Wolves are taking on Arsenal on Sunday in their final Premier League game of the season – and it’s going to be very interesting to see if Rayan Ait-Nouri will get a chance to play.
The Algeria international has fallen back into the shadows at Molineux in recent times.
The youngster has not played for Wolves since coming on as a substitute against Newcastle United in March.
In that game, Ait-Nouri was caught high up the pitch and out of the position, with Newcastle’s winning goal coming from his side of the pitch. Jamie Carragher suggested at the time that he was partly at fault.
Ait-Nould would then miss the next seven matchday squads for Wolves.
He finally returned to the squad against Aston Villa on May 6. But he did not get any minutes.
And in the two games since, against Manchester United and Everton, Julen Lopetegui has again overlooked him for the squad.
It’s been a very odd situation.
Because Ait-Nouri, at least on paper, is one of the most talented young players at Molineux.
There have been moments where Ait-Nouri has been linked with top clubs having been in really impressive form for Wolves.
But Lopetegui just hasn’t seemed to fancy the £10 million star.
So Sunday is something of a day of reckoning for the 21-year-old. If he isn’t included in the squad again, that could well suggest he’ll be off in the summer.
It feels like Rayan Ait-Nouri is heading for the exit at Wolves – Sunday will be telling
It will be fascinating to see the teamsheet on Sunday and to see whether Ait-Nouri is on it.
It has been suggested that the reason Ait-Nouri hasn’t been making matchday squads lately is because he is perhaps not quite as intense as some of the other players. He is more laidback. Ditto Raul Jimenez.
There have been no suggestions of a ‘bust-up’ or the player having attitude problems. It has seemingly been a case of Lopetegui being more taken by other players.
Wolves are now said to have some concerns about Financial Fair Play. It has been suggested the club will need to make several player sales this summer.
Ait-Nouri might be someone the club are thinking of offloading.
But if he finally gets a chance again on Sunday, and plays well, then he might just have the manager saying he wants to keep him.
That is, of course, if he does agitate for a move away.