Wolves’ new claw: Joao Moutinho
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ capture of wily veteran Joao Moutinho for just £5 million is already looking like one of the bargains of the seasons.
Enticed by the exciting project at the Molineux and the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League, the 32-year-old’s adapted marvelously to the demands of the league.
Having the company of so many of his countrymen, which includes six fellow first-teamers and manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, has obviously helped him settle, but he nonetheless deserves immense credit for the way he’s made such an immediate impact.
Adding vital experience and leadership to Wolves’ squad, the man who’s won a plethora of titles, with his Euro 2016 triumph with Portugal and league titles with FC Porto and AS Monaco most notable, he’s set a brilliant example for his teammates to follow. Oozing composure and quality, he’s been a real calming influence for the ambitious outfit, as his contribution so far has been mightily impressive.
Always keen to impose himself on matches through his mastery with the ball at his feet, Moutinho’s been vital going forward. Possessing a crisp first touch, wondrous ball control and able to wriggle away from trouble comfortably due to his silky skills and maneuverability, the diminutive midfielder has proved a rather elusive proposition for defenses to nullify. Forever surveying his local area, he knows precisely what angle to receive the ball in and where his colleagues are situated, so he can then use his exceptional decision making to select the ideal option depending on the scenario he’s presented with.
While he finds space intelligently to be an outlet, when he does inherit the ball under pressure, he relishes these instances. Indeed, the fact he’s so comfortable on the ball and aware of his surroundings mean he can usually outfox his adversary and pinpoint a teammate in a stronger position to progress the attack.
When it comes to his distribution, the former Sporting star shines just as brightly, for he combines intricately in close quarters to disorganize stopping structures, plays precisely through balls into his forwards, hits raking switches of play and plays a key role in building out from the back. Assured, measured and two-footed, this aspect of his game has been a real standout. Without a doubt, this has duly seen him facilitate, animate and coordinate Wolves’ possession phases with aplomb.
Despite his recognition predominantly coming from his aforementioned offensive characteristics, his defensive work has been of a high level too. Full of discipline and spirit, the tenacious Moutinho has parlayed smart positioning with aggression superbly.
With Wolves often defending in an organised mid-block, Moutinho has kept his shape beautifully when defending zonally, in order to make life challenging to play through the centre of their structure. But when an opponent ventures into his zone of operation, he’ll press them intensely, never letting them turn or have an easy touch. Showing impeccable judgment to execute his mixed marking duties, he’s been very effective at his actions in this phase.
So adept at reading the play, other notable elements to be drawn from his work here come from his shifting to the ball near side, the way he works so hard to get back into shape after he’s pressed, his robustness in his tackling and how he times his pressing to perfection.
A wonderful embodiment of Nuno’s entertaining yet structurally sound strategy, his comments after the recent draw with Manchester United, a game he scored a terrific goal in, illustrate both his and his team’s formidable approach.
“We play our football,” he asserted. “We played against a big team in a big stadium but we deserved it. We know what the coach wants. We need to continue to work like that every week – play our football and do our best.
“We work all week in training to control the match, with or without the ball. We try to do in the game what we train all week for and we’ve been doing it. Sometimes we can’t win but we need to continue with the way we play.”
His impact is being especially felt on Wolves’ young star and fellow countryman, Ruben Neves, who is absolutely relishing playing alongside and learning from the master craftsman, saying: “It’s very good to play with Joao, he’s a very experienced player, very smart, very intelligent and it’s easy to play with him.
“I want to learn with him because he’s a great player. I’ve learned a lot, he’s played in the Champions League and won the European Championship.”
Also, a master at set pieces to boot, Moutinho’s value to this side is without question. Although he wasn’t the highest profile or most expensive signing of the window, he’s certainly been one of the best.
Preview by: licencetoroam.
Joao Moutinho, a skilled veteran midfielder is definitely the one to watch out. Get to see more of this Portuguese star on Wolves’ upcoming Premier League fixtures! Register with VOdds or contact us through Skype to place your football and other sports bets!