New manager Bruno Lage is desperate to strengthen Wolverhampton Wanderers’ troublesome backline following a Premier League season beset by individual errors, as reported by The Athletic.
The numbers tell their own story.
In 2020/21, as Wolves finished a disappointing 13th, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side conceded 52 goals – 12 more than the season before.
While Wolves’ problems at the other end of the pitch have often been blamed on the departure of Diogo Jota, plus the injury-enforced absences of Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence, there is no excuse for the collapse of a backline largely unchanged over the last few years.
The usually reliable Conor Coady and Willy Boly were a shadow of their once irrepressible selves, while even Rui Patricio made the odd howler.
It should be no surprise, then, to learn that Lage has already pledged to make big improvements in one key area.
According to The Athletic, the 2019 Primeira Liga winner has been struck by Wolves’ penchant to concede from set-pieces, while acknowledging that their ‘duel success rate’ is nowhere near what it should be.
Is this why Wolves want Joao Palhinha and Jose Sa?
That partly explains why Yerson Mosquera, a 6ft 2ins centre-back renowned for his aggressive defending and physical prowess, became the first signing of the Lage era this week, completing an initial £4.5 million move from Colombian outfit Atletico Nacional.
Jose Sa, the Olympiakos goalkeeper, is also expected to arrive as a replacement for the wantaway Patricio.
Standing at 6ft 4ins, Sa is impressive when it comes to commanding his penalty area and should therefore be an astute addition to a side who conceded 13 set-piece goals last term.
A midfielder rather than a centre-half, Palhinha would provide a sheet of steel in front of a vulnerable backline, having averaged 3.3 successful tackles per game during Sporting Lisbon’s Primeira Liga-winning campaign.
At 6ft 3ins, Palhinha would also add valuable height to a team too often beaten in the air.