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.
Wolves have made excellent use of the ‘try before you buy’ approach to their transfer activity over the last couple of years. Raul Jimenez, who initially came to Molineux on loan from Benfica in 2018, joined permanently in a club record £30m deal last April, as per BBC.
He is not the only member of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad to earn a permanent contract at the club after a successful loan spell. In July 2017, the Wolves manager used the loan market to bring in French defender Willy Boly from Porto, the pair having already worked together at the Estadio Dragao (as per wolves.co.uk).
His Wolves career had barely begun by the time he incurred an injury that kept him out for two months, but he marked his return to action by scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win at Norwich that put them top of the Championship. [via BBC]
He would start every other league match in that promotion season until the final day defeat at Sunderland, by which stage Nuno’s team had already ensured they would lift the Championship trophy.
Boly soon established himself as a towering presence at the back for Wolves, winning 4.1 aerial duels per game, while he was named man of the match by WhoScored on no fewer than eight occasions in the 2017/18 campaign.
Shortly after the season ended, the Frenchman signed a permanent deal at Molineux, joining from Porto for £10m, as per the Express & Star.
Although the signings of Jimenez, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho perhaps garnered wider attention given their appearances in the World Cup and Champions League, Boly’s capture proved to be a very shrewd piece of business for Wolves as they embarked on their first Premier League campaign since 2012.
In just their third match of the season, the centre-back found the net in a 1-1 draw against champions Manchester City, although there was an element of controversy about the goal as TV replays showed the ball being deflected into the net off his forearm, as per The Independent.
His next match against Pep Guardiola’s side wasn’t as enjoyable for Boly, who was sent off just 19 minutes into a 0-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium, but the subsequent two-game suspension would account for the only matches he missed as they ended a fantastic Premier League campaign in seventh place, with the Frenchman scoring four goals along the way.
The 28-year-old was a significant presence in that campaign, with match averages of 3.8 successful aerial duels, 2.4 successful tackles, two interceptions and 4.8 clearances. [via WhoScored]
He also featured in all but one of their games in their run to the FA Cup semi-finals and, with Watford losing the final to Manchester City, their seventh-place finish was good enough to get them into this season’s Europa League.
He has again been a commanding part of the Wolves line-up this term, with a tremendous record of 4.9 successful aerial duels, three successful tackles and 6.5 clearances per game in the Premier League. [via WhoScored]
He has made his mark in Europe, too, scoring the stoppage time winner away to Besiktas at the start of October, a result which showed how far Wolves had come since his arrival at the club in summer 2017, having finished 15th in the Championship the season before.
Boly may have been sent off twice in his Wolves career, but he has received only eight yellow cards in 94 games for the club, the same as his goals tally, which is a formidable statistic for a centre-back. [via TransferMarkt]
Unfortunately for him and his team, he has recently been ruled out for an indefinite period after fracturing his fibula in late October (as per Birmingham Live), with Nuno forced to move players such as Matt Doherty and Romain Saiss out of their natural positions to fill the gap at centre-back.
The nature of his performances has led Arsenal to consider a transfer bid for the defender, according to The Sun, while Darren Bent told Football Insider that Tottenham should sign him as a replacement for potential summer departures Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
The decision to secure Boly permanently for £10m has proven to be a very astute one, with the defender consistently being a dominant presence in the air for Wolves and a surprisingly regular goal threat, too.
Wolves fans, how good a deal does Boly’s £10m capture now seem? Comment below with your views!
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