While Manchester City were celebrating their domestic treble after winning the FA Cup, in the Midlands there was another cause for happiness.
With City already guaranteed a place in Europe through winning the Premier League, their Europa League spot has been passed onto the team finishing seventh – Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 2018/19 season was a remarkable one for Wolves, who had only just been promoted from the Championship. Led by Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves were fully deserving of being dubbed the ‘best of the rest’ having caused the top six teams so many problems across the season.
But there is another man who should get some credit for Wolves’ success this season: Jorge Mendes.
The Portuguese super agent has been working as an unofficial adviser to Wolves since Espirito Santo – one of Mendes’ many clients – took charge.
This saw Wolves return to the Premier League with a bang last summer, signing the likes of Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota – all Mendes’ clients. The trio joined Ruben Neves, Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro as Mendes clients already at the club.
And now, with a Europa League campaign to prepare for – and the desire to avoid an early exit like Burnley last summer – Wolves may need Mendes to work his magic once more.
So, who else could Mendes bring to Molineux this summer to prepare for the European tour?
Current club: Sevilla (on loan from AC Milan)
Wolves have a very capable goal-scoring forward in Raul Jimenez, having recently wrapped up the Mexican on a permanent deal. But the club should not rest on its laurels, especially with the Europa League to prepare for.
Andre Silva has spent the season on loan at Sevilla from AC Milan in a deal which gave the Spanish side an option to buy. But they look unlikely to take up that option amid reports of a falling out between the player and the club’s board, leaving AC Milan with a forward they don’t want.
And this is where Wolves come in. The Portuguese scored 11 goals in 40 games for Sevilla this season, nine of which came in La Liga. While this is certainly not the form of a leading striker, Silva can prove a good back up for Jimenez to help should Wolves advance in the Europa League. Silva also has 15 goals in 33 caps for Portugal and has proven to be a great partner for Cristiano Ronaldo in the past, showing just how good he can be.
There are certainly better strikers out there but with Mendes involved, Wolves could get a good deal and turn Silva’s career around.
Current club: Bayern Munich
Position: Central midfielder
Renato Sanches has previously tried and failed to break into the Premier League, after a disastrous loan spell with Swansea City. But a year on and the Portuguese midfielder looks ready to try again.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a slightly better season with Bayern Munich as they won another Bundesliga title, playing 17 times in the league – although 13 of those were substitute appearances.
That shouldn’t count against the Portuguese midfielder, given the stacks of talent in Bayern’s ranks, but it seems to have Sanches ready for a move away.
Wolves’ midfield have been really good this season, but with Leander Dendoncker’s loan move up and the Belgian’s future not really known by those outside the club, Sanches could work as part of many shrewd moves to bolster the squad.
Current club: Everton (on loan from Barcelona)
Position: Central midfielder
Another midfield Mendes man Wolves could look to bolster their squad with this summer is Barcelona’s Andre Gomes.
The 25-year-old has enjoyed an impressive season in the Premier League on loan with Everton and has been tipped to stay in England with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur interested.
Gomes was key at the heart of Everton’s midfield, becoming the base of much of the Toffee’s attacking plays, sitting deep alongside Idrissa Gueye and linking up well with Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Again, a potential replacement for Dendoncker, Gomes could really transform Wolves’ midfield and build a solid wall alongside Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves.
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Current club: Benfica
Another position Wolves need help in if they are to compete in the Europa League is at centre-back. Currently, Wolves have three centre-backs in Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett – all used constantly in a back three – which just won’t do with the added fixtures.
If building for the future is something Wolves want to do, then it could be worth Espirito Santo looking toward Ruben Dias, the 22-year-old Benfica centre-back.
Dias was a rock in defence for the Portuguese side as they wrapped up the league title, missing just two games. The 22-year-old is very comfortable on the ball and in the air, winning 3.2 aerial duels per 90 minutes in the Liga NOS this season.
But Wolves may be put off by the transfer fee, with Benfica reportedly looking at £52m for the centre-back who has also been linked with Manchester United and Atletico Madrid.
Current club: Lazio
Another centre-back Wolves could look to among Mendes’ clientele is Lazio’s Wallace. The 24-year-old has been on the fringes for the Biancocelesti this season, starting just 14 Serie A games, and could be on the lookout for a move away as he enters a key part of his career.
Wallace has previously been linked with a move to Wolves, most recently in the 2019 transfer window, and it could be something the Premier League club return to in the summer.
Current club: Benfica
Position: Attacking midfielder
When Joao Felix’s name is mentioned, the mind automatically goes to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid who have all been linked with the highly-rated teenager.
Rated at a staggering £105m, Felix has scored 20 goals and recorded eight assists in 43 appearances for Benfica this season and is already being tipped to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo at international level.
But now the biggest task for Felix is to prove himself worthy of the high praise he receives going into his second full season as a senior footballer. And what better place to prove it than by helping Wolves show their success was not just a fluke, rather a sign of things to come.
It may only be a stepping stone but if Wolves pull this off, it could just be the best business the club has ever done.