Wolverhampton Wanderers haven’t done the business that anyone expected or at least hoped for so far in the January transfer window.
Just one player has joined to date - 26-year-old midfielder Hayao Kawabe making the move to Molineux during the first week from Swiss side Grasshopper Zurich.
And whilst it wasn’t a signing to blow your socks off - at least it was a signing.
Although a Japanese international, Kawabe is quite the unknown entity, especially for English football fans.
He’s expected to head back out to Switzerland following their winter break so it may be a while before Wolves fans even get to see their new man in action.
And whilst some will be keeping an eye on the Grasshoppers moving forward to see how he performs - there will be those that simply don’t have the time for that.
So we got in touch with Natalia, a Russian writer and Grasshopper Zurich fan to get an in-depth look at the new Wolves man to see whether she believes he has what it takes to make the step up to Premier League football this season or beyond.
What type of midfielder is he?
He is a very clever player who has been able to impress with his development at GCZ.
He can play in the defensive midfield, in the centre or closer to the attack and he can make himself useful at any of those positions.
He mostly played in the central midfield at GCZ and showed great passing ability, field vision and creativity at that position.
I liked him a little less at positions closer to the attack, as it seems he needs a little more time to make the correct decision there; I believe it can be further improved with more practice.
All in all, he is an intelligent player progressing fast and promising to develop into a decent central midfielder useful in transition from the defense to the attack.
What’s the reaction been like from the Grasshopper side to him leaving?
Many are upset, of course, because it seems like the Wolves are taking an important player in the middle of the season.
If the loan back to GCZ happens, I think it is not a disaster. We all understand that the Swiss league in general is a step in the development of talented players.
I suppose the Wolves connection might have helped to scout him and put him under a contract in the first place, so as long as the partnership is balanced and beneficial for both sides, it is fine.
What have his performances been like this season?
His stats are not very impressive (4 goals 2 assists in the league), but as I have mentioned he played more often in the central midfield and not immediately in the attack and he was very useful there. One can clearly see his progress from the beginning of the season, however, he still can improve, even in the Super League.
Key strengths and weaknesses?
He is hard-working, both on and off the pitch.
His creativity at the ball and his passing ability are his strengths.
Speaking of weaknesses, he has to improve crosses and shots and assess the situation in front of the opponent’s goal faster, continue the attack with a pass when needed and take a shot when needed: this kind of mistakes have cost GCZ half a dozen good chances this season.
Do you believe he has what it takes to break into the Wolves XI?
At the moment, I don’t think so. However, he has been progressing fast and steadily, so in the future it is possible. This is why I believe a loan back would be the most beneficial decision to all the sides involved.
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