Wolverhampton Wanderers will likely be kicking themselves with regards to their handling of former loanee Vitinha, with the Portugal international having since gone on to impress for Ligue 1 powerhouse, Paris Saint-Germain.
The diminutive midfielder had arrived at Molineux on a season-long loan deal back in the summer of 2020, with the Faro-born starlet having made just 12 appearances for parent club Porto prior to that move to England.
A relatively inexperienced talent at the time, the 5 foot 8 menace found it difficult to force his way into Nuno Espirito Santo’s side ahead of compatriots Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, eventually making just 22 appearances in all competitions, including only eight starts.
That limited involvement – which saw the youngster score once in an FA Cup triumph over Chorley – ultimately saw the Midlands outfit spurn the chance to sign him on a permanent deal in 2021, having reportedly had a buy option of around £17m as part of his temporary move.
While it had appeared astute business at the time, that decision not to plump up the cash has spectacularly backfired for the Old Gold, with the four-cap ace currently thriving for both club and country.
A return to the Estadio do Dragao for the 2021/22 season showcased just what a talent the playmaker is as he went on to score four goals and register five assists in 47 games in all competitions for the Primeira Liga side.
That haul of nine goal contributions was only bettered by Raul Jimenez (11) – and matched by Daniel Podence – in Bruno Lage’s side last term, while he also achieved an impressive average match rating of 7.47, as per SofaScore, with that also far higher than any member of the Wolves squad.
That form unsurprisingly sparked interest from afar as he was subsequently snapped up by PSG in the recent window, with the Parisien outfit forking out a reported £34m to secure his signature – double what those at Molineux could have signed him for just a year earlier.
That move has already paid off as the 22-year-old has quickly become a key figure in Christopher Galtier’s star-studded side, lining up in a midfield berth behind a mouthwatering attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Vitinha has been a shining light in his ten appearances for the French outfit so far, showcasing his quality in possession as he notably ranks in the top 5% for dribbles completed and the top 7% for progressive carries among his peers in Europe’s big five leagues, while his ball-winning talent has also seen him rank in the top 2% for interceptions made.
Now “emerging into an elite midfielder”, in the words of writer Zach Lowy, the highly-rated prospect is now said to be valued at around £54m, according to CIES Football Observatory, with that a reflection of not just the great strides he has made since leaving England, but also the size of the mistake Wolves made on him.
While Lage has pulled off a coup landing Matheus Nunes, he is still left to rely on a quality, yet ageing Moutinho – as well as a potentially departing Neves – with the former Benfica boss likely to have been aided by having a talent such as Vitinha in his ranks.