Why Ryan Manning could be a shrewd signing for Wolves in January

According to claims from Football Insider, as cited by the Birmingham Live, Wolves have been credited with an interest in QPR star Ryan Manning, with Nuno Santo keen to make further additions to bolster his squad during the mid-season trading period in January. 

Premier League rivals Everton and Newcastle United have also expressed an interest in the £5 million-rated former Republic of Ireland U21 international, who has impressed in an unfamiliar left-back role in the Championship under the stewardship of Mark Warburton this season. (h/t Football Insider h/t Birmingham Live)

Manning, who shot to prominence with Mervue United and Galway United in his homeland, completed a move to QPR back in January 2015 and burst on to the scene during the 2016-17 campaign. 

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Ryan Manning has represented Ireland at the U-21 level (Getty Images)

The 23-year-old only played a bit-part role at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium earlier in his career and spent the first half of the previous campaign on loan at Rotherham United in the Championship. However, the appointment of Warburton has worked wonders for the Irishman, who has been making waves in the second-tier ever since being shifted to a left-back role.

The Galway-born star has started each of QPR’s 22 games in the Championship so far this season, playing every minute of the club’s league campaign and impressing with a goal and three assists to show for his efforts. 

As per the report, Wolves could try to nab Manning on a cut-price deal in January due to his unresolved contract situation at QPR. The R’s, though, have the option of triggering a 12-month extension clause in his contract, which would then extend his stay at the club until 2021.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side haven’t really hit top gear in the Premier League so far this season but the Black Country outfit still find themselves placed 6th in the table. 

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Manning has been converted to a left-back by QPR manager Mark Warburton this season (Getty Images)

Thus, Nuno Santo must add more depth to his rather small and tight-knit squad during the mid-season transfer window to cope with the challenge of playing on multiple fronts and a versatile utility player like Ryan Manning could be a welcome addition to the ranks.

Essentially a versatile midfielder capable of playing in multiple positions across the midfield, Manning has added another dimension to his game with his displays at left-back in the Championship this season. 

Ruben Vinagre has deputized for first-choice left- wing-back Jonny Otto Castro but Manning seems to have a lot more creativity and end product in his game, as evident from his statistics in the Championship. 

As per whoscored, Manning has averaged 2.1 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 1.5 clearances, 1 dribble, 2 key passes, 2 crosses and 2.2 long balls per game at QPR, figures which lie testament to his proficiency in breaking up the play and creating chances from the wide areas. 

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Newcastle, Wolves and Everton are all chasing Manning ahead of the January window (Getty Images)

That could make him just the ideal fodder for a powerful target-man Raul Jimenez, who thrives on the quality of deliveries from the wing-backs in Nuno Santo’s counter-attacking system. 

Also, Manning’s versatility to play in central midfield could facilitate some much-needed rotation in the middle of the park, where Wolves have relied way too heavily on Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves.

Verdict

Leander Dondocnker and Romain Saiss, both central midfielders by trade, have been forced to play alongside Conor Coady at the back in the absence of Willy Boly, with Ryan Bennett no longer a mainstay and Real Madrid loanee Jesus Vallejo failing to make an impact. 

While bringing in a replacement for Boly, who is expected to miss the rest of the campaign with a long-term injury, continues to be a priority for Wolves, someone like Ryan Manning also fits the bill. The Irishman’s versatility would offer Nuno Santo some valuable cover in multiple areas of the pitch.

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All in all, Wolves beating off competition in the race to sign the QPR star would pay off handsomely.