Rising stock: Wolves’ enigmatic bargain has gone from zero-to-hero under Nuno – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

Wolverhampton Wanderers progressed into the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday evening despite seeing a victory snatched from their grasp.

Nuno Santo’s side drew 3-3 with Portuguese outfit SC Braga, but they went into the break two goals to the good – Raul Jimenez’s 13th-minute header cancelled out the home side’s early opener before Matt Doherty and Adama Traore scored in quick succession.

The performance of the enigmatic wide man was nothing short of exceptional as he continues to prove that he can do it on the biggest stage.

And not for the first time this season has he stood out amongst others in this Wolves squad, who themselves look to go one better than last season’s emphatic seven-placed finish.

Traore cost the club £18m back in the summer of 2018 from Middlesbrough and ever since then he has split opinion amongst sections of the Molineux crowd.

The 23-year-old was blasted as a ‘waste of money’ at the tail end of last season while his criticism took on a dumbfounded level after he was slammed for forgetting his passport early in their Europa League qualification campaign this term.

Now look at him. He’s tearing up this very competition each matchday, proving to actually be quite the bargain.

Against Braga – per SofaScore – Traore recorded the joint-most amount of successful take-ons of any player in the competition this year. He also had two shots at goal, registered one key pass and got himself on the scoresheet.

The Spaniard now has three goals and six assists in all competitions, becoming one of the first names on Nuno’s teamsheet having played 22 matches.

Who’d have thought that after he was slammed for his ‘lack of end product’ by BBC and SkySports pundit Danny Higginbotham earlier this year.

Those remarks are starting to look sillier by the game.

This monumental turnaround has no doubt been down to the stewardship of his Portuguese boss, but if Traore keeps it up, they’ll have to watch over their shoulder as his stock continues to rise up rapidly.

You only have to look at Nuno’s links to Arsenal to see what could possibly come in the near future.

Meanwhile, Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell has had to defend Jorge Mendes’ involvement at the club this week…

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