Neto’s improvement has given Wolves hope of avoiding relegation


Wolves appeared doomed before the 2023/24 Premier League had even started. Julen Lopetegui’s sacking days before the start of the campaign hinted at a club in bad shape, but the reality hasn’t been as bad. Much of that has been down to the sparkling form of Pedro Neto.

Few attacking players in the Premier League have been as consistent as Neto over the early part of the season. The 23-year-old has registered one goal and five assists in just eight appearances with Neto particularly eye-catching in Wolves’ shock victory over last season’s Treble winners, Manchester City.

Neto’s potential has been clear for a long time. He joined Wolves in the 2019 summer transfer window and has made over 100 appearances for the Molineux club in the time since. Inconsistency, however, has been an issue. This has changed this season, though. Neto has been a reliable difference-maker. His form has been sparkling.

With just eight points from their first eight matches, Wolves still face a fight against relegation this season. Burnley, Luton Town and Sheffield might give Gary O’Neill’s team a cushion, with this season’s three promoted teams unconvincing in their performances so far, but few expect Wolves to finish outside of the Premier League’s bottom half.

Nonetheless, Neto’s dramatic improvement could make the difference for a team generally lacking cutting edge in the attacking third. Wolves have attacking talent – see Hwang Hee-chan and Matheus Cunha – but they don’t have a centre forward they can count on for a haul of goals over the course of the season.

O’Neill needed one of his dynamic attackers to step up this season and Neto has managed this. The challenge for Wolves is to provide the Portuguese international with a platform to continue delivering over the full campaign. They need Neto to maintain the level he has set for himself over the first eight matches.

“I didn’t see Pedro up close last season and he’s suffered some injuries, but the upturn in his performances this season has been because he’s fully committed to the work that we’re doing, he’s fully committed to how we’re going to play and fully committed to how it’s going to benefit him,” said O’Neill in a recent interview.

“He’s attacked every training session with 100% commitment and you’re starting to see the benefits. He will be hugely important for us, he’s a fantastic player, hugely talented and he’s working extremely hard without the ball as well as bringing big quality with it, so I’m really pleased with Pedro.”

Last season, Neto was hindered by an ankle injury that sidelined him for five months. Even when the 23-year-old returned to action, he lacked match sharpness. This season, though, Neto has looked sharper than ever. He has become a leader on the pitch for Wolves at a time when they really needed one.

Wolves have already established themselves as a club that can provide a springboard to even bigger and better things for players. Diogo Jota was a star at Molineux before he made the move to Liverpool to become an important member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad there. Matheus Nunes joined Manchester City from Wolves this summer.

Neto could be next to attract the attention of the Premier League’s biggest clubs. His technical ability means he would be able to play at the elite level of the sport with his physicality another impressive element to his game. All this is coming to the fore for Wolves this season. If the Molineux club is to avoid relegation, they will need Neto to keep up his level.

Author: Mark Hayes