Over the last couple of hours/days, Wolves’ interest in Daniel Podence has gone from strength to strength, with the latest news being that the Midlands club are ‘close’ to securing a deal with Olympiakos for the 24-year-old attacker. Aaron Barton for Próxima Jornada takes a closer look at Daniel Podence and what Wolves fans be getting, does he sign for Nuno’s side.
Born in Oeiras, a Lisbon municipality and just west of Portugal’s capital city, Daniel Podence has a football education rooted in Lisbon, playing briefly for a Belenenses youth side before transferring to Lisbon giants Sporting CP where he continued his footballing development in the famed Alcochete academy. He rose through the ranks before being promoted to the first-team. He was given his senior debut by Marco Silva in the Taça de Portugal in a 5-0 win over Espinho.
He was loaned out to fellow Primeira Liga side Moreirense and it was there that he made his Liga debut. He made just 18 appearances in all competitions for Moreirense but still managed to make an impact, scoring 4 and assisting 3 from wide midfield. It was at Moreirense where he first tasted silverware, becoming more and more influential for his loan club as they progressed through the Taça da Liga, he started and played 90 minutes in the semi-final, providing an assist as they knocked out Benfica, defeating the Lisbon side 3-1. He followed up his semi-final performance by again playing 90 minutes, this time as his side beat Braga and claimed their first and only major honour.Embed from Getty Images
His form at Moreirense led to his recall, Jorge Jesus opting to bring the then 21-year-old back to the Alvalade in January 2017. His return to Sporting was a mixed bag, he showed flashes of excellence during his time but was still very much a raw and unpolished talent. He managed just 986 minutes of football for Sporting during the 15/16 and 16/17 seasons, the equivalent of just under 11 full matches. His time at Sporting came to an end after the infamous training ground attack at Alcochete at the hands of angry supporters, he rescinded his contract citing just cause on June 1st 2018.Embed from Getty Images
Olympiakos was his next suitor, joining on July 8th 2018 and is the club at which he has played the most top-flight games, he is currently sitting on 68 appearances for the Greek giants.
What type of player is he?
He is naturally a winger and is adept on either the left or right and those are the position’s he takes up in the majority of his matches, however during his time in Greece, we have seen Podence demonstrate his versatility, operating as a left-winger, right-winger, second-striker and at times an attacking midfielder.
First and foremost he is a creator, during his career both in Greece and his native Portugal, Podence tends to finish the season with more assists than goals and it is this ability to create play and assist goals that is the primary reason he is selected for the team. His eye for a key pass can change games, often demonstrating great vision especially when providing incisive through balls.
Olympiakos often play a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system which sees fluidity between the 3 attackers behind the central striker or sees the two wide-men go narrower and join up with the central striker. Operating on the left side of this front 3, he can cut inside on his favoured right foot and look to play in the striker with a through ball or switch the play over to the right. He is a winger in the modern mould, particularly when he is on the left-hand side as he will more often than not opt to cut inside rather than take the ball down the left and put in a cross with his weaker foot. According to TransferMarkt, Podence has had a fairly even positional split so far this season, playing 7 games as a left-sided forward/left-winger and 8 games on the right hand side.
Whilst it is cautionary to judge a player based off YouTube, I have attached a video of Podence in action for Olympiakos which further highlights his dribbling style and his dynamic attributes.
At just 165cm in height (5 foot 4 inches) and weighing just 9 stone, Podence is very slight. This comes with its obvious advantages and disadvantages and may represent an issue in the Premier League, although as we have seen recently in the form of countryman Bernardo Silva, a small stature and build often comes with a low-centre of gravity and a natural deftness that cannot be taught.
So far this season, Podence has played 14 Super League games, completing 90 minutes on 8 occasions, assisting 4 and scoring 3. Overall, he has played 68 games in all competitions for Olympiacos during his time in Greece, providing 13 goals and 14 assists, solid numbers.
Joining up with Wolves with would be an excellent move for Podence and a chance to showcase his talent in one of the best leagues in the world. Joining Wolves would allow him to meet up with the strong Portuguese contingent on the Midlands, and play under Nuno Esperito Santo, a manager he is yet to work under. Nuno famously likes his squads small and unified, this would present plenty of playing opportunity for him and allow him to build a case for a starting position, similarly to the way Pedro Neto has staked his own claim in the absence of Diogo Jota.
Whether or not he joins Wolves, we will have to wait and see but, in my opinion it is a move that would make sense and I for one would love to see him in England and at still just 24, he has a lot of room to grow and a lot more to give.