Wolverhampton Wanderers finished seventh in the Premier League last season with a squad chock-full of top class internationals, including Mexico’s first-choice centre-forward, Portugal’s number one goalkeeper and Spain’s U21 European Championship-winning captain.
Did we mention Wolves, bankrolled by Chinese billionaires and coached by the masterful Nuno Espirito Santo, are playing European football for the first time in 40 years?
But if you ask George Boateng, they still can’t call themselves the biggest club in the Midlands. Instead, the Dutchman believes that honour goes to Aston Villa.
“We’re Aston Villa. We’re not a small club, we’re a big club in the Midlands - for me still the biggest, but we have to get back to being number one in the area,” said the former Villa midfielder, who is now working with the club’s U18 squad, told AVTV.
“There’s a lot of competition in the area, before it was just Villa but now there is competition.”
Boateng spent three years at the heart of Aston Villa’s midfield two decades ago, making 135 appearances for a club who have won seven English topflight titles and lifted the European Cup back in 1982.
A midfielder who earned four caps for the Dutch national team returned to Villa Park this summer to work with the next generation of claret and blue stars and he believes that ‘exciting times’ are on their way back to the claret and blue quarter of the Midlands.
He may be right. In Wes Edens and Nadeem Sawiris, Villa have two ambitious owners who are more than happy to put their hand in their pockets to drag this fallen giant back to the very top of the English game. Villa spent over £100 million on a busload of new signings over the summer, breaking their transfer record to sign both Wesley Moraes and Tyrone Mings.
But Aston Villa still have a long way to go before they can match Wolves’ achievements over the last few years.
Villa might have a history that Wolves cannot match, particularly in Europe, but right now their gold-clad rivals are the dominant force of Midlands football with exciting young talents heading to Molineux from Lazio, Real Madrid and AC Milan this summer alone.
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