If Wolves aren’t your second team by now then you need to take a long look at yourself.
Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves have made neutrals fall in love with the Molineux club this season but it’s Joao Moutinho who we’re all guilty of turning a blind eye to.
The diminutive metronome has been the covert force behind the remarkable success that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have enjoyed upon their return to the Premier League.
Arriving on these shores in the summer from Monaco for just £5million, Moutinho has made the sort of impact on English football that we all knew he was capable of.
The Portuguese centurion had flirted with Premier League clubs throughout his career and was famously just minutes away from joining Spurs in 2012 but for the window to slam shut.
Had that move to north London materialised, Moutinho would have become Spurs’ club-record signing and who knows how different Andre Villas-Boas’ reign might have turned out.
The sort of impact the 32-year-old is having in the West Midlands cannot be overstated.
Moutinho has not only provided the stellar name that Wolves perhaps shallowly needed to be taken seriously in their rebuild, he’s brought substance too.
As is the case for most creative midfielders approaching the twilight of their career, Moutinho has been deployed deeper than his more familiar attacking midfield berth this season.
That decision by Espirito Santo has been proved an inspired one with the former Sporting man looking more at home than ever at the base of the midfield in a 3-5-2 system.
Moutinho often drops to augment the three centre-backs, collecting the ball from deep and setting traps for the opposition to then spring trademark Wolves counter-attacks.
This was clear to see in the 2-1 win against Man United when the slight magician dominated the centre of the pitch against Paul Pogba and Fred.
His performance against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, a side against who his goal in August secured a statement point for Wolves at Old Trafford, was as complete as they come.
A contender for the worst corner you’ve ever seen blotted his copybook…
Moutinho’s impact has been as much about bringing out the best in those around him than just his own game.
The veteran midfielder would have played a crucial role in the development of his countryman Neves, providing the perfect tonic to the raw parts that still exist in the youngster’s game.
There’s no doubt that for Neves the experience of playing alongside Moutinho, a player he most likely admired during his formative years in Portgual, will make him a far better player in the future.
It’s easy to why Moutinho has become an instant fans’ favourite of the Molineux crowd.
The Portuguese has featured in every Premier League game for Espirito Santo and chipped in with seven assists alongside one goal.
Putting the stats to one side, it’s Moutinho’s desire to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in that has surprised supporters more than anything.
In return for his hard graft, the 32,000 strong Molineux crowd roar about his love of vino, and how he’s “footballing heaven” despite only being 5ft7.
The midfielder’s contract with Wolves runs until 2020 and even at 32 it’s hard not to see him being given the security of a one-year extension this summer.
Moutinho is a gift to the Premier League and one we need to cherish while he’s here.
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