In that time the habit for fans to look enviously on to talent on these shores is easy to fall into but the truth is Wolves’ net casts further than the White Cliffs of Dover now-a-days.
The latest big name heavily linked to us, and if reports are true is set to sign in a matter of days, is Porto’s Ruben Neves – and for a club record £15 million. Christ.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, the name Ruben Neves wasn’t on the tip of any Wolves fans’ tongue prior to Friday and yet one of the hottest properties in Europe could be gracing the turf of Molineux in the coming weeks.
Should the Neves deal be accomplished it will be the third time in 12 months Wolves have broken their transfer record but perhaps more telling it will be a signing that has put our club on the radar of Europe’s elite.
Am I exaggerating when I make that claim? Let’s look at the facts.
If tempting Ivan Cavaleiro away from Monaco wasn’t enough to get Europe curious, the acquisition of Helder Costa after he tore apart Liverpool at Anfield certainly was. At the time Costa was seen as investment to later be sold with the likelihood of him staying in Wolverhampton zero at best. Yet Costa who shone in a side flirting with relegation last season is backed to stay at Molineux.
Add to this Nuno Espirito Santo turning down offers from Champions League clubs to coach Wolves and all of a sudden that second-tier football club in England may just be getting the attention of people in high places from abroad.
To pull off a coup in Neves, who is the youngest player to start as captain for his side in the Champions League, is something that will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Europe’s big dogs.
There will be many heads being scratched from Juventus to PSG as to how Wolves could have pulled off one of the deals of the summer. The 20 year old isn’t just a player who was one time linked with the likes of Juventus, PSG, Chelsea and Liverpool, just a matter of days ago he was dead cert to be heading to Stamford Bridge or Anfield.
Wolves have appeared to have stole a march on both heavyweights and caught them on the chin in the process.
‘How can Wolves do this?’, ‘The deal needs investigating!’
There will be cries of FFP like this from all quarters and you won’t have to look far on social media to find opposing fans claiming Wolves are buying the league.
The issue with FFP is that it is purposely designed to be too complex and heavy with legal and financial language for the average football fan to understand.
In a nutshell it’s in such a format so UEFA can say ‘don’t worry about that, trust us, it’s for the benefit of you fans’.
Perhaps the best summary of FFP came from an unlikely source, Man City’s Vincent Kompany.
He was the first high profile footballer to be openly critical of the rules and how Man City – who Wolves will be looking to emulate – are hamstrung as they have to invest to generate more revenue.
Kompany claimed FFP was designed to protect clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, who had already established themselves as revenue machines, but punish the likes of City and PSG who are having to invest to reach such heights.
The Neves deal will take Fosun’s spend with Wolves to £45 million as the owners look to turn Wolves into a force to be reckoned with.
With this strategy don’t expect anyone to be applauding Wolves’ ambition and expect opposing fans to kick and scream and to roll out the green eyed monster – we’re doing something that’s against the norm.
It is why the national press, who panic when a new era threatens their ideology of the English game, will be lying in wait for Fosun’s Wolves strategy to hit the rocks and already thousands of words have been dedicated to Jorge Mendes’ influence. Why? Because it’s different.
The idea that a football agent using his connections and clients to raise the standards of a club is something that: 1, they don’t fully understand and 2, because they don’t understand it that means it’s bad.
Remember it was these same journalists who were against England playing 4-4-2 until Spain wiped the floor with everyone playing 4-5-1, in Fleet Street they fear change.
Of course there are reasons to be cautious.
Neves won’t be joining Wolves for the weather in Wolverhampton or Paul Gladon’s Trip Advisor review of Shifnal Tandoori. He’ll be arriving with a healthy pay packet in waiting and promises of Premier League football.
With such investment it’s natural to shudder when you see what happened with the likes of Leeds, Portsmouth and QPR. But hope fills your heart seeing what investment has brought to Man City, Bournemouth and Swansea.
Regardless, after an indifferent first 12 months under Fosun the signing of Neves could be the first warning shot, home and abroad, that the Wolves are on the march back.