The arrival of Wesley Moraes should dampen any remaining hopes that Tammy Abraham will return to Aston Villa this season.
In signing the Brazilian on Friday, manager Dean Smith broke the club’s transfer record, subject to a work permit and international clearance.
The fee is believed to be in the region of £22 million, in excess of the £18 million plus add-ons spent on Darren Bent in 2011.
For that reason, it seems likely that Wesley will slot straight into the vacancy left by Abraham after his return to Chelsea on loan, with 2018/19 impact substitute Jonathan Kodjia the only other real competitor for his place.
The Brazilian already looks to be a different type of player than Abraham, but there is a chance he could boost the Fantasy potential of his midfield colleagues more than the Chelsea forward could in 2019/20.
We’ve had a look at what the former Club Brugge man can offer and whether or not he will be worthing owning in FPL this year.
Given his history up until this point, we don’t have access to data as detailed as shots or key passes.
However, we can still analyse his goal-scoring record as well as anecdotal evidence.
The History and Statistics
After six years as a youth player at relatively small-time Brazilian club Itabuna, target man Wesley’s first senior appearance was with Slovakian side Trenčín in 2015/16.
During one season in the Fortuna League, Wesley netted six goals in 18 appearances, also contributing to a league title and Slovak Cup win.
All of that earned him a move to Club Brugge, for whom he scored on his debut against KVC Westerlo at the end of the 2015/16.
During his first full campaign in Belgium he scored just one league goal in 17 appearances but earned significant praise from then manager Michel Preud’homme for his contribution to the team.
“Wesley is a ball-solid attacker who can also play with his back to goal. He is a young player with a lot of potential who has already proven to be effective when needed. We already have several good strikers in our core, but with Wesley we get a profile that we didn’t have before.” – Michel Preud’homme, Club Brugge manager 2013-2017
The arrival of new manager Ivan Leko in June 2017 unlocked Wesley’s potential further and as Brugge won the Belgian league in 2017/18, he scored seven times in 28 appearances.
Half-way through the following campaign, Wesley’s impressive performances meant he was linked with a move to Arsenal, while other Premier League clubs were also interested.
His coach at the time confirmed how much raw talent the player had and insisted that a move to the top-flight of English football would suit him.
“In terms of talent, Wesley is one of the best players I have ever trained. I would be super proud if he went to Arsenal. Or to Tottenham or Liverpool. It does not matter whether it is today, tomorrow, in six months or a year. Wesley has everything to play at a European top club one day. Doesn’t everyone dream of such a transfer anyway?” – Ivan Leko
A move never materialised but Wesley still finished 2018/19 in decent form. He continued to hold together the Brugge attack and added 10 goals in 25 appearances.
He leaves Brugge with 38 goals and 14 assists in 130 appearances in competitions, and a host of awards to boot.
For a player of his age, he is already remarkably decorated, with a Slovak League title, a Slovak Cup, two Belgian top-flight titles, two Belgian Super Cup wins and two Belgian Young Professional Footballer of the Year awards too.
Despite all the promise surrounding Wesley, Fantasy managers hoping that he can be the sequel to Abraham’s 26-goal Championship campaign are probably destined for disappointment.
As already mentioned, the Brazilian’s style of play is markedly different from the Chelsea man.
He is not especially fast and finishing is not really his strong-suit either.
In fact, his former captain at Club Brugge Ruud Vormer was even recorded as saying that Wesley should probably record a 20/25-goal season in Belgium before stepping up to a higher level.
As we already saw, he never managed more than 10 league goals in a top-flight Belgian season.
“I think he can handle a tough competition, but I think he first has to make 20, 25 goals in Belgium before he takes that step. Then you will come in like a different man.” – Ruud Vormer, Club Brugge captain
Where Abraham was the all-round accomplished finisher at the forefront of Villa’s 4-3-3, Wesley is much more of a target man.
Naturally, that means his key attributes are his strength, intelligent movement, height and decent ability in the air.
These are not normally the main strengths of budget and mid-price forwards in FPL.
Perhaps the key Fantasy appeal of Wesley’s arrival will not be his own, but that of his colleagues.
By signing someone who plays with their back to goal and holds up possession in advanced positions, Smith will be hoping that options in the front-three such as Anwar El Ghazi or Jota will see more of the ball.
Whether Wesley’s attributes will help the deeper options such as Conor Hourihane, John McGinn or Jack Grealish is harder to predict, but it’s certainly something to watch in pre-season as that trio have already been identified as the best Fantasy options at this early stage.
It is also worth pointing out that if Wesley is the regular starting striker, which seems probable given the fee paid for him, then Villa will be playing a different style of football in 2019/20.
While this seems fairly sensible given the step-up in quality from the Championship to the Premier League, it could mean that those around him take some time to get used to it.
The other thing to be aware of for Fantasy managers is Wesley’s aggression and temper.
Both opponents and colleagues during his time in Belgium admit that the Brazilian probably needs to work on keeping calm as he moves to English football.
In May 2017 he allowed an ongoing physical battle with AA Gent’s Stefan Mitrovic to get out of control, lashing out at his opponent and probably should have been sent off.
“For me, it is duels that are part of football. Because Mitrovic caused a lot of drama, it all looked much worse. I like to fight duels and I don’t think I did anything wrong today. ” – Wesley
“The only thing he needs to learn is to stay calm. It was continuous fireworks between Mitrovic and him. Get mentally stronger. Only then will he become much better.” – Renato Neto, AA Gent player and friend of Wesley
Furthermore, he caused some controversy and angered Leko back in January when he snatched the ball off designated penalty taker Hans Vanaken in a match against KV Oostende.
Thankfully for Wesley, he scored the spot-kick but given what we saw with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara at Fulham last season, this sort of event will probably put people off owning him in FPL even more.
That said, Villa don’t currently have a penalty taker with last season’s designated man Abraham unlikely to return – so Wesley might be able to make the case for the spot-kicks himself.
“I was angry with Wesley. Hans is the designated penalty taker and everyone must respect the guidelines. Wesley too. Of course I understand that a striker wants to fuel confidence. But in football you have to respect the agreements. If the ball didn’t go in, Wesley would have had a problem.” – Ivan Leko
In conclusion, we shouldn’t expect too much value out of Wesley at this stage but it will be important to see what impact he can have on his attacking colleagues at Villa Park.
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