Premier League - The Big Interview - Episode 8Sep 28
A change of system to a back four - facilitating more midfield players - and a big-money signing could be the catalyst for a more exciting year at Molineux.
Crucially, Nunes is particularly adept at carrying the ball through midfield, transitioning quickly from defence to attack. He is a skilled dribbler and a progressive passer, typically looking for a forward pass where possible.
For Wolves, that should mean an increased speed of attack and more time spent with the ball in advanced areas of the pitch. Nunes completed the most dribbles in the Portuguese top flight last season (81) and was in the top 10 for passes completed in the final third (333).
With the control provided by Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, Nunes should add a different dynamic to the midfield, reducing the chance of Lage’s side playing one-dimensional or predictable football.
“I spoke to some of my teammates because I play with them for the national team,” Nunes told Wolves' official website.
“The coach as well, he really wanted me, and I wanted to play in the Premier League. I think it’s the right next step for me and I’m very happy to be here.
“Ruben [Neves], Moutinho, I spoke to all of them and asked them stuff, and they all said great stuff about the club – Sa as well, so I’m glad to be here.”
Nunes’ pedigree is high after links with Liverpool and Manchester City, neither of which materialised into a move. Guardiola’s clear admiration for the midfielder, though, made many people sit up and take notice.
Sporting were beaten 5-0 by City in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie last season but Guardiola still took the time to praise Nunes.
“I would say that Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world today,” he told BT Sport.
Whether or not he will fulfil his obvious potential at Wolves remains to be seen, though previous big-money arrivals at Molineux haven’t always thrived.
Notably, Fabio Silva struggled after joining Wolves for a then club-record £35.6m. The young forward, having been unable to establish himself in the Premier League, is now on loan at Anderlecht, where he has excelled so far this season.
Given time, Silva could still be a success at Wolves, and it may be that patience is also required with Nunes, who will likely face a period of adaptation.
Lage will also hope Nunes’ inclusion in the team mitigates the lack of options up front. Raul Jimenez is currently absent, leaving Hwang Hee-chan as the only man to lead the line.
All eyes will be on the new boy come Saturday lunchtime as Wolves take on a confident Spurs side after a strong start to the season for Antonio Conte and his players.
It will be a challenging first game for Nunes, and you can watch every minute of it from 11.30am (12.30pm KO) on Saturday 20 August, live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate on TV.