Wolves defender Jesus Vallejo has said that he can challenge any of the centre-back trio of Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady and Willy Boly for a place in Nuno Espirito Santo’s starting line-up at Molineux.
The 22-year-old came to the club last month on loan from Real Madrid and, reflecting on his start to life in England, he told Wolves Bite: “I’ve been very happy in my first month. I played in a three-man defence at Real Zaragoza and Eintracht Frankfurt.
“At Wolverhampton, I tend to play more on the right side, but I can genuinely play in any of the three defensive positions. The truth is I feel very at ease in Nuno’s system.”
Vallejo has yet to make his Premier League debut for Wolves but has started the last two Europa League qualifying games. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
In those wins over FC Pyunik and Torino, he started in place of Bennett as the rightmost of Wolves’ centre-back central defensive trio. [via Wolves Bite]
Boly, Coady and Bennett are firmly established as Nuno’s preferred centre-back trio, with each of them making 40 or more appearances last season. Kortney Hause was the only other natural centre-back to feature for Wolves in 2018/19 and he played just twice in that campaign. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Vallejo has played at centre-back for the vast majority of his career thus far but has occasionally filled in at right-back and never played at left-back, which suggests that he would be more at home at the right-hand side of a central defensive three than the leftmost centre-back role.
The Spaniard has been noted by WhoScored.com for his tremendous passing ability, having recorded an 87.8% passing success rate in La Liga last season and 91.2% accuracy for his country at the European Under-21 Championship in June.
Last season in La Liga, Vallejo won 0.6 aerial duels and 1.2 tackles per game, as well as making 1.4 interceptions per match. [via WhoScored.com]
By contrast, Boly has won 4.3 aerial duels per game this season, with Bennett averaging 3.2 and Coady 2.7 for this metric. [via WhoScored.com]
Boly is Wolves’ best-performing defender for tackles (3.3) and interceptions per game (1.7), but Vallejo outperforms Bennett for both metrics, the Englishman averaging just 0.3 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match. [via WhoScored.com]
With Nuno very rarely deviating from his preferred back three, Vallejo will need to seize upon any chances he gets to try and convince his manager that he could displace one of Bennett, Coady or Boly in the longer-term.
With Boly outperforming all his Wolves centre-back colleagues on several metrics and starting 36 Premier League games last season and all three so far this term, his place in the team looks firmly assured.
However, Vallejo could look at his figures compared to Bennett’s and justifiably feel worthy of further inclusion in Nuno’s starting XI.
Wolves fans, do you think Vallejo is capable of playing anywhere across the centre-back line and could he regularly displace any of the main centre-back trio? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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