Plenty of players left Wolves in the summer – but one man who ended up staying despite some speculation about his future was Rayan Ait-Nouri.
Last season was a tough one for the Algeria international.
Ait-Nouri started the 2022/23 season in favour under Bruno Lage.
But he was unavailable through illness for a midweek game against Crystal Palace, with Hugo Bueno coming in to the replace him.
Bueno did so well that he then became the number one choice at left-back.
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When Julen Lopetegui came in, there was potential for Ait-Nouri to enjoy a fresh start.
But the Spaniard did not take to him, and regularly picked Bueno ahead of him.
In a game against Newcastle United, Ait-Nouri was sent on as a substitute by Lopetegui. He got caught high up the pitch out of position, with Newcastle scoring a winning goal in a position where he might have been.
After that, Lopetegui did not select the player for the next seven matchday squads.
He returned to the bench against Aston Villa but didn’t play.
He then missed two more squads, before finally getting a cameo against Arsenal on the final day.
Towards the end of the season, there were suggestions that Ait-Nouri’s laidback style in training had been a reason for him being continually overlooked.
Following this tricky period, there was then some speculation that Ait-Nouri could leave the club in the summer, with French club Nice reportedly showing interest.
But he stuck around and actually, Ait-Nouri deserves credit for the way he has started the new season.
Ait-Nouri is in a much better moment for Wolves
So far, Ait-Nouri has started four of Wolves’ five Premier League games.
He also started the 5-0 win over Blackpool in the Carabao Cup.
There is no doubt that new manager Gary O’Neil has taken to the 22-year-old.
It is as though something has clicked with him, because his performances have been pretty good on the whole. He wasn’t so good against Brighton. But then, was anybody that day?
Against Liverpool on Saturday, Ait-Nouri was really good against Mo Salah, someone he’s had joy against a few times now.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Liverpool got their last two goals from their right side once Ait-Nouri had gone off.
It’s four defeats in five games for Wolves but Ait-Nouri’s renaissance is definitely something to feel positive about.
He is a really exciting young talent who had lost his way a little. He deserves credit for turning things around.