Why Wolves' new €15m man is set to impress - and he already looks at least as good as Aït-Nouri

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Wolves are on the verge of completing a £12.7m signing - but how good is he, and how does he compare to Gary O’Neil’s current squad?

The fee is agreed, the contract is signed, and assuming all goes well with his medical later this week, Braga youngster Rodrigo Gomes will become Wolverhampton Wanderers’ second signing of the summer. But what will the 20-year-old bring to the Molineux, and how does he stack up against the players already in place?

Gomes, whose arrival will follow the permanent signing of Manchester City’s Tommy Doyle, is a six-cap Portugal Under-21 international who cemented his reputation as a burgeoning talent when on loan at Estoril last season. Brought through at Braga as a winger, he predominantly played as a wing-back during his loan spell and scored seven goals in the Primera Liga, assisting seven more on top – all of which has persuaded Gary O’Neil and his transfer team to spend €15m (£12.7m) on acquiring his services.

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Versatility is certainly one of Gomes’ strengths (although right-footed, he regularly plays on both flanks as either full-back, wing-back or out-and-out winger) and that ability to play right the way up and down the pitch will allow him to cover several positions in a way nobody else in the current Wolves squad can, but he’s also got an exceptional dribbling game that make sure he isn’t just able to play in multiple positions but able to thrive there.

Gomes’ game is based almost entirely on running – he has tremendous close control, is shifty and hard to tackle, and is genuine quick, while allows him to get the ball up into the final third and past defenders almost at will. He’s also got impressive off-ball movement and repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to slip away from his man and into spaces in and around the area, which is where he scored most of his goals from.

That impressive total of seven assists may slightly flatter him, however. He only generated 3.1xG’s worth of chances and owes a debt to his team-mates’ finishing, and he does have a passing game which needs a lot of work. On average last season, he attempted just over 31 passes per match and completed only 71.4% of them – neither number is remotely impressive and does hint at a lack of a more well-rounded game. Fortunately, his dribbling and finishing are strong enough that a lack of broader talent may not be such a hindrance.

It will be interesting to see where Wolves play him. His success as a wing-back at Estoril hints that O’Neil may be leaning back towards the 3-5-2 formation, while his goalscoring prowess suggests that he could just as easily compete with players like Hwang Hee-Chan for a place in the front three. But the comparison with the current Wolves wing-backs is interesting:

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NationalWorld

The chart above shows how Gomes’ statistics from last season stack up against three of Wolves’ existing players. Even at the age of 20, Gomes would immediately be the best attacking option down the right and while he isn’t as good a defender as the likes of Matt Doherty and Nélson Semedo, he isn’t all that far behind – and only Rayan Aït-Nouri, who has been tentatively linked with Chelsea, could be argued as being a better all-round wing-back based purely off these numbers.

There are caveats, of course, most notably that Gomes playing in Portugal means he will have had a slightly easier time pumping his numbers up than a player would in the Premier League, but all the signs are still there that suggest he is a fine and talented player who can be effective right the way down the flank – and presumably, given his youth, he can develop a fair way further yet. On the evidence of the raw numbers, €15m looks like a very good price for a very gifted player.

Wolves may well tapped into their extensive Portuguese connections to do some very fine business once again – it’s been claimed that Atlético Madrid were interested too, which gives you a flavour of the level of club that considered him worth their time and makes this signing something of a coup. This looks like a move that Wolves fans will be very happy with before too long.

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