Jeff Shi’s mantra at Wolves has been to recruit players while they’re young in order to develop them for the future.
Very few new faces are welcomed to Molineux as the finished article. Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Willian Jose spring to mind when you consider their elder signings, but the general rule of thumb has been to invest in players with a vibrant potential ahead of them.
Some of their summer signings typified that. Wolves spent £35.6m on Fabio Silva in the hope that he comes good in a few years time while the likes of Rayan Ait-Nouri and Ki-Jana Hoever were further evidence of Shi’s desire to bring in young players.
Though, one addition from 2019 is yet to get much attention. That happens to be Hugo Bueno.
The 18-year-old signed from a tiny Spanish team called Arcosa after being recommended to Wolves scouts by observers on the continent.
It was a life-changing moment for the teenager who is now remarkably on the cusp of first-team soccer. He appeared on the bench when the Old Gold tasted defeat to Crystal Palace at the back end of last month, and judging by Wolves’ injury list, he should be unshackled by Nuno Santo.
The Molineux outfit are currently missing Rayan-Ait Nouri and Jonny in a left-wing back position while Marcal has also been out injured.
However, Nuno can ease the burden of those injuries by preparing Bueno for first-team action. After all, he seems to fit the bill of what Wolves want. Speaking in an interview with Marca (via Sport Witness) last year, the defender stated: “It was in January 2019. They liked me (Wolves scouts) a lot in the match they saw me, and they offered me to go there for a week to play with the under-18s.”
Bueno continued: “I accepted, of course. I played with the two friends. They told me that I was a perfect fit, but that they wanted me to come back, to be seen by more coaches.”
Nearly two years on and it’s difficult to argue with the assessment of the club’s scouts. He has been a key part of Wolves’ U23 side this term, playing 13 times in Premier League 2.
He has featured at left-back and further forward on the left of midfield while two assists certainly demonstrate that Bueno is someone who loves to get forward.
Possessed with plenty of energy, the Wolves website describes the teenager a “flying wing-back” and that’s exactly the type of thing the senior side are looking for right now.
Critically, though, is that he is composed in defence. He has made 1.5 tackles per game in the EFL Trophy this season against senior opposition while uring a 2-2 draw with Liverpool U23s in January last year, he dealt capably with one of their brightest young players.
Birmingham Live reporter Alex Dicken noted at full-time: “He was tasked with marking Harvey Elliot, who has drawn enviable comparisons to some of the game’s greats this season, but acquitted himself well.”
With a plethora of defensive injuries, it’s certainly not unreasonable to suggest Bueno could earn his senior debut soon. With that in mind, he must be readied for the physical battles ahead.
AND in other news, Nuno must unleash rarely-seen Wolves flop next term, Jota called him a “good signing”…