This article discusses the career trajectory of a Portuguese player who, like many others, joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and found himself facing challenges upon returning home. The club has been known for signing numerous Portuguese players in recent years, thanks in part to the influence of super agent Jorge Mendes.
Since 2016, 19 Portuguese players have donned the Old Gold jersey, with varying degrees of success. Some, like Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves, have excelled, while others, such as Bruno Jordão and João Teixeira, have struggled.
Gonçalo Guedes, the subject of this article, came to Wolves from La Liga’s Valencia, aiming to bolster the already growing Portuguese contingent. His impressive performances in Spain and the hope that he could bring his quality to the Premier League made him an exciting signing. After a successful stint at Valencia, where he scored 28 goals and provided 28 assists in 146 La Liga appearances, Guedes caught Bruno Lage’s attention with his stellar 2021/22 season.
Wolves secured Guedes’ services in August 2022 for £27.5 million, adding him to the roster of players represented by agent Jorge Mendes. Guedes had already built a decent international career, with seven goals in 32 games since his debut in 2015 with Benfica at just 18 years old. His early international debut was reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, but the comparison ends there as Guedes struggled to replicate Ronaldo’s Premier League success.
Guedes encountered difficulties adapting to the Premier League and only managed 17 appearances with a single goal in his debut season. The presence of other capable left-wing players like Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Jonny, and Adama Traoré in the squad further hindered his progress. Additionally, the comparison to Diogo Jota, who played a pivotal role in helping Wolves achieve promotion, weighed on Guedes.
Some experts noted the similarities in playing style between Guedes and Jota, emphasizing their explosive nature, tenacity, dribbling skills, and the ability to navigate tight spaces. Both players had a knack for goals and assists, with Jota continuing to shine for Liverpool.
While Guedes is far from Jota’s level of success, the 26-year-old still has plenty of time in his career. A loan move back to Benfica, where he began his career, may offer a chance at rejuvenation. However, the possibility of a permanent return to the Premier League seems uncertain.