Pedro Neto’s electric form to start the new season has been a huge boost for a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that endured a summer of turmoil that was headlined by Julen Lopetegui leaving just before the opener.
Now fully fit and firing on all cylinders after an injury ravaged 2022/2023 campaign, the Portuguese magician has been an absolute nightmare to contain on his way to leading the assists charts alongside Mohamed Salah, James Maddison and Kieran Trippier on four.
“He has been absolutely incredible for the six or seven weeks I have been here,” manager Gary O’Neil said. “I am really pleased with where Pedro is at. He has given absolutely everything and showed a big moment of quality [at Luton] which sums up how he has been for me for the last six weeks. He has fully bought into everything we have asked.
“His work rate, the way he trains, playing within the shape and structure and taking information on board. He is incredibly talented and physically very gifted as well.”
Such a devastating asset on the dribble, defenders have struggled mightily when he’s given time and space. Able to beat and outfox foes in a multiplicity of ways using his whirring speed, wicked acceleration, fleet feet, agility to go in all directions, slick shimmies and feints and using some crafty hesitation moves, he’s certainly been a torrid adversary to combat.
Playing with tremendous confidence and flair, the superbly skilled and balanced maestro is nigh on impossible to stop in this form, with his ball mastery an integral aspect towards his success.
The explosive and powerful livewire has also been a major creative force for O’Neil’s men, for his incisive passing has elevated his value handsomely. Proving to be one of the most effective players in this regard so far this term, it’s been a joy to watch him weaving his magic courtesy of his precise crossing, through balls, line breaking passes and tidy combination play.
The examples below illustrate his playmaking aptitude, which can be an unheralded compartment of his game, with his silver service, in alliance with his teammates’ classy finishing, ensuring Wolves have been solid going forward.
A handy finisher and a man that doesn’t hesitate when in range, plus is especially dangerous when cutting infield, the Portuguese international, who can score with power, finesse or placement, holds his own here despite his opportunities being somewhat limited in this Wolves outfit.
His crafty movement adds to his menace, unpredictability and difficulty to stop, with him mixing things up shrewdly by venturing infield to complement when he stays wide to be isolated 1v1 and stretch opponents.
Neto’s intelligently timed and directed runs in behind and into the final third have been key for him as well, with his speed, ability to target gaps between defenders and awareness to exploit the blindside of defenders to maximise his dynamic advantage proving so vital.
An immense threat in transition as well, where he relishes the freedom to charge at backpedalling, disorganised backlines, it’s little wonder defenders hate this kind of scenario against him.
By the numbers on top of leading the way for assists, the fact he ranks second for total crosses, equal third for total progressive runs, fourth for total dribbles, ninth for crosses p90, 11th for crossing accuracy, 11th for progressive runs p90 and 12th for dribbles p90 illustrates his fast start to the crusade.
Given everyone an empathic reminder of just what a supremely talented football he is, all associated with Wolves and Neto himself will be desperately hoping he can remain healthy after all his injury torment.
“He’s really got his head down this season, he’s working hard,” insisted Wolves’ skipper Max Kilman. “You can see a big impact from him — he’s vital for us, we just have to keep giving him the ball. He’s a very good lad, very humble and wants to work hard, he needs to keep progressing, keep building. What a player he could become. We’re very pleased for him.”
Back at a level resembling his best, powering Wolves up the table and filling the fans with excitement, it’s been so good to see Neto strutting his stuff.
With the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool circling, preparing potentially to make a move for him in January, Wolves will be hoping he can keep up his level until then and ensure they rack up a nice points tally before then, for that might be the last they see of him in their iconic gold shirt.
All that talk will have to wait for now, though, as just being back out there is a massive source of satisfaction for the enormously talented Neto after all he’s been through.