Wolves and Portugal winger Pedro Neto has suffered a serious knee injury and has been ruled out for six months, meaning he will miss the rest of the Premier League season and Euro 2020.
The 21-year-old had been excellent for the Midlands side this season, notching five goals and six assists domestically which earned him a maiden call up to the national team. He scored on his international debut with a goal against Andorra and then notched two assists against Luxembourg as Portugal came from behind to win 3-1.
But now his season has come to an end prematurely after a knee injury was aggravated in the win over Fulham last week and the problem has been found to be more serious than originally thought.
Neto was used by Nuno Espirito Santo as a ready-made replacement for his international colleague Diogo Jota at Wolves this season, after Jota was allowed to move to Liverpool in a near £40million deal.
With his pace, skill and ability to go either way he caused plenty of issues for opposition defences and has arguably been Wolves’ best player throughout. He has created 51 big chances this season, the fifth most in the league, which when you consider Wolves’ performances this season and current position of 12th in the league tells you just how good he has been.
He’d also proven important to Portugal manager Fernando Santos, who was a big fan of his crossing ability during the most recent international break.
It was expected that the Braga academy graduate would be selected as one of the Seleccao’s attacking options for this summer’s European Championships, where they look to defend the crown they won back in 2016.
Along with Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva, Neto was seen to be winning the race between himself and Rafa Silva for a place in the squad and was almost seen as a wildcard because of his versatility across the front line and age.
Being out for six months is a bigger blow for Wolves, who will now have to contend with the fact they’ll be without their star attacker for the start of next season too.
With Adama Traore breaking a duck in the win over Fulham with his first goal in over 40 Premier League games and Daniel Podence also injured, Wolves’ wide options aren’t great even as it is. Loan signing Willian Jose is yet to score since signing while Raul Jimenez is continuing his recovery after fracturing his skull against Arsenal earlier in the campaign.
Neto was the bright spark, the light at the end of the tunnel, the shining hope for Wolves fans. Now, he will become a memory as he looks to recover from a knee injury.
Luckily for him he has age on his side, so missing an international tournament won’t harm him too much. The World Cup is next year anyway and he’s still young enough that even missing that tournament he’ll only be 25 by the time the tournament after that comes around.
The hope will be that he returns with the spring in his step that he had this year and that there won’t be any long term effects from the injury, but Wolves now must get used to being without their superstar winger.