New Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui is reportedly keen on signing Cadiz defender Mamadou Mbaye in January, in a deal which could prove to be the Spaniard’s first big mistake in charge of the Old Gold.
The report claims that, while the centre-back has just three appearances for Cadiz to his name this season, those came against tough opposition in Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Betis, and his impressive performances were enough to attract Premier League interest.
While Mbaye is said to be currently sidelined with an adductor injury, a January transfer is definitely on the cards for the young defender, despite him being set to miss the World Cup later this month.
It is easy to see why Lopetegui would want to sign a centre-back at Wolves given their defensive woes so far this season.
After looking so strong at the back for a large proportion of 2021/22, the exits of Conor Coady and Romain Saiss during the summer have left the Old Gold looking very vulnerable and short of options in defence.
Nathan Collins was brought in to partner Max Kilman but Lopetegui currently has just inexperienced options in Toti and Yerson Mosquera available as back-ups.
This was emphasised when Bruno Lage opted to play Ruben Neves in defence in his final game in charge, after Collins’ red card against Manchester City ruled him out for three games.
Therefore, signing a centre-back should be a priority for the incoming manager, but he needs a far more experienced option than Mbaye.
Before his three appearances for Cadiz in La Liga this season, he had made just one previous senior appearance in the Copa del Rey in the 2020/21 campaign, with the vast majority of his outings coming in youth football.
The 6 foot 3 defender’s three appearances throughout 2022/23 have also returned a less-than-impressive 6.43 average rating from WhoScored, so there is little to suggest that he would be a hit in the Premier League, certainly immediately.
If Wolves are to get out of the mess they find themselves in this season, they need experienced defenders who can keep a level head during a relegation battle, rather than untried youngsters with just a handful of senior appearances to their name.
Mbaye might prove to be a solid Premier League defender in the future, but Lopetegui should steer clear of him at the moment given the situation Wolves are in.