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Liam Keen comment: Wolves great Joao Moutinho is the gift that keeps on giving

We all owe Joao Moutinho an apology.

Joao Moutinho (Getty)
Joao Moutinho (Getty)

Too many of us wrote him off before the 2021/22 season and, without many facts but plenty of conviction, said his legs were gone.

How wrong we were.

The key word when discussing Moutinho is energy. Somehow, at 35-years-old, the midfielder charges around the pitch with the enthusiasm of a teenager but the experience and nous of a veteran.

Of Wolves’ 38 Premier League games he played 35 and started in 34 of them. He was a constant in Bruno Lage’s side – a team that had a largely successful season despite the poor ending.

It is understandable why so many people wrote Moutinho off after the 2020/21 season. Both him and Ruben Neves looked stale and in need of added impetus.

But both players excelled in Lage’s system and with Moutinho it is clear to see why.

Again, the key word is energy. Lage is trying to build a team that is aggressive, on the front foot and attacks at will.

Although Moutinho will not score 10 goals a season or make incredible bursts into the box, his energy across all of the thirds is infectious.

He deserved better than to be doubted. Someone who has played 145 times for the Portuguese national side and spent almost 20 years at the top level – and is still capable of bouncing back from a poor season to put in a superb shift – is a special player.

Frankly, Moutinho is one of the greatest players to ever pull on a Wolves shirt. The same could be said for some of his team-mates and the diminutive midfielder is certainly among that company.

That is why – after Moutinho signed his new one-year deal to mark his fifth season at Molineux – we are all lucky to have him.

Going into the 2022/23 season it is important not to underestimate Moutinho, but equally the midfield still needs additions – both statements can be true.

Moutinho and Neves have proven that they can play together effectively in Lage’s system, but it is equally fair to say that they could do some with help over the course of a season.

For a number of years Wolves have needed a midfielder who can drift into the final third and form connections with the forwards – particularly Raul Jimenez who looked isolated on plenty of occasions last season.

They need a midfielder with numbers – someone to add goals and assists.

A classic number eight could provide that, and Wolves would benefit from a box-to-box midfielder, but if Neves stays then perhaps someone closer to a number 10 would prove more effective, particularly in the role Leander Dendoncker was shoehorned into in the 3-5-2 formation.

Morgan Gibbs-White could offer that if Wolves keep hold of him, and his versatility to play in the front three or even as a second striker could prove very useful.

Regardless of the solution, it is clear that Wolves need midfield additions.

However – just imagine how much more difficult that task would have been if Moutinho left.

He turns 36 in September but is ageing like a fine wine. His impact in the 2022/23 campaign can be just as impressive or even greater than last year – particularly if that area of the pitch is supplemented.

Moutinho is the gift that keeps on giving and another season of his brilliance is a blessing for all Wolves fans. Signing for just £5million and entering his fifth season at the club – every supporter is lucky to have him and for that he deserves backing come August.

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