O’Neil | ‘His enthusiasm and endeavour caught my eye’

Head coach Gary O’Neil says getting Rodrigo Gomes through the door early in the window will allow him crucial time to build chemistry with the group ahead of his first Premier League season.

The 20-year-old wide man completed a permanent move from SC Braga this week and possesses a similar hunger and desire to Joao Gomes in the Wolves midfield, according to O’Neil.

It’s that mentality which make the head coach so happy with his new arrival, alongside the versatility he boasts, meaning he’ll offer options to Wolves in a number of positions next season, which will be crucial to O’Neil.

On getting Gomes over the line

“I’m delighted, especially to get one in so early. I think in transfer windows it’s very easy for everything to drag on and get done very late, but from a squad point of view, laying plans for next season, it’s really important. The type of player Rodrigo is, he had a fantastic season last season, playing in many different positions and he’s only 20 years old. For where we are as a club, he’s the perfect type of signing for us. He’s young and has potential.

“He’s not proven at Premier League level yet, but he’s one we definitely know we can get to that level – we can work with him and help him develop, proving himself in the toughest league in the world. I’m really looking forward to working with him, he’s a great character – every time I’ve watched him, his enthusiasm and endeavour has drawn my eyes towards him, so I’m really pleased and he’s a really good signing for us.”

On the conversations about Gomes

“The recruitment team do the early part of everything, so they’re the ones who flag him and with Matt they collate the names we think might be able to help us and might be available, and once it starts to get a little bit further down, obviously I start to watch games. I watch the individual bits they send me, but my preference is to do full games and see what they’re like.

“It was a good process, and it was the last bit I got involved in, to make sure we felt he’d fit in well with the team. I’ve spoken to him in the last day or so, while he went through the bits needed for a Premier League club. He’s excited and he’ll fit in well. There’s a lot of players who’ll speak a similar language and his English is good, and he’s a hungry, humble, honest, hardworking kid who is very, very talented. So, I’m delighted to get that type in as early as we have.”

On him complementing the squad

“He plays off the side and I like him off the outside. He’s played at full-back, at wing-back and I like him on the side of the midfield. We were unbelievably short of width last season, it was only Pedro who felt comfortable on the outside of the pitch attacking player wise, so when we were without Pedro we were stuck. Everything was central and we played narrow, so to have Rodrigo available to us on either side, and it’s not just his threat going forward, it’s how diligent and hardworking he is without the ball, will benefit us.

“You have to have it in the Premier League – you watch the top teams and, as good as they are with the ball, as soon as they lose the ball, they’re all really hard working, really diligent, so it’s something we need to add and get better at, and Rodrigo will help us.”

On being a player to improve

“It’s a different part of the pitch and different type of player, but personality wise he reminds me of Joao Gomes, with his hunger and desire, how humble he is. They’re very similar and we saw how successful Joao was last season, in his first full season in the Premier League. There’s a lot of work needed with Rodrigo to get him up to speed and you don’t want to put too much pressure on a player of that age coming into the toughest league in the world.

“We need to understand the difficulties of it, but there’s no reason with what he has available and the skill set he has, that we can’t make him affective in the Premier League very quickly. I’ve spoken a lot about the culture of the football club since I arrived, and we worked hard to push it in a certain direction, and this signing continues to do that for us.”

On getting the deal done early

“Obviously, a lot of the planning’s gone into place now for pre-season and, depending how our players get on in the tournaments, we’re not going to have many of them [initially]. So, being able to get Rodrigo in adds to the numbers, and the understanding of what we do and how we play will be really important to him. Without wishing bad on the lads away at their tournaments, hopefully they come back as soon as possible, and we can start to blend something.

“The understanding is really important and you saw how, for example Rayan and Cunha played together down the left, the more understanding they had, the more trouble they caused teams. Chemistry takes time sometimes, so it’s really important we get people in, we get our players back and we start to do some really good work, making sure pre-season sets us up for a successful Premier League campaign. We know how tough it’s going to be, it was unbelievably though last year, as we saw towards the end when we lost some bodies. We all understand the need to depth this season and hopefully this is the first part of that.”