The annual summer transfer merry-go-round is well underway as we approach the latter stages of July, and on a positive note for Wolves fans, manager Kenny Jackett has already been active in the transfer market.
This is just as well, as other clubs in the Championship have also been busy strengthening their squads, most notably Derby bringing in real Premier League experience in Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann, whilst QPR added to their attacking firepower with the signings of free agent Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, and the creative Massimo Luongo from Swindon Town.
Jed Wallace arrived from Portsmouth back in May, for an undisclosed fee. After reported interest from other Championship clubs, including Brighton, it is considered a real statement of intent by the club. Wallace, an attacking midfielder, could be seen as the long-term replacement for ‘Dangerous’ Dave Edwards, and notched 17 goals last season on his way to being selected in the League Two PFA Team of the Year.
Wallace was followed to Molineux by defensive midfielder Conor Coady, for a fee believed to be around £2m – perhaps the club were impressed by the stunning, curling effort Coady scored against Wolves whilst playing for Huddersfield back in October of last year. Coady is a product of the Liverpool academy system, and was captain of the Under-21 side, and has played for England from Under-16 level up to the Under-20s.
However, if the club are going to push on from their agonising failure to reach the play-offs, I feel that there are other areas that need strengthening.
Upon the expiry of his short-term contract, experienced Polish goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak left the club for Birmingham City. The back-up goalkeeper position is wide open and, as an unfortunate turn of events will see Aaron McCarey unavailable for four months, I feel Jonathan Flatt and Harry Burgoyne lack the experience required to be understudy to fit again Carl Ikeme.
I think that the ideal candidate to fulfil the role is Finnish goalkeeping legend Jussi Jaaskelainen. The club has a history of signing experienced goalkeepers on free transfers, including Kuszczak, Dorus de Vries and Adriano Basso, and the stopper would be no different. The Bolton legend, who has recently left West Ham and is therefore a free agent at 40, was playing in the Premier League as recently as 2013, and found himself as runner-up for ‘Hammer of the Year’. Jaaskelainen would also be a superb character to have in and around the squad, not only as a mentor for the other goalkeepers at the club, but also for the wealth of young talent at Kenny Jackett’s disposal in other positions.
Another player who followed Tomasz Kuszczak out of the club was Bakary Sako, also on a free transfer. The mercurial Malian winger, who scored 15 goals last season to finish as joint top scorer for the 2014-15 campaign, left after being chosen in the PFA Championship Team of the Year. Whilst Sako should have no problem in finding a new team, Wolves might struggle to replace him.
But one man that I think could fill the left wing position is Michal Zyro. The athletic and skilful Poland international has been capped five times by his country, and is equally adept on either flank. Currently playing for Legia Warsaw, his contract expires in the summer of 2016 and the Polish giants have set an asking price of around £1.5m for his transfer. I feel a pacey, exciting winger of Zyro’s calibre in Sako’s absence is vital, as the counter-attacking ability shown by Sako, Afobe and Dicko (it’s magic, you know) last season nearly propelled Wolves back into the play-offs.
Along with Sam Ricketts, and the previously mentioned Kuszczak and Sako, strikers Leon Clarke, Jake Cassidy and Kevin Doyle have recently left Molineux. They were followed by Liam McAlinden, who has joined Shrewsbury on loan.
As a result, Benik Afobe and Nouha Dicko are the only senior strikers left, leaving cover extremely stretched should either get injured. I think it would be best that the club invest now, rather than have to dip into the loan market during the season, as Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo proved in 2014.
I think that Adam Le Fondre, a striker famed as being a ‘super-sub’, would match Jackett’s style of play perfectly, thanks to tireless work and endless energy. He scored 12 goals for Reading in their 2012-13 Premier League campaign, and most recently scored eight goals in 17 games last season on loan at Bolton from Cardiff. ‘Alf’, as he is often known, is reportedly available for transfer, and I think a player of such quality and Premier League experience would be a welcome addition to the squad.