When Wolverhampton Wanderers opted to sell Diogo Jota to Premier League rivals Liverpool for an initial £41m transfer fee prior to the start of this season, his departure left a forward-shaped void that needed filling.
Instead of outsourcing Jota’s alternative, his replacement came from within in the shape of Daniel Podence. Purchased at the beginning of the year, it took the 25-year-old some time to adapt to life at Molineux, however this season we’re seeing the best of the Portuguese international.
Ahead of him being added to Football Index, here’s a look at his career so far and why he might just be the next great addition to your Portfolio:
Journey to Wolves
Hailing from Oeiras, Portugal, it’s perhaps no surpirse to see him end up at Wolves given their recruitment drive in recent seasons, but it wasn’t a straightforward move from Portuguese capital to the Midlands.
A product of the famous Sporting CP academy – that has produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Nani and Joao Moutinho – Podence rose through the Leões’ academy ranks, making his debut for the club in 2014.
However, after limited opportunities at Sporting – which included a loan spell at Moreirense and helping them win their first-ever trophy – he left for Greece to join Olympiakos, making quite the impression as a result.
He netted 13 goals in 68 games for the Greek giants, including one against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League during an 18-month spell.
His performances didn’t go unnoticed, with Wolves, who in the midst of their famous Europa League campaign in 2019/20, opted to part with £16.6m for his services, citing qualification for the Champions League as one of his targets.
Ambitious, yes, but Podence is helping temper that ambition with the realism that it now deserves.
Style of Play
Having played the majority of his career as a right winger, Podence has often found himself playing on the left for Wolves such is his positional flexibility, as well as popping up in more central positions on the odd occasion.
Slight in stature and fleet of foot, Podence represents real problem for opposing full-backs, with the skill and close control to operate in tight spaces, while possessing the pace to get in behind the backline and stretch the pitch in the process.
When in the final third, we’ve seen on a few occasions this season that he has the composure to deliver, whether that be a cross, assist or goal, with his last two goals for the club a perfect example of this.
Coming in for the round after Pedro Neto‘s initial shot was saved by Bernd Leno, Podence had the clarity of thought to impudently lift the ball over Gabriel, who had dived in, before calmly finishing to seal a 2-1 win over Arsenal.
More recently, he got Wolves back into the game against Chelsea with an equaliser – a game they went on to win 2-1 – as twisted and turned inside the area to engineer some space to shoot, doing just that with an excellent finish beyond Edouard Mendy.
Comparisons have been made with Premier League great Eden Hazard, and it’s easy to see why in terms of both their build, as well as how they play with and without the ball. That’s not to see he’ll hit the lofty standards the Belgian set during his time in England, but there’s certainly enough talent for Nuno Espirito Santo to work with to make him one of the league’s best wingers.
His Season so Far
Podence’s 20/21 campaign got off to a great start, providing an assist in each of his first two Premier League games of the season against Sheffield United and Manchester City respectively.
He had to wait until the sixth league game of the season before scoring his first goal of the season, a routine finish inside the six-yard box, before the two aforementioned goals against Arsenal and Chelsea in his last four games.
Only Pedro Neto has more goal involvements for Wolves this season (4 goals, 3 assists) than Podence, while only Neto has made more key passes (11) than his compatriot (7), having played a game more.
Having featured in 12 of Wolves’ 13 Premier League games so far this season, Podence is likely to play the majority of their league fixtures between now and the end of the season – barring injury – especially with no return date for Raul Jimenez following his sickening head injury in the 2-1 win over Arsenal.
After playing 59 games last season due to their run to the Europa League quarter-finals, that began in the second round of qualifying, this season will be significantly shorter with no European commitments, which could hand Wolves a major advantage in their pursuit of a sealing a European place next season, be that the Champions League and Europa League.
There’s then the small matter of the rescheduled European Championships this summer. Competition for places in the Portugal squad, especially the forward positions, is fiercely competitive, but a maintenance of the form he’s displayed this season could see him named as part of Fernando Santos’ 23-man squad.
His move to Wolves resulted in a first cap for the senior team in October – his only cap to date – but more could follow in the buildup to the competition for the defending champions, with him being a solid player to have in the squad.
Why He Will Perform Well on Football Index
Podence is simply a player that is only going to get better at Wolves. The moments of brilliance he shows every other game will become a more regular occurrence, seeing him there or thereabouts when it comes to the Match Day Rankings, especially with games spread out over a series of games as they are currently.
Then there’s the small matter of a possible move away in the future. Wolves have unearthed and developed some great players in recent times, with Podence the latest player on that list. His performances will surely not go unnoticed from gazes of the proverbial ‘bigger clubs’ in the Premier League and across Europe, with their pull perhaps too strong to see him stay at Molineux.
For now at least, Podence remains a Wolves player, one of their best attacking talents, and now, a player worth considering for your Football Index Portfolio.