Nelson Semedo‘s (£5.5m) arrival in the Premier League is likely to have an impact on several different areas of Wolves’ squad this season.
The highly-regarded right-back joins the Molineux side from Barcelona in the wake of Matt Doherty‘s (£6.0m) departure to Spurs.
As a result, Fantasy Premier League managers are likely to have some questions about his role at Wolves. Will Semedo become a viable asset on his own? Can he improve the club’s attacking threat? Will his arrival impinge on the Fantasy credentials of any other options? We have taken a closer look.
The History and Statistics
The fact that Semedo arrives at Molineux as something of a coup-signing tells you much of what you need to know about his pedigree.
In three years at Barcelona, the 26-year-old has won four major trophies, including two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and another Supercopa de España.
“It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to sign a world-class player from a world-class club. Nelson’s signing shows we will never stop progressing and we are still hungry and humble in our heart.” – Jeff Shi
Semedo has hardly been a bit-part player either, making 82 league appearances for the Catalan giants since the start of 2017/18.
2019/20 was when the Portuguese international was most useful to Barcelona, appearing 42 times in all competitions and providing six assists.
As well as regularly turning out for Barcelona in La Liga, Semedo has plenty of Champions League experience too. Over the last three seasons, he made a minimum of seven appearances in that competition, playing ten times in 2018/19 when Barcelona made it to the semi-finals.
Semedo’s rise to Barcelona’s first-team occurred quickly. He spent the 2011/12 season in Portugal’s Terceira Divisão for Sintrense, joining Benfica in 2013/14.
After a couple of seasons in their B-side, he broke into the first team in 2015/16, making 12 Primeira Liga appearances, scoring once.
Then a full campaign as the first-choice right-back for Benfica in 2016/17 saw Semedo turn out 31 times in the league, adding a goal and six assists.
He also made eight Champions League appearances for the Portuguese side that year, finding the net once too – all enough to capture Barcelona’s attention.
Across his time with those two major European clubs, Semedo has displayed powerful pace, allowing him to cover plenty of ground either as a traditional full-back or a flying wing-back.
Combined with excellent dribbling skills, Semedo is known for his ability to move possession up the field with his driving runs, but is also capable of progressing it through the use of his passing.
During his time at Barcelona, Semedo has shown an eye for a killer pass, although these are usually of the shorter kind. In contrast to a Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), Semedo is less likely to be firing in sweeping crosses than getting involved in more intricate pieces of passing play.
Meanwhile, experience at the highest level in Spain and Europe has instilled positive mental attributes in the player too.
He has now made 13 international appearances for Portugal, so has already had the chance to train and play competitively with a large handful of his new Wolves colleagues.
But what does all this mean for Semedo in comparison with the rest of his new defensive colleagues? We need to look at some comparisons to find out.
|2019-20||Mins per shot||Mins per shot in the box||Mins per shot on target||Mins per key pass|
The first thing that the comparisons tell us is that Semedo will probably have to work very hard to provide the same level of attacking threat Doherty offered during his time at Wolves.
The Spurs wing-back was involved in 12 of Wolves’ league goals last season, while Semedo scored just once and put up two assists in one of the continent’s biggest and best teams.
That output appears to be consistent with the player’s underlying statistics too. In 2019/20, Doherty had the best figures for minutes per shot (81.1), minutes per shot in the box (86.1) and minutes per shot on target (189.3).
When it came to the frequency of shots, Romain Saïss (£5.1m), Ruben Vinagre (£4.4m), Jonny (£5.5m), Marçal (£5.0m) and Willy Boly (£5.5m) all performed better than Semedo last season.
While neither one of Marçal or Conor Coady (£5.0m) managed a single shot in the box in 2019/20, Vinagre, Saïss, Jonny and Boly all registered efforts there more frequently than Wolves’ new right-back – and each of them, other than Vinagre, more regularly saw their shots land on target.
Meanwhile, Semedo’s rate of creativity was not particularly strong compared to his new team-mates.
Marçal played a key pass every 69.3 minutes last season, while Vinagre and Jonny both did better than Semedo in this department. And for anyone wondering if the new signing can be the new Doherty, the latter also had a better figure for minutes per key pass (135.2) than his replacement (174.8).
Naturally, these figures are somewhat underwhelming, especially for someone who turned out for such a high-end club in a division that arguably has a lower overall quality of opponents.
However, there may be mitigating circumstances in terms of formations played and team-mates. The full-backs in Wolves’ 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 systems usually get to spend more time around the final third than those in a 4-2-3-1, the formation preferred at Barcelona.
And, paying no disrespect to Wolves, it was probably harder to be heavily involved in key areas when sharing the pitch with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez than it might be in a more advanced roles with less big-name players.
But those factors, in and of themselves, could play a part in Semedo’s integration into the Wolves team. The player should fit nicely into the all-action role quickly given his pace, but it could still be something of a waiting game for anyone interested in his Fantasy signature. After all, it is hard to know exactly how Nuno will use Semedo this season. For example, for all the intrigue surrounding Marçal’s arrival, he played an exceptionally deep role in the 2-0 win at Sheffield United.
Considering centre-back Saïss offered an encouraging amount of threat in the final third and penalty box last season, and at the start of this, for a cheaper price, Semedo will have to improve his underlying numbers and make a seriously explosive start to life at Wolves to pull Fantasy interest away from the Moroccan international.
Furthermore, Nuno’s next press conference carries serious Fantasy significance. If Marçal is ruled out for a particularly long-term period, then Vinagre becomes an exceptionally promising value option on the opposite flank to Semedo.
As you can see from the charts above, Vinagre outperformed his compatriot in each of the four key areas considered other than minutes per shot on target last season.
However, Semedo’s Fantasy impact is not limited to Wolves’ defensive assets. His arrival is expected to heat-up competition for places further up the pitch.
Adama Traoré (£6.5m) has been filling in for Doherty in the initial Premier League matches of the season, used in the right wing-back role of a 3-4-3 formation.
That has allowed Daniel Podence (£5.6m) and Pedro Neto (£5.5m) mostly unrivalled access to starting berths either side of Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m) in the front-three, while Vitinha (£5.0m) has, for the most part, contributed as an impact substitute.
The addition of Semedo to the Wolves squad should relieve Traoré of his wing-back duties very soon and shift him back into competition with Podence, Neto and Vitinha further up the field.
That might be of some slight concern to the 260,000+ managers who signed Podence ahead of the Gameweek 3 deadline. Wolves’ number 10 has probably done enough to start the trip to West Ham on merit, but Neto has been no slouch so far this season.
While Podence still looks like a good option in the short-term, some examination of how Traoré compares to him, Neto and Vitinha in Nuno’s mind may be needed to find out of the former Olympiacos man can retain his Fantasy appeal over a longer period.