During the summer transfer window, Wolves‘ Rayan Ait-Nouri was a man in demand, with the Old Gold reportedly valuing him at £45m, but now he can’t get a game at Molineux.
Wolves initially signed Ait-Nouri on loan from Angers SCO in October 2020 before making the move permanent the following summer, following some impressive performances in the 2020/21 campaign.
The young full-back would make 21 appearances in that season, averaging a solid 6.56 rating from WhoScored for his performances in the Premier League after contributing one goal and one assist throughout some energetic displays.
He was one of the star performers in Bruno Lage’s side last season, averaging a much improved 6.96 rating from WhoScored, which ranked him as the top-rated player at Molineux of those to make at least five appearances.
This earned him a lot of praise from Lage, who said: “What Rayan’s doing is a fantastic season and he deserves this moment. We tried to do our best and we changed a little bit.”
Therefore, it is easy to see why he was attracting some interest during the summer transfer window, with Chelsea and Manchester City told that they would have to pay £45m if they wanted to prise him away from Molineux.
Sadly, it seems as if Wolves will be lucky to ever receive that sort of money for the left-back now, after a hugely disappointing start to the campaign which has seen him waste away on the bench after losing his place in the starting XI.
Although he is still only 21, his 6.54 average rating from WhoScored represents a huge decline from last term and it is perhaps no surprise that he has made just one start under Steve Davis following the sacking of Lage in early October.
Recent games against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Brentford have even seen 20-year-old Hugo Bueno start ahead of him at left-back and after some eye-catching performances from the Spaniard which included an assist at Selhurst Park, Ait-Nouri may well struggle to get his starting spot back.
It seems as if Lage’s decision to switch to a four-at-the-back formation has really harmed Ait-Nouri’s potential as he was excelling as a wing-back in 2021/22.
To go from an in-demand £45m-rated star to a bench option for a side in real danger of relegation represents a disappointing fall from grace for the French defender.