if he maintains his recent form when he does return from injury.