Premier League

Unhappy Liverpool youngster may not find solace at Wolves

 • by Matt Gault
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Fulham are a devastating example of how not to play the transfer market, Wolverhampton Wanderers belong at the other end of the spectrum.

As the Premier League swooned at the Cottagers’ £100million splurge on the likes of Jean Michaël Seri, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Aleksandar Mitrović, Wolves quietly played a blinder.

They wrapped up Diogo Jota on a permanent deal after his excellent performances on loan helped seal promotion. Jonny Otto was also recruited from Atlético Madrid, initially on loan before penning a four-and-a-half-year contract in January.

Also through the door came Rúben Vinagre, another who spent last season on loan at Molineux, Rui Patrício, Willy Boly and João Moutinho who, at £5million, has proven an absolute steal. Eye-catching loans for Raúl Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker rounded out an impressive window (even if we’re still questioning the £18million acquisition of dribble merchant Adama Traoré).

And, having shown everyone that they’re here to stay, Nuno Espírito Santo and his staff have dove into their preparations for another year of besting the top six, cup runs and hugging each other on the touchline.

The target is breaking into the top six and, according to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo (via Sport Witness), they feel as though disgruntled Liverpool youngster Rafael Camacho can help them achieve it.

The 18-year-old, proud owner of one of the greatest surnames in football, joined the Reds in 2016 after three years in Manchester City‘s talent factory.

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However, despite his tender years and the clear superiority of those above him in the Anfield pecking order, he is unhappy, both at not playing regularly and at Jürgen Klopp for the German playing him out of position.

Camacho, who has 12 goals and eight assists for Liverpool’s youth sides this season, was deployed at right-back on his debut which, interestingly, was against Wolves in the FA Cup.

Ki-Jana Hoever, 16 at the time, attracted most of the attention but the young Portuguese caught the eye on the right flank. Given that he is naturally a winger, it was unsurprising to see him caught high up the pitch a couple of times but there were enough flashes – mainly bursts of pace and neat touches – to notice his abilities. He also made a crucial, impeccably-timed tackle on Wilfried Zaha in the dying seconds of the Reds’ chaotic 4-3 win over Crystal Palace a few weeks later.

The Wolves link comes at an interesting time. Fresh from netting a hat-trick in Liverpool Under-23s’ 6-0 rout of Leicester City on Sunday (including a thumping effort you can watch below), Camacho highlighted the mistaken perception that he is best suited to a defensive role.

“I do not know whose idea it is, but I will prove that they are mistaken about my football,” said Camacho. “I’m not a right defender, I’m an attacker who scores goals. This is my DNA.”

Camacho is out of contract next year and Liverpool may decide to cash in. A loan move to Sporting Lisbon failed to materialise in January but a sizeable offer from Wolves would be difficult to turn down.

However, while it makes sense from a Liverpool perspective, it’s difficult to see where Camacho fits into Wolves’ future.

Nuno has mainly set his side out in a 3-5-2 formation this season, and unless he plans to change tack for 2019/20, he surely couldn’t guarantee the Reds youngster much more than a bit-part role. Matt Doherty has been exceptional at right wing-back while Traoré has also shown potential in that role when he’s deputised for the Irishman.

It could go either way for Wolves. Liverpool are likely to demand a decent fee for a young player of reasonable potential and that could ramp up pressure on both Camacho and Santo. Given the Portugal Under-21 international’s penchant for speaking his mind, it may also be a challenge to keep him content as he waits for first-team opportunities.

On the other hand, the Old Gold have proven to be shrewd operators in the transfer market. If they feel he’s the right man for them, there must be something to it.

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