Wolves are facing up to the possibility of going into the 2022/23 season without Ruben Neves.
The maestro has enjoyed a tremendous campaign under Bruno Lage this term.
He has taken his game to another level, and it is more than likely that several teams will be interested in signing him this summer.
There has been mention of Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United already.
It would not be a surprise if many more teams joined the hunt.
And it’s very possible a mammoth offer could come in for the 25-year-old, who has been valued up to £100 million by Lage.
It might be a stretch for Wolves to sell for quite that much. But there’s a certainly a good chance of a very big transfer happening.
And if he goes, Wolves will of course be needing a replacement.
It will be extremely difficult to replace a player of Neves’ class, but here are a few options Wolves recruitment officials could turn to.
Riqui Puig – Barcelona
Puig has already been mentioned as a possible signing for Wolves this summer (SPORT).
There were claims that Barcelona may look to use him in a deal to get Adama Traore. But Barca may now not have much interest in signing the Spaniard – he’s certainly playing very little right now.
Puig is currently on the fringes at the Nou Camp, but the youngster who has previously drawn comparisons to Andres Iniesta would be a very exciting addition for Wolves.
He’s a central midfielder who tends to get into advanced positions a bit more than Neves.
But he’s technically sound and has wonderful vision, potentially making him a great replacement
Matheus Nunes – Sporting CP
The Brazilian has enjoyed a really good campaign over in Portugal this season, making an impressive 49 appearances across all competitions. That certainly suggests he’s durable at the very least.
Nunes has an average pass success rate of 86% in the league so far this season (via WhoScored).
That is actually higher than Neves for Wolves in the Premier League (83%).
A bit like Puig for Barcelona, Nunes does tend to get forward a bit more than Neves does for Wolves.
He’s a bit more dynamic than the Molineux maestro. But he is also great on the ball, which perhaps makes him a decent potential replacement.
Vitinha – FC Porto
Wolves had the chance to sign him for just £17 million at the end of his loan spell at Molineux last season.
Wolves officials decided he hadn’t quite shown enough to warrant that kind of money being spent.
Since leaving, Vitinha has been shining week in, week out for FC Porto.
He has been one of the best players in Portugal this season. He has regularly dominated games in midfield for Sergio Conceicao’s soon-to-be league champions.
He’s been named Player of the Month three times, and recently made his debut for the Portugal senior side.
There would be some jibes if Wolves did re-sign Vitinha at a much higher price than the £17 million they could have got him for.
But Vitinha looks like he could be the real deal. It’s possible he wouldn’t fancy a return given his lack of opportunities under Nuno Espirito Santo. But perhaps there would be a chance he’d like to work with Lage.