Why Joao Moutinho could still bring magic touch to Wolves

He is one of the best players to grace the old gold in decades, but it is unclear what kind of role Joao Moutinho will have next season.

Portugal great Joao Moutinho has been superb for Wolves in the Premier League but had an indifferent season last term (AMA)
Portugal great Joao Moutinho has been superb for Wolves in the Premier League but had an indifferent season last term (AMA)

Will the 34-year-old remain a regular starter as he enters the final year of his Wolves contract?

Will the Portuguese be used more sparingly under new boss Bruno Lage, and would he be happy to do that?

Or will he end up elsewhere by the end of this transfer window?

The future of Ruben Neves has been a subject of widespread discussion over the past few weeks with Arsenal believed to be interested – although nothing concrete has happened yet on that front.

Quite rightly, many have shared their thoughts on how to get the best out of Neves in the event he does stay.

Most seem to be of the thinking that an energetic, box-to-box type would give the 24-year-old greater creative licence.

And if he does go, there is definitely an onus on snapping up someone with a wide passing range and eye for goal, too.

But what about Moutinho?

His situation has largely gone under the radar thus far, but it is arguably just as pressing.

There is a decision to be made and, for this writer at least, he can still be key for Wolves next season.

Moments of magic from Moutinho, of course, were in short supply last term.

He only came up with one assist in the Premier League and performances on the whole were below the level we had seen in previous years.

But he can still be a vital player – in the right moments.

Bruno Lage has come big calls to make (Photo: Wolves)

Not everyone may agree, but the big problem for him, in an underwhelming 20/21 for Wolves on the whole, seemed to be fatigue.

While the enthusiasm was there and he still covered plenty of ground, that extra sharpness was lacking and could very much be put down to the enormous amount of matches he has played since arriving in Wolverhampton.

In 2018/19, he featured in all 38 top-flight games.

Moutinho then did the same in 19/20 while also playing part in a huge, year-long Europa League adventure.

Factoring in his Portugal games, he played the most football of anyone on the continent that season before going into the campaign just gone – without a proper summer break because of Covid-19 – and playing another 33 times in the league.

As we speak, Moutinho is away with Portugal at the Euros.

All signs point towards him being used more efficiently moving forward, and being more effective as a result.

Some may argue Moutinho’s peak years are behind him, and they would be right.

Others may also point out that he is among the club’s top earners.

But his experience, with a new manager coming in and aiming to get his style of play across, could be invaluable.

The squad needs a refresh, make no mistake, but if Moutinho is happy to stay, he should be kept around.

His eye for a pass is immaculate, as is his ability to get out of the tightest of spaces.

While his contributions last season were fairly mediocre, he remains one of the most gifted footballers Molineux has ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

Not everything in football has a fairytale ending, but just imagine Moutinho sprinkling his magic in front of a full home crowd.

With the right amount of support, he can do it.

A new era is set to get under way at Wolves, that is for sure.

Once the Euros are done and dusted, a very busy window is expected and, naturally, there will be comings and goings along the way.

However, it would be lovely to see the oldest player in the squad stick around and, hopefully, provide that spark.

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