Fare thee well Patrick. We hardly knew ye. A six-month jaunt in the West Midlands, three goals, a handful of minutes and a rather catchy tune is all Patrick Cutrone will be able to take with him as he heads to his homeland, if not his actual home.
There were high hopes, of course, but this is a young man, whose fragility was evident last season in the comfort of his own surroundings, let alone this year at Wolves which for all intents and purposes is the Planet Zog to a player who has only ever known AC Milan.
Maybe his reputation preceded him to the extent that we were a bit too expectant. AC Milan is not the pond it once used to be so fishing in there shouldn’t necessarily hold the allure that it does. That said, Cutrone is young, determined and proficient, all attributes he displayed one way or another during his time at Molineux. I still recall the way brought a pass from our other January departure, Jesus Vallejo, under his spell in a way which only a player of significant technical quality can, before setting up Pedro Neto for his first goal versus Pyunik. It was encouraging and exciting. We all love a new centre forward.
But it was not to be. I do believe Cutrone suffered from the team’s own poor form int he early part of the season when he was fielded in a 3-5-2 alongside Jimenez, a role which brought the best out of neither and magnified the teams need for forwards who could carry the ball if we are to play in that shape. He worked and he worked but for a forward who thrives off chances being created for him, he was on a hiding to nothing.
The formation changed and results and performances soon prospered, but this team ain’t big enough for the both of them, with Raul Jimenez the obvious starter in the central striker position and thriving. Cutrone was sidelined and despite Jimenez – a man who until last season had not been the spearhead of an attack over the course of a whole campaign for a number of years – looking visibly tired in a number of games, Cutrone was restricted to very short cameos. He managed to bag in a victory over West Ham, but he was often the lone press in a team happy to sit on a result in the closing stages.
He was seemingly never trusted in the role that Jimenez performs so brilliantly and sadly it seems we’ll never know if he was ever able to do the job. I obviously speak without the benefit of seeing the players train on a daily basis, but it feels like an oversight that he didn’t get a start with Adama Traore and Diogo Jota flying either side of him.
At which point you have to look at the business Wolves have done recently and come to some sort of conclusion. If you look at the current best XI – Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota – they were all in situ at the start of last season. That Traore and Dendoncker took so long to acclimatise is just part and parcel of Nuno’s ways, but perhaps in Cutrone’s case he just wasn’t prepared to be as patient as those two. He and Vallejo are now both in the departures lounge leaving Pedro Neto as the only first team addition to have had any positive impact since last summer.
We enter a third transfer window since then at a crossroads. Mid-season signings can make or break a team: for every Christophe Dugarry at Blues, there’s a Tino Asprilla at Newcastle United. One thing we can rest assured is that Nuno will leave no stone unturned in his quest to make a good signing. Whether they then turn out how he would hope is a different matter altogether.