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Liam BERRY looks at wolves midfield dilemma

For the first time in many years, Wolves finally have a serious dilemma on their hands regarding their selection in midfield.

With the signing of Matheus Nunes from Portuguese side Sporting CP for a reported fee of around €38million plus add-ons, a club record, Joao Moutinho signing a new contract, and Ruben Neves seemingly set to stay, Wolves boast a very healthy central midfield.

Let’s take a look into the details and figure out how Bruno Lage could use his midfielders in multiple circumstances.


With the new back four system showcased in all four fixtures Wolves have played so far this campaign, the question is whether Lage will be playing with three midfielders or two.

Wolves News - Midfield Dilemma

In pre-season, Lage would predominantly play with the 4-3-3 formation but also tinkered with the 4-2-3-1, both formations of play they have used in the Premier League so far.

In their friendly against Sporting – which was said to be a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the opening day against Leeds – they opted for the 4-3-3 using Ruben Neves as the pivot, with Leander Dendoncker and Joao Moutinho slightly more advanced. It’s important to note that part of this may have come down to Raul Jimenez’s injury against Besiktas, and, had he not been injured, it is possible that we would have seen a 4-2-3-1.

Before the game against Leeds, Moutinho sustained an ankle injury, ruling him out of the said game. So that left Neves and Dendoncker as the only senior midfielders fit, forcing Lage to use the 4-2-3-1.

With Nunes brought in, he was handed his debut only a couple days after his signing was announced, featuring in a midfield three with Neves and Moutinho.

Now with the addition of Nunes, it gives Lage more flexibility in his midfield and further options, so it is thought that three and two in the middle could be used at specific moments. Maybe if they play a pressing side and they need to hold possession, they can use the 4-3-3, whereas if they are playing a team that is difficult to break down, they could use the extra man up front and field the 4-2-3-1.


Neves has been made club captain by Wolves head coach Lage, and it would be thought that he would be one of the first names on the teamsheet given his quality. So the likelihood of him starting will be high.

This gives players like Nunes, Moutinho, and Dendonker one or two places to fight for between them.

Dendoncker has been on form so far this season, with two solid performances in the first two games of the season before Nunes’ arrival.

He has improved his passing side of his game, with 39 per game with a 90% completion rate, compared to his last season’s 23 passes per game with an 87% completion rate. So clear improvement was made there as well as with his defensive attributes. So far, he has only been dribbled past once, whilst making on average five interceptions, two tackles, and two clearances per game.

However, Dendoncker has been linked with a move to French giants Paris Saint Germain, so will be an interesting situation that could develop over the next few days.

His start to the season means Lage could have something to think about if any of his three front-line midfielders drop their standards.


Wolves News - Midfield Dilemma

As you can see, the three midfielders Wolves had before the Nunes signing don’t progress much and are mostly in their half.

Whereas Nunes is very attacking and is mostly seen in that corner of the opponent’s half, so a midfielder that is very much on the front foot, which is what Wolves have been crying out for over a very long time.

Lage could go for two midfielders to hold the ball and protect possession, then one who can drive the ball forwards. An example of this being Neves and Moutinho alongside the new addition Nunes.


And so, the trio that we could well see consistently – given they all are injury free – is Neves, Moutinho, and Nunes. 

Wolves News - Midfield Dilemma

We saw this midfield three play in the game against Spurs on the weekend, with them all playing well and seeming to adapt well to each others’ styles to dominate the midfield.  Nunes looks an excellent prospect.

The reason in how effective these three could be is that they all provide something different, Neves brings the dirty work and dictating play, Moutinho with his vintage passing, and Nunes with his athleticism and his dribbling skills.

With the three being international teammates and playing with each other on multiple occasions, they are no stranger to how they play and would provide Wolves’ defence with protection, with their defensive skills, and gives a strong foundation to build up play and start an attack with the attacking threat they now possess.

Liam Berry, Always Wolves Fan TV


 I am a life long Wolves fan that is passionate for the club. I am a sixth form student who loves writing about things I love!


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