Why Wolves should prioritise a move for Unai Nunez this summer
According to claims from Spanish source AS (h/t Birmingham Live), Wolves have been credited with an interest in Athletic Bilbao centre-half Unai Nunez, with Nuno Espirito Santo keen to add more depth to his squad.
Arsenal, Everton, West Ham, Monaco, and AC Milan have all been mentioned among the potential suitors for the 23-year-old, who has a release clause of €30m in his current contract with the La Liga outfit.(h/t Birmingham Live)
As per the report, Nunez has turned down the opportunity to extend his contract with Athletic Bilbao beyond 2023 and is currently weighing up an exit from the Basque club.
The Spanish international is represented by Jorge Mendes, the Iberian super agent who has brokered deals for the likes of Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota to move to Molineux. Hence, the Midlands outfit seem to have a major advantage in the race to sign the defender. (h/t Birmingham Live)
Born in Sestao, Spain, Unai Nunez rose through the youth ranks of Athletic Bilbao and initially featured for the club’s reserve team before making his La Liga debut during the 2017-18 campaign.
The 23-year-old’s stellar debut campaign in the Spanish top-flight saw him accumulate 33 league starts for his boyhood club. But he has gradually slipped down the pecking order due to stiff competition for places.
Nunez managed only 11 starts in the La Liga in 2018-19 followed by 16 league starts last term as the Basque outfit finished 11th in the standings. Despite his bit-part role on the domestic front, Nunez was handed his senior international debut for Spain against Faroe Islands last year.
Wolves’ current defensive scenario
Wolves conceded just 40 goals in 38 games en route their 7th-place finish in the Premier League last season. It was the fifth-best defensive record in the entire division.
So, on the face of it, the Black Country outfit apparently have enough quality at the back to rub shoulders with the elite clubs in the PL. However, Nuno Espirito Santo lacks adequate depth in his defensive unit to cope with the challenge of having to compete on multiple fronts.
With Willy Boly spending a few months on the treatment table, the manager had to shoehorn defensive midfielders Leander Dendoncker and Romain Saiss to partner captain Conor Coady in a back-three system.
Ryan Bennett turned into a marginalized figure in Wolves’ set-up, spending the second half of the previous campaign out on loan at Leicester City. Academy prospect Max Kilman showed strong signs of promise whenever he was called into action. But it goes without saying that Wolves need at least another specialist central defender to increase competition for places in their ranks.
Why Nunez would be the answer
Unai Nunez would be a handy addition to the ranks at Molineux. The 23-year-old already boasts 77 appearances for Bilbao in all competitions and has also made his senior debut for Spain. So, the centre-back already has a fair bit of experience under his belt. That should make it easier for him to acclimatise to life in English football should a move materialize this summer.
Nunez still has his best years ahead of him at 23 and is only expected to get better with time. Thus, Wolves shouldn’t shy away from a significant outlay for the Spaniard in the transfer market.
Moreover, the presence of another specialist centre-back like Nunez in the ranks would allow Nuno Santo to use the likes of Dendoncker and Saiss in the midfield to reduce the workload on Neves and Joao Moutinho.
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Wolves have struggled with squad depth issues over the past 12 months and the acquisition of a talented young defender like Unai Nunez would effectively sort out their defensive conundrum for several years to come.
That being said, the Midlands club should go all out in their pursuit of the La Liga star this summer.