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Profit Players: Romain Saiss has come from Wolves’ Walter Zenga era to scoring in European wins

This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.

Walter Zenga was a busy man in the summer of 2016, signing 10 players in one month for Wolves after he became their manager on July 30th (as per BBC).

Among the last batch to arrive just before the August 31st deadline (as per BBC) was midfielder Romain Saiss, who signed from French club Angers for a fee of £3.6m, according to TransferMarkt.

BBC reporter Mike Taylor wasn’t wholly unconvinced by Wolves’ scattergun approach in the market that summer, saying: “How much value they will get for their money will not be clear for some time. If things go well, Wolves could have a midfield full of continental flair, but it will be a challenge to get the best out of those players in the gruelling Championship once the days grow short.”

Zenga’s stay at Molineux was decidedly brief, with the Italian sacked after just three months in charge, but Saiss would have far greater longevity in the Black Country.

He was by no means a fixed presence in Wolves’ line-up in his first season at the club, starting 19 Championship games and coming on in five more, but once Nuno Espirito Santo pitched up at Molineux in the summer of 2017, the fortunes of club and player would accelerate rapidly.

Saiss made 42 league appearances (37 as a starter) in the 2017/18 campaign as Wolves romped to promotion back to the Premier League after a six-year absence, the Moroccan chipping in with four goals and impressing sufficiently to make his country’s World Cup squad, featuring in two games at the tournament in Russia.

In preparation for Wolves’ top-flight return, Nuno brought in a multitude of players that summer, including midfielders Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker. [via TransferMarkt]

The heightened competition for places had an impact on Saiss’ involvement in the team, featuring in just half of their Premier League games last season and starting only 12.

However, he applied himself very diligently whenever he was on the pitch – only three Wolves players won more aerial duels per game last season than the Moroccan’s 3.2, while he was also in the top five for tackles (2.1) and interceptions (1.4) per game. [via WhoScored]

Despite those impressive figures, he appeared to be on his way out of the club at one stage this summer, with Turkish journalist Sercan Dikme tweeting in August (via @sercan_dikme) that representatives from Besiktas were negotiating a potential transfer with Wolves.

The 29-year-old stayed put, though, and is on course to feature more prominently this season, with six Premier League starts and six Europa League starts (between qualifying and group stage) to his name already, as per TransferMarkt.

Saiss has made his mark in the latter competition, scoring the equaliser in last week’s 2-1 win away to Slovan Bratislava, and is one of only four players still at the club from the first half of the 2016/17 season. He has again displayed his aerial ability this term, winning 2.9 headers per game – only Willy Boly has a better average, as per WhoScored.

Zenga may have barely had time to organise his desk at Wolves, let alone build a legacy, but his fleeting era has left behind a lasting presence in Saiss, who has repaid his reported £3.6m transfer fee with eight goals in 110 appearances following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

The most recent of those helped Wolves to an away win in Europe, something that would have seemed rather far-fetched when he came to a club that finished 14th in the Championship the season before his arrival.

Wolves fans, do you think Saiss has proven to be excellent value at a reported fee of just £3.6m? Have your say by commenting below!

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Profit Players: Romain Saiss has come from Wolves’ Walter Zenga era to scoring in European wins
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