Wolves‘ new addition Joao Gomes has quickly won over fans at Molineux after his transfer saga in January and winning goal against Southampton recently but Julen Lopetegui may have a more natural heir to Ruben Neves in academy graduate Luke Cundle.

Could Luke Cundle be the next Neves at Molineux?

In a disappointing season for Wolves, Neves has once again been the standout for the Old Gold, with WhoScored ranking him comfortably as the top performer at Molineux so far this season, of those to make at least five appearances in the Premier League.

After he came close to leaving last summer, an exit for a side playing European football looks likely for the former Porto man at the end of the current campaign, and with Joao Moutinho approaching 37, it seems clear that a new midfield partnership will be required next season.

Youngsters such as Boubacar Traore and Gomes have arrived at the club, with the latter arriving with a big reputation after his performances for Flamengo in Brazil, with football talent scout Jacek Kulig full of praise for him in 2021 on Twitter.

He wrote: “João Gomes is such a unique player. Fantastic mix of midfield destroyer, deep-lying playmaker and box-to-box midfielder. Tireless runner, amazing work rate and tenacity mixed with really good technique and playmaking skills. He always gives 100% on the pitch. Warrior.”

However, if Lopetegui is looking for a natural replacement for Neves, with an excellent passing range and footballing brain, then Cundle could be the ideal man.

The 20-year-old Englishman has already made seven appearances for the first team and has spent this season on loan with Swansea City in the Championship, contributing one goal and two assists in 22 appearances for Russell Martin’s side.

How is Cundle similar to Wolves captain Neves?

Lopetegui will have held regular conversations with Wolves academy coaches Steve Davis and James Collins during his spell at Molineux, as is evidenced by the progression of Joe Hodge and Dexter Lembikisa into the first team under the Spaniard.

Collins is certainly a fan of Cundle and may well encourage Lopetegui to look at the academy graduate in pre-season, should he lose two Portuguese maestros from his squad.

On the young midfielder, Collins said:

“Cundle scored a brilliant goal. I thought he was magnificent all night, showed his quality tonight and ran the game.

“I was delighted to have him back because he’s ready for that step up. Whether that’s with our first team or whether that’s a loan, because watching him out there, I thought he was magnificent.

“He’s got an outstanding brain and drives the game, he runs the game and dictates it which is a great skill. He’s intelligent, makes good decisions, can attack and defend and when you first see him, you wonder whether he could be a Premier League player because he’s slight and small.”

While Cundle lacks Premier League experience, he certainly boasts a similar skill set to Neves, a player with an immense passing range and tireless attitude, and if he can step up and dictate games for Wolves in the future, the Old Gold could save themselves a fortune, rather than trying to sign a replacement for the Portugal international.


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