It looks like Wolves’ first signing of the summer will be Jelle Van Damme from Anderlecht. He’ll cost around £2.5 million and although described as a utility player, left-back is his preferred position and that is one that we need to fill.
So a good bit of business if Jez pulls it off? . . .
I think so because it addresses one of the problem areas that Mick McCarthy has with his current squad.
Problem area: Left back
Why: Stephen Ward is competent and we all love to see his full-blooded tackles and runs down the flank. George Elokobi improved no-end at the back end of the season. Both of them are valuable to the squad but if we want to improve our defence, this is the position that needs strengthening.
The answer: Jelle looks like he fits the bill. Six foot four, good in the air and with an impressive goal record for the Belgian club (17 in 110). If he can fit in to the team then £2.5 million would be a bargain. I know we’re keen to sign players with Premier League experience but with this position it is less important. Fulham have been scouting him so I hope this gets sewn up fast.
Problem area: Wing
Why: Jarvis was excellent on the left this season. If Kightly comes back from injury then he will be like a new signing too. But what his absence showed us was that we didn’t have anyone else for the job. Kevin Foley stepped up to the plate but he is a defender. We need someone that can rampage forward and get some goals. Mujangi Bia’s loan has been extended for another 12 months and there is Andrew Surman too. But neither were able to force their way in this season, even with the injuries. So what we need is an established Premier League performer who won’t play second fiddle to Jarvis and Kightly but compete with them to start.
The answer: Stephen Hunt. He works like crazy, scores goals and seems to be a popular figure with fans and team mates. We went all out to sign him in January and failed. We should be re-doubling our efforts now because he’ll have a few clubs in for him after Hull’s relegation.
Problem area: Up front
Why: Sylvain Ebanks-Blake failed to make an impact on the Premier League after being a goal machine in the Championship. That meant an over-reliance on Kevin Doyle who did his job magnificently. Even so, we still finished with a woefully small goals tally. I’m still hopeful that SEB will come good in the top flight but we can’t go in to another season without addressing the issue aggressively. That means we need another striker and one with a proven ability to net in the Premier League.
The answer: Kris Boyd has a fabulous record at Rangers and is available on a free but for some reason, Wolves have denied interest in him. Steven Fletcher scored 12 for Burnley this season and consequently has been valued at £7 million – way too much! Dave Kitson is yet to convince at this level so he doesn’t fit the goal guarantee requirements.
I think the answer lies at Fratton Park. I have always thought that Aruna Dindane needs a lot of chances to score. However, he works hard and gets in to the right positions so that he makes enough chances. If we could pick him up for the £4m that has been quoted, he would be a great signing. Apparently some Turkish clubs with European football on offer are his preferred destination though. Perhaps his Pompey strike partner Frederic Piquonne could be persuaded instead. On his day he is up there with the best strikers in the league but sometimes he doesn’t turn up. Maybe a bit of Mick McCarthy motivation would help him out.
Problem area: Adding quality
Why: Outside of the three areas mentioned, we have got a good squad – one that has proved capable of staying in the Premier League. To progress as a club though and cement our position in the top flight, we have to bring in more quality players to compete with the best of what we have already and move on the ones that aren’t quite good enough.
The answer: Jamie O’Hara was Pompey’s best player and is that wonderful combination of creative and combative. He could put pressure on Jones and Guedioura and ensure we had strength going forward from the middle of the park.
At the back, Jody Craddock can’t go on forever and, while I like Stearman, he is young so an experienced centre-back would be useful. Aaron Mokoena and Kamil Zayatte are hardly signings to get pulses racing, but they could be invaluable if we start to leak goals.