Express & Star

Joao Moutinho 'relaxed' over Wolves future

Joao Moutinho claims to be relaxed about his future as talks over a new Wolves contract continue.

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The 35-year-old midfielder has entered the last month of his deal at Molineux and is yet to agree fresh terms, amid interest from Italian giants Roma.

But Moutinho, currently away on international duty with Portugal, insisted his club future will be “worked out in time” as he turns focus to forthcoming Nations League fixtures, starting with tonight’s clash with Spain.

He said: “I’ve always worked the same way, with and without a contract. We had a good season at the club, I’m focused on what I have to do in the national team.

“I’ll do my best to contribute to the success of the national team, it’s the most important thing. The other things will work themselves out in time.”

Moutinho’s fate is one of several to be decided during a transfer window Wolves boss Bruno Lage believes could prove defining for his Molineux reign.

Lage claims a lack of squad depth was a factor in a faltering finish to his first season in charge and wants two or three additions on top of quality replacements for any player who departs.

Goalkeeper John Ruddy and defender Romain Saiss have already confirmed their exits, while there are question marks over the futures of Adama Traore and Ruben Neves along with Moutinho.

Lage said: “If the players go, we need the same quality of players to replace them and we need, in my opinion, two or three more players.

“If it happens next season what happened in these two or three months, we won’t have the players to manage the squad to stay at the same level, so that’s the target for our next window.”

Wolves looked well placed to challenge for European football before falling away in the closing weeks to finish 10th. Lage believes the division will be even more competitive next season due to the investment likely at clubs like Newcastle and Villa but insists he is excited for the task ahead.

He said: “I’m very excited for the next months because they’re going to be very important to define where we want to go.

“The main point now is that — to build the squad that can give us solutions for everything we want. We have our identity, but after, game by game, different solutions, different problems, different dynamics and also different moments of the season.

“As you know, a season is long and we need a squad with balance, quality. Of course, Wolves cannot have 21 top players, but I think we can have a solid 11, 13, 14 good players with experience in the Premier League and also to have chances for kids like Toti (Gomes) or Yerson (Mosquera) or Chiquinho, and kids like Luke (Cundle), in the first team, so that’s the mix of these three things we need to build the next team.”

Defender Dion Sanderson has emerged as a transfer target for both Sunderland and Sheffield United.

The 22-year-old impressed while on loan with the former in League One during the second half of the 2020-21 season and has since had stints at Blues and QPR in the Championship.

Sanderson has three years remaining on his contract and is again likely to leave on loan this summer in order to get more playing time.