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Wolves: Manuel Ugarte could be Ruben Neves’ heir

Wolves are reportedly interested in signing Sporting Lisbon sensation Manuel Ugarte and the 21-year-old could be an ideal heir to Ruben Neves at Molineux.

According to Media Foot last week, Julen Lopetegui’s side and Atletico Madrid are already in talks to sign the 21-year-old thanks to his agent Jorge Mendes, which suggests that a January move could be on the cards for the Uruguay international.

It was suggested in late 2022, when PSG were said to be interested in the young midfielder, that any deal for Ugarte could cost €40m (£35m), so any transfer would be an expensive one for the Old Gold.

However, their connections with Mendes, as well as the signing of Matheus Nunes from Sporting Lisbon during the summer, could give Wolves an advantage in any transfer negotiations, as Lopetegui looks to improve upon his midfield options.

The young midfielder has certainly caught the eye in Ruben Amorim’s side so far this campaign, averaging a 6.92 rating from WhoScored for his performances in the Portuguese top flight, while he has also impressed in the Champions League, earning a 7.05 average rating.

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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?

As per FBref, Ugarte excels at both passing and tackling, scoring in the top percentile for both when compared to other midfielders across Europe.

He also scores in the 97th percentile for interceptions, 96th percentile for dribbles completed and 94th percentile for blocks, which emphasises how much of an all-action midfielder he can be.

Wolves will arguably need a midfielder in this mould when Ruben Neves completes a move away from Molineux, with recent reports suggesting that he could be closing in on a move to Barcelona.

While he is reportedly unlikely to leave in January, Wolves need to plan for his likely exit in the summer and given that Neves is ranked as the top passer and top tackler in the Old Gold’s squad so far this campaign, Ugarte could be a natural replacement.

The Sporting Lisbon star is still young and will no doubt be attracting interest given his performances in the Champions League, so if he does arrive at Molineux it will be a coup, and there seems no reason why he can’t fill the boots of Neves in the future.