Wolverhampton Wanderers have completed their second signing of a player who features at this summer’s World Cup with the capture of goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Sporting Lisbon.
Mexico striker Raul Jimenez joined the club on a season-long loan from Benfica last week, but the signing of Patricio is the biggest coup to date for the West Midlands side.
The Portuguese international, who has 71 caps to his name at the time of writing, has joined Wolves on a four-year deal and would seem set to replace John Ruddy as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.
Napoli had also been linked with the wantaway Sporting custodian, who terminated his own contract with the Primeira Liga giants after a training ground attack by 50 of the club’s supporters.
Six of Patricio’s Sporting teammates did likewise, and while Wolves have thus been able to sign the 30-year-old goalkeeper on a free, there is still a reasonable chance that compensation will have to be agreed with the Lisbon club at a later date.
A one-team man until his move to the Premier League, Patricio was signed at the age of 12 by Sporting and progressed through the club’s academy to the first-team squad.
Patricio made his senior debut in November 2006, aged just 18, saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in Sporting’s 1-0 away league win at Maritimo.
The 2007/08 campaign was Patricio’s breakthrough season at Sporting following erstwhile number one Ricardo’s departure to Real Betis: Patricio made 20 league appearances and his UEFA Champions League debut – while still a teenager – en route to his first major honour: the Taca de Portugal, Portugal’s main domestic knockout competition.
Patricio remained Sporting’s first choice for the next decade, starting at least 30 league matches in eight of those ten seasons and making a total of 93 appearances in European competition.
Named Sporting’s Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Patricio added another Taca de Portugal winners’ medal to his collection in 2014/15 and lifted the Taca de Liga (a competition contested by the teams playing in Portugal’s top two divisions) trophy in his final season in Lisbon. A league title win eluded Patricio during his 12 years with the first team, however.
Patricio left Sporting after 467 appearances for the first team in all competitions, a tally surpassed by only one other player in the club’s history.
After appearing for Portugal at every age group from the Under-16’s up, Patricio finally made his national team debut in November 2010 – two years after he had been an unused member of Portugal’s Euro 2008 squad.
Patricio soon toppled Eduardo as his country’s first-choice option between the posts and started the next four major tournaments – Euro 2012, the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup – as Portugal’s number one.
The European Championship win two years ago was arguably Patricio’s finest hour. Wolves’ new goalkeeper kept four clean sheets in the competition and was named in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament after a superb display in the final against France.
Beating other suitors to Patricio’s signature is a real achievement for Wolves and an indication of the clout they now have in the transfer market, with “super-agent” George Mendes pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The transfer is also an intriguing one for Fantasy managers and all eyes will be on the release of the Fantasy Premier League price list in July. We would perhaps expect a newly promoted side’s first-choice goalkeeper to cost £4.5m (as was the case with the three sides who came up from the Championship in 2016/17), but Patricio’s pedigree alone sets him apart from the other likely candidates in that price bracket.
Interest in the Portuguese goalkeeper is likely to be heightened given Wolves’ fairly kind opening run of fixtures in 2018/19: the two Manchester clubs are the only “Big Six” sides that Wanderers face in their opening ten matches, a sequence of fixtures that also includes home meetings with Everton, Burnley, Southampton and Watford.
Wolves’ defence was the joint-best in the Championship last season (39 goals conceded in 46 matches), with John Ruddy keeping a division-high 24 clean sheets in his 45 appearances for the West Midlands club.
Interestingly, Wolves kept as many clean sheets away from home as they did at Molineux and they were the only second-tier side to concede less than a goal a game on their travels (21 goals in 23 games).
Patricio, meanwhile, produced 17 clean sheets in 34 league appearances last season, conceding only 24 goals.
The Portuguese shot-stopper has recorded at least ten shut-outs in nine of his last ten seasons with Sporting and hasn’t conceded more than 36 league goals in a single campaign with the Lisbon club.
Rui Patricio – A Season-by-Season Analysis
P = Appearances
CS = Clean sheets
GC = Goals conceded
Patricio made more saves per match (2.4) than Ruddy (2.2) last season, but those averages reflect how relatively untroubled both goalkeepers were playing in sides towards the top end of their respective divisions: by way of comparison, Jack Butland averaged 4.1 saves per match playing for struggling Stoke City in the Premier League in 2017/18.
Continuing the comparisons between Wolves’ two senior custodians, Patricio saved 77.4% of shots he faced, compared with Ruddy’s total of 73.3%. Of the Premier League goalkeeepers who made more than three starts in 2017/18, only David de Gea (82.1%) had a better save percentage than Patricio.
Ruddy conceded a goal every 112.5 minutes, meanwhile, compared with Patricio’s average of one every 127.5 minutes. The Portuguese international’s mean trumped even de Gea in this regard: the Manchester United goalkeeper shipped a league goal every 118.9 minutes.
Last season, promoted goalkeepers were an excellent source of FPL value in terms of points per million. Both Mat Ryan (31.7) of Brighton and Hove Albion and Jonas Lossl (29.3) of Huddersfield Town were among the top five players for this statistic.
Lossl, Ryan and new West Ham signing Lukasz Fabianski – who had starting prices of £4.5m – all finished in the top five of goalkeepers with the highest total score, underscoring the value that budget shot-stoppers can potentially offer.
With defender Barry Douglas as the obvious route into the Wanderers backline, Patricio’s FPL ownership might be relatively low as Fantasy managers stay clear of a Wolves defensive “double-up”: the Scottish international scored five goals and registered 14 assists from the wing-back position in 2017/18.
However, Patricio’s status as a world-class shot-stopper – highlighted in his performance in Portugal’s 1-0 win over Iran earlier today – means he is a strong budget goalkeeping option to consider for next season.