Monday, August 15, 2022

Wolves In Wonderland! – Walter Zenga Stuns European Elites With A New Mega Deal

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism. 2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

This is a story about former Inter Milan custodian, and current manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Walter Zenga going down the rabbit hole… On second thoughts, it could as easily be about Walter Zenga and his magic beans going up the beanstalk and into the Premier League – considering that the subject of the matter is a giant. Either way, Wolves fans find themselves in wonderland, and jittery in the joyous certitude that this season may have a fairy-tale finish.

The Portuguese newspaper, Record, come as the bearer of good news, while O Jogo, goes even further to bring you some excellent news. The former states that Benfica legend, 35-year-old Luisao who has unfailingly turned out for 2-time European Champions for an astounding 458 time in his thirteen years at the club, is poised to move after the realisation of the terms that are on offer. The latter states that Brazilain veteran is already on his way to Wolverhampton with his 6’5″ of stratospheric reputation and a suitcase full of experience bagging twenty-one trophies!

The publication state the midland club have offered a bumper deal with an income of €2m per season, for the extent of his new 2-year-long contract – earning considerably more than what he was entitled to in adopted home of Benfica.

O Jogo, in the spirit of one-upmanship over Record, further reports that the said deal was struck overnight in London, facilitated by Benfica head-honcho, Luis Filipe Vieira. The news of Luisao’s departure, the longest-serving skipper in Benfica’s storied history, has spread around Portugal like wildfire, with fans demonstrating against his transfer on social media. Joining ex-Benfica alumni, Silvio, Helder Costa, and Joao Teixeira, the Brazilian behemoth may not be the last that Wolves raids the Portuguese club.

JD, of The 4th Official, takes centre stage to tell you what you might want to know about Wolves’ new stalwart.

Strengths

Challenging against Luisao in the air is as same as contending with a wrecking ball for a header. His telescopic legs often reach out into tackles where more defenders fail to conceive the notion, opting for jockeying instead. Sublime tackler, averages 80% success rate, a figure which is staggering in the modern game. Loves to play on the front, and equally at ease on the backfoot, Luisao, mustering his years of experience can adapt to almost any imaginable defensive situation – something that would suit Wolves to the t. On the front foot, Luisao looks to come out the defence with the ball at his feet, with his long strides, to play the simple pass out or an expansive one down to the flanks (89% passing accuracy), or come and intercept averaging 2.8 per game. However cumbersome they look down to his stature, he is unerringly assured, and will on occasions even took to take on his man provided the situation calls for it – he’s Brazilian after all.

In a situation where the backs may be against the wall, Luisao, who likes to be in the thick of the action (8.7 defensive contributions per game), relishes the rear-guard action, and will frustrate many of the top-tier teams, if Wolves opt to drop deep.

Weaknesses

There are very few weaknesses in his game, considering the years at the top level, most of those that were, have been ironed out. Luisao, a general on the field, however, does have the tendency of looking to do it all on his own – take the game by the scruff of the neck so to speak, which can be mostly good, but sometimes not beneficiary, at times susceptible to be caught on the front foot with ball by an quicksilver forward, or a clever operator in midfield. His pace used to never be a concern, considering the amount of sweeping he’s been used to, relying on his athleticism and his reading of the game. That being said, at 35, he has slowed down by quite a bit and that has affected his otherwise complete centre-back game.

Opportunities

He was built for the English game. Luisao will bolster the Wolves ranks by not only his aura of invincibility and leadership but also the years of collected knowledge of playing the game at the highest levels. The Brazilian will be Zenga’s general on the pitch and be barking instructions to impart a defensive shape of a continental backline – something that’s essential for Zenga’s plans, moving forward.

Threats

Luisao would be coming to England in an attempt to prove himself in the most challenging leagues in the world at the dusk of his career. While it does look unlikely he would be fazed by the physicality of play in the Championship, he would need to be played with a stopper so he can hand back and be the last line of defence, instead of going ahead and being the first man with the first tackle.

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