Wolves midfielder Leander Dendoncker has been held up as an example to follow for players who are new to the club.
In an interview with Wolves TV [via Express & Star], the club’s sporting director Kevin Thelwell said that they brought in some “good, strong young talent” last summer in the likes of Patrick Cutrone, Pedro Neto, Bruno Jordao, Meritan Shabani and Jesus Vallejo and he now hopes that they can succeed the Belgian in pushing for regular first team inclusion.
He told Wolves TV: “I think with the guys we brought in Cutrone, Neto, Jordao, Shabani and Vallejo – you can see we have brought in a lot of good, strong young talent that is able to support the group.
“The hope is just like with Dendoncker, they find their feet quickly and start to challenge and push some of that senior team and start to take starting places.”
Since coming to Wolves on a loan-to-buy deal in August 2018, Dendoncker has evolved into a key part of Nuno Espirito Santo’s line-up.
The 24-year-old was by no means a fixed presence in the team last season, with only 19 Premier League appearances in his first year at the club, but he has played in all of their league and European games this season, being omitted only from the much-changed Carabao Cup line-ups against Reading and Aston Villa.
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That in itself shows that Nuno now regards Dendoncker as a key first team player, which should come as no great surprise seeing as he has the second highest passing success rate in the squad (82.7%), as per WhoScored.
None of the five summer signings name-checked by Thelwell have yet managed to establish themselves in Wolves’ line-up – Cutrone has made 19 appearances but started only three Premier League games, Vallejo has just seven appearances, Neto has been limited to six starts while Jordao and Shabani have had a mere 119 minutes of senior game-time between them.
It is worth noting that all five of the players named by Thelwell are 22 or under, whereas Dendoncker was 23 and already had Champions League experience and played in a World Cup for Belgium by the time he came to Wolves.
While he arrived at Molineux with greater experience than the likes of Cutrone, Neto and Vallejo, his step-up from playing just nine Premier League minutes before Christmas last season to becoming a first team mainstay just a few months later illustrate that players can earn their place in Nuno’s line-up if they are patient and seize their opportunity.
Wolves fans, can you see this year’s summer signings following Dendoncker’s lead in earning a regular place in the team after a slow start? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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