Wolverhampton Wanderers have a type. And seemingly not content with just Raúl Jiménez, those at Molineux are after another brutish, selfless forward to lead the line.
The Hoffenheim forward enjoyed a fine debut season in the Bundesliga, striking up an understanding with Andrej Kramaric as Julian Nagelsmann finished in ninth position, just three points off a Europa League spot.
The potential was there for Die Kraichgauer to build something. But this summer they’ve already lost Nagelsmann to RB Leipzig while creator-in-chief Kerem Demirbay has joined Bayer Leverkusen. Nico Schulz also made a big-money switch to Borussia Dortmund and Kramaric has been linked with a €50million move to AC Milan.
It may sound strange given Hoffenheim don’t need to sell after raking in a fair amount from player sales but now might be the ideal time to make a move for Joelinton.
The 2019/20 campaign is likely to be a season of transition for the Bundesliga club as they adapt to a new manager and, perhaps, a new system made up of new players. The Brazilian forward might not fancy that.
The project at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena has been dismantled whereas the one at Wolves is only just beginning. A move for Joelinton, as claimed by German outlet SPOX, would ensure Nuno Espírito Santo’s continues to thrive in the Premier League.
Newcastle are also keen, as reported by The Mirror, but, right now, there would be one clear winner. The Magpies lack a project and an identity but they need do need to replace the departed Salomón Rondón and his goals. Yet other than both having a physical presence, Joelinton and the Venezuelan aren’t alike.
Rondon was treated like a backboard for Newcastle attacks last season, the focal point for the team. Joelinton, meanwhile, was the quintessential modern-day No.9 for the Germans; he dropped deep, drifted into wide areas and linked play.
The 22-year-old could do what Rondon did at St James’ Park but it’d be a waste of his talent. Unless the Magpies dramatically change their style, Joelinton would be limited at St James’ Park.
He’d be much better suited playing for Wolves. He’s near-identical to Jiménez and he’s six-years his junior. His arrival future proofs the style Nuno is looking to use. It frees the club of their over-reliance on the Mexico international, too.
The former Benfica man is already having to have his game time managed. He’s been given a prolonged summer break after appearing for his country at the Gold Cup. The Wolves boss realises that he can’t burn out his No.9: “For Raúl, you look at last season and he had a different season than the previous three seasons (playing more).
“We have to realise what we are going to do. It would be a big mistake to force him and not give him enough time, not to completely recover, but to rest. It’s important.”
The best way to protect Jiménez is to sign a forward who can deputise for him when needed. That can be Joelinton.
While he is no means prolific, the Brazilian is a real handful and Wolves be hard-pressed to find someone with a stronger claim to being Jiménez’s doppelgänger.
The Wolves forward tends to have more touches on the right, primarily because Diogo Jota drifts to the left. Joelinton’s touch map isn’t too dissimilar. The Mexico international enjoyed a stellar debut season in England and finished with 0.37 goals and 0.20 assists per 90.
He slightly edged ahead of the Brazilian in terms of goals and was just 0.01 behind him with assists. Again, though, eerily similar.
Both forwards have a fair number of touches in the penalty area and they both average over two shots per 90. Joelinton’s X-factor, what differentiates him from Jiménez, is his ball-carrying ability.
He slaloms past people with nimble footwork despite his big frame; it’s not too dissimilar to how Roberto Firmino shifts through the gears. And in many ways, his style mimics the Liverpool No.9.
They both do a lot of their work off of the ball and neither are what you’d describe as a potent threat. But what they bring to a team can’t always be quantified – such as creating space, closing passing lanes and being a general nuisance.
That type of player often thrives in England. The fact he’s a hybrid between Firmino and Jiménez just increases the likelihood that he’d excel in the Premier League.
Even for a rumoured €40million fee, Joelinton could prove to be exactly what Wolves need.