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Lopetegui could unearth his next Casemiro in Wolves swoop for £53m “midfield machine” – opinion

Wolves have been linked with Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte recently and the Uruguay international could prove to be Julen Lopetegui‘s next Casemiro at Molineux.

According to Media Foot, the Midlands outfit and Atletico Madrid have spoken to Sporting Lisbon about potentially signing the 21-year-old this month, with the Jorge Mendes connection potentially set to be fruitful for Wolves once again.

The young midfielder has established himself as a key player in Ruben Amorim’s side and could add defensive steel to Wolves’ midfield that Lopetegui currently lacks, although his €60m (£53m) release clause could prove a sticking point for the Old Gold.

Ugarte has contributed more tackles per game (three) in the Portuguese top flight than anyone in the Wolves squad has managed in the Premier League, while he has also averaged a mammoth 4.8 tackles per game in the Champions League this season.

In fact, no player has won more tackles or duels in the UCL this term, which certainly backs up football talent scout Jacek Kulig’s description of him as a “midfield machine.”

Lopetegui has been lucky enough to manage some world-class talents during his time as Spain, Real Madrid and Sevilla boss but few will have been better than Casemiro, who is currently starring at Manchester United following his summer switch from Los Blancos.

The Brazil international would make 55 appearances under the Wolves boss at Madrid, contributing four goals and three assists in that time, so the Spanish manager will be well aware of his ability and influence in the midfield.

Ugarte’s FBref scouting report sees him ranked in the top 1% of midfielders across Europe for pass completion and tackles completed, while he is also in the top 10% for interceptions, blocks and dribbles completed.

Casemiro also scores impressively, as he is ranked in the top 20% for tackles, blocks, interceptions and passes completed, so the similarities with Ugarte are clear to see.

Considering the 31-year-old is ranked as the second-best performer in Erik ten Hag’s team so far this season according to WhoScored, it is obvious how important a defensive ball-winner can be in a successful side.

With Wolves still very much in a relegation fight despite positive recent results against West Ham and Everton, Lopetegui would surely love to have another Casemiro-esque player in his squad at Molineux, so the Spanish boss should definitely look at bringing Ugarte in this month.

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