2022 has been a very up-and-down year for Wolves – but Ruben Neves has been a constant.
Hopes were very high at the start of this calendar year. Wolves were in a fantastic position in the Premier League table and going well under former manager Bruno Lage.
He oversaw some great wins over the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, and there was a genuine feeling that Wanderers were in course for some kind of European football.
Sadly though, it all went drastically wrong.
Wolves just didn’t have the squad depth, the experience or (it would later become apparent) the manager to sustain their challenge.
The team didn’t win any of their last seven games of 2021/22, losing five.
it was a major disappointment, and something that prompted many people to begin asking questions of Lage.
Fast forward a few months, and the Portuguese was out of a job. It was clear that he had lost the players, with many underperforming this season, for one reason or another.
But one man whose level has never dipped, despite all the struggles this year, is Neves.
Sure, there has been the odd game where he hasn’t been able to make an impact. Given how poorly Wolves have played in some games this year, that is to be expected.
But by and large, Neves has stood out for Wanderers.
He never, ever hides, and does everything in his power to help Wolves try and win football matches.
At times, it has felt as though he’s the only one at the races. Especially this season.
And that has been very admirable, because many expected Neves to depart in the summer. Even he himself expected to move.
He didn’t get a move. But his professionalism and commitment have been outstanding. He seems to have absolutely relished taking the captain’s armband from Conor Coady.
Ruben Neves is Wolves’ best player of 2022, and everyone else must follow his example
There can be no other candidate really for best Wolves player of 2022.
Jose Sa deserves a mention for his exploits in the second half of the 2021/22 season. And Maximilian Kilman also enjoyed a fairly strong calendar year.
But neither of those two players have been as consistent as Neves in the middle of the park.
He is just so impact for Wolves in terms of being able to get on the ball and pick passes from those deep midfield positions.
But it isn’t just his passing that is so good. Neves has also seriously improved the defensive side of his game, especially this season.
His ability to make tackles and interceptions just make him a more complete player.
Many Wolves fans are realistic about Neves and his situation. It would be a major surprise if he stayed at the club beyond the summer of 2023.
Many will still cling on to a bit of hope that he will extend his contract at Molineux. But he would undoubtedly go with everyone’s blessing if that’s not to be the case.