Looking back to when Wolves shocked the Championship with mega-money deal

This article is part of Football League World’s ‘EFL Archives’ series, where we look back on a key moment in the EFL’s history, assess what happened and what followed…

Wolverhampton Wanderers have enjoyed a remarkable rise in the past few years under the guidance of Nuno Espirito Santo, with the boss taking them from the Championship to the quarter-final of the Europa League.

Whilst he has done a fantastic job at Molineux, serious backing from owners Fosun International combined with a relationship with agent Jorge Mendes have allowed Wolves to make signings that ensured the footballing world took notice.

Even though it was a real coup to bring Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa to the club, there’s no denying the major deal that proved just how serious Wolves were was the arrival of Ruben Neves from Porto for a then league and club-record fee of £15.8m.

Here we look at that transfer for our FLW Archives

Ruben Neves joins Wolves

This was no ordinary transfer for a Championship club. As mentioned, it was the biggest fee a team had ever paid at the time and the significant outlay was justified because Neves had already been capped by Portugal twice, played almost 100 times for Porto and was the youngest ever player to captain a Champions League side.

So, there was a massive expectancy surrounding the deal and there was a sense of intrigue of how he would cope.

Despite the positivity at Molineux, many outsiders did question the deal and more than one or two memorably suggested Neves, along with several other Portuguese recruits that summer, may struggle to adapt to demands of English football.

What followed?

In short, Wolves were promoted as champions and Neves was magnificent as he scooped the major individual awards for the club.

He quickly showed his talent as he scored a brilliant long-range effort at Hull in this third game and it became apparent quickly that he was the star player in the league, controlling games from the middle of the park.

Neves was renowned for his long-range shooting and he hit six that season, including one of Wolves’ best ever goals with a ridiculous volley against Derby County.

The deep-lying midfielder has been an integral part of Wolves’ journey and is key for Santo in the Premier League as the team chase a third consecutive top seven finish this season.

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