The mighty £30m signing to replace Wolves’ Matheus Nunes if he joins Man City - according to Football Manager
Is this the man to replace Matheus Nunes at Wolves if the Portugal star secures a transfer deadline-beating move to Premier League champions Manchester City?
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The future of Matheus Nunes is set to continue dominating the headlines as the final days of the summer transfer window draw ever closer.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder will face disciplinary action after refusing to train as he looks to force through a move to Premier League champions Manchester City. The two clubs have already been in contact over a potential move after the treble winners saw an opening bid of around £47 million rejected by the Molineux hierarchy and there have been claims Wolves will only consider a deal if an offer of over £60m is submitted.
City are said to be keen to bring a swift conclusion to their attempts to land the Portugal international before Friday night’s deadline but Wolves are adamant they will not allow Nunes to depart unless their demands for a player under contract until the summer of 2027 are met.
But where could Wolves turn if Nunes does depart? We fire up Football Manager 2023 to see who the world’s most popular managerial simulation believes will replace the powerful midfielder in Gary O’Neil’s squad.
Bundesliga star arrives but the early signs aren’t positive
A deal to take Nunes to the Etihad Stadium was concluded as Manchester City met Wolves’ £60m demands and the Molineux club wasted little time in finding a replacement. RB Leipzig star Amadou Haidara arrives for half of the fee received for Nunes and performs well during pre-season and takes his form into an impressive 3-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on the opening day of the season.
However, that failed to set the tone for the opening two months of the season as Wolves embarked on a run of nine games without a win and only two of those fixtures saw O’Neil’s side claim a point. There was a real early blow for Haidara as he was shown a straight red card in a 3-1 home defeat against Arsenal as his new side slumped to the bottom of the Premier League table.
The Carabao Cup run came to an immediate end with a penalty shoot-out defeat against West Ham United in the second round and the only real positive came with a gritty display in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United as Haidara scored what would be his only goal of the season.
The struggles continue for Wolves and Haidara
The run to the crucial festive period saw Haidara suffer a groin injury as he missed a trio of 2-1 defeats against Brentford, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham before returning for what would be a rare win as Max Kilman and Rayan Ait-Nouri netted in a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.
Defeats against Nottingham Forest and Everton either side of New Year’s Eve kept Wolves at the bottom of the table but the latter of those losses brought down the curtain on O’Neil’s reign. Former Mallorca and Atletico Madrid manager Javier Aguirre was named as his replacement and the Mexican kicked off his time in charge with a 2-0 win at National League club FC Halifax Town in the FA Cup third round and a 3-0 win against West Ham United in a Premier League fixture.
New signings, same old form
Haidara remained in the side as the final week of January approached but there was further trouble on the pitch as a 2-1 loss against Manchester United ensured Wolves made their way into deadline day sat in the Premier League’s bottom three. Napoli defender Leo Ostigard arrived at a cost of £6.25m and he was followed by Galatasaray centre-back Victor Nelsson - but their arrival failed to spark an improvement as the defensive woes continued.
There was a four-match unbeaten run but only one of those games returned a maximum return as Sasa Kaladjzic got the winner in a 2-1 victory against Nottingham Forest. Despite that win, Wolves still sat at the foot of the Premier League table.
Relegation confirmed by the worst run of the season
It won’t be a surprise to learn that relegation arrived earlier than expected as a run of seven consecutive defeats culminated in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City and relegation into the Championship. To make matters worse, Haidara missed a penalty at the Etihad Stadium as Phil Foden’s goal condemned Wolves to the drop.
Two wins in the final four games did inject some positivity but that was ended in abrupt fashion as two goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli inspired Arsenal to a 5-0 win at Molineux on the final day of the campaign.
Unsurprisingly, Aguirre was sacked just days after the campaign ended and Haidara’s stay at Wolves seems likely to be limited to one year after he submitted a transfer request and is now attracting interest from Roma, Borussia Dortmund and former club RB Leipzig. A bit of disaster all round, then, in all honesty.