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Championship

Leo Bonatini wants to stay and Wolves should keep him

The Brazilian has not scored in 18 games, but has earned a permanent Wolves switch.

Mathew Nash

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Photo: Getty Images

Wolverhampton Wanderers have a decision to make in the summer regarding striker Leo Bonatini.

The Brazilian is on loan at Molineux from Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal until the end of the season.

According to Birmingham Live, that deal can be made permanent in the summer for a fee of around €5 million (£4.4 million).

Bonatini has made himself clear about his own future. The 23-year-old told ESPN Brasil, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail, that he wants to stay with Wolves:

“It’s something I still don’t know. I’m on loan here, really, until the end of this season from Al-Hilal. I don’t know what will happen.

“But I know what I want, I want to stay. Here’s a place that I was able to adapt very well to the game style, it’s a game style that I like a lot, the country is a very good country, where I adapted to be able to live.”

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In December, this would have been an easy decision to make. The Brazilian had scored 12 goals in 22 games for the club as they romped to a Championship lead.

It was a level of form that had him in contention for the national team.

Since then, things have dropped off. Bonatini has not scored in 2018 and is now 18 games without a goal.

The January loan signing of Benik Afobe has seen him lose his place and the Molineux outfit will no longer be sure that the 23-year-old should be snapped up in the summer.

But, surely Wolves should still push forward with signing the Brazilian striker?

His form recently has been a concern. However, Wolves know what he is capable of when he is firing.

Those 12 goals in 22 games at the start of the season were no fluke and the bullish frontman has plenty of talent.

Furthermore, Wolves can not argue with the price-tag.

For a player of Bonatini’s age and talent, £4.4 million is an absolute bargain when compared to some of the prices in the Championship in recent seasons.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Wolves will need different options up front if they are promoted and new faces will be expected at Molineux.

But Bonatini will have played a pivotal role in taking the club to the top-flight. Having him on the books will be a major plus in the Premier League.

Whilst his form has dipped in recent times, £4.4 million for a 12-goal striker, at just 23 years of age, is a deal that Wolves must snap up.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Blackburn Rovers

Bradley Dack will be the Championship’s hottest property this season

The Blackburn playmaker has impressed in the opening weeks of the new season.

Liam Thomas

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Bradley Dack
Photo: Getty Images

Despite drawing their two first fixtures in the Championship this season, Blackburn have one of the league’s hottest properties in their ranks with 24-year-old midfielder Bradley Dack.

Dack joined Blackburn from Gillingham in 2017 and helped the Lancashire club’s promotion push to the Championship from League one last season, hitting the back of the net 18 times.

Dack’s talents won’t be news to any followers of the lower leagues with the creative midfielder picking up League One Player of the Year last season and in the 2015/16 campaign.

Tony Mowbray’s star man’s early season exploits seem to suggest he will be doing a lot of the same in the Championship this season.

Dack has been directly involved in 16 goals in his last 14 games for Blackburn in all competitions (nine goals, seven assists).

Impressive stats from the playmaker, whose talents were on full display in Blackburn’s Tuesday night Carabao Cup demolition job of Carlisle, where he ran the show, scoring and assisting twice in his sides 5-1 win.

If Dack continues this kind of form, it’s hard to see past any Premier League teams making a move for the attacking midfielder, especially if he receives the end of the season accolades after this campaign.

However, the 24-year-old’s current deal with Blackburn runs until 2021 and prizing him away from Ewood Park may take a considerable fee and a lot of persuasion.

It remains to be seen whether Dack will win the Championship Player of the Year award come the end of the season, but his early season form suggests that the midfielder is more than capable of doing so.

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Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest must loan out academy graduate Joe Worrall

The Reds have a proud history of nurturing players from their own academy.

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Joe Worrall
Photo: Getty Images

Nottingham Forest have made a solid start to the 2018/19 campaign with the Reds winning one and drawing two of their first three matches, playing some eye-catching football in the process.

Having spent heavily in the summer it looks as though the club’s hierarchy have tasked boss Aitor Karanka with making a genuine attempt at reaching the Premier League for the first time in over 20 years.

Given the amount of money spent it does seem as though some of last year’s players might be nothing more than fringe operatives this season and that could see many of the players deemed surplus sent out on loan before the end of the month. .

One man who could fall foul of Forest’s recruitment drive is academy graduate Joe Worrall, with the youngster failing to make any of Karanka’s squads so far this season after recovering from a knee problem which saw him miss the back end of last season.

The 21-year-old has played just over 50 times for the Reds since making his debut in October 2016 in an away game against Reading and there has been enough from his performances to suggest that he can become a regular in the Forest team at some stage.

After his latest injury setback, however, it is vitally important that Worrall gets some games under his belt and after Forest signed Michael Dawson, Tobias Figueriredo and Michael Hefele during the summer, it seems extremely unlikely that the prospect will be featuring for the first-team any time soon and it might be in the club’s best interests to sort Worrall out with a club where he will play more games.

In previous years, Forest haven’t been blessed with the plethora of talent that they have within their ranks now and that perhaps means that some of the club’s very own products might have to wait for more first-team chances, particularly over the course of this season.

Worrall has the ability to definitely be seen as one for the future at the City Ground, but a loan spell does seem like the best option for his development, at least for the 2018/19 campaign.

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Fulham

One to watch: Ryan Sessegnon under the spotlight as Tottenham host Fulham

The teenager could be forced to play at left-back this weekend.

Max Cohen

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Sessegnon
Photo: Getty Images

Ryan Sessegnon’s Premier League debut did not go quite as planned.

The highly-rated 18-year-old, who took the Championship by storm the past two seasons was largely neutralised by Crystal Palace‘s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and was denied space in the attacking areas where he is usually so dangerous.

It is still early days and it was by no means a poor performance, but revealed how the youngster must quickly adapt to the higher level of the top flight.

Sessegnon’s second ever Premier League match will come away at Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday and his performance at Wembley could go a long way in determining his success this season and later in his career.

Playing against the club he has so often been linked with will undoubtedly be difficult, providing a mental challenge that he is unlikely to have faced before.

However, perhaps the more challenging proposition will be in the footballing department. Fulham’s new left back Joe Bryan was forced off against Palace on the weekend with an injury, and is expected to be a doubt for Saturday’s fixture.

Without any true left back back-ups, Sessegnon will most likely be tasked with filling in at the left side of defence, instead of his preferred left wing position.

Against a fearsome attacking team such as Spurs, boasting the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli, the 18-year-old could endure a baptism of fire in his first ever top flight start as a defender.

Sessegnon’s performance will also be illuminating as it could provide a glimpse into his future as an attacking left back– not as an out-and-out left winger.

“He is an incredible player project, with a fantastic physical capacity. People compare him to Bale, for me it’s a mix between Marcelo and Bale. I’ve used him lately in a more offensive role, but he’s ready to be left-back of a big team that constantly attacks.”

Slavisa Jokanovic speaking to Marca this summer on Sessegnon’s future position

According to his manager, Sessegnon could develop into an attack-minded defender for a ‘big-team.’

On Saturday at Wembley, Spurs supporters could catch a first glimpse of the youngster in that role in the Premier League – a role they will be hoping he can perform for the club in north London one day.

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