Man City tout ‘friend of Hwang Hee Chan’ as Dubravljenovic replacement→Wolverhampton to sell stalwart?
Manchester City have identified Hwang Hee-chan’s (Wolverhampton Wanderers) teammate as a possible replacement for Kevin De Bruyne on the operating table.
“Manchester City are looking to sign Mateusz Nunes from Wolverhampton Wanderers before the summer transfer window closes in 2023,” British outlet The Athletic reported on Sept. 23.
With the summer transfer window closing on September 2, City have been scrambling to find a replacement for key midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after he went on the operating table.
Der Bruyne started City’s 2023/24 Premier League opener against Burnley on Nov. 11, a 3-0 victory thanks to Elling Holland’s multi-goal performance, but was quickly replaced by Mateo Kovacic after 23 minutes with a hamstring strain.
Der Bruyne has also recently suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to be substituted during a game. He started the UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan in June, a 1-0 victory, but was forced off after 36 minutes when he was replaced by Phil Foden with a hamstring injury.
The recurring hamstring injury meant that Der Bruyne opted to undergo surgery rather than face a prolonged absence, and was expected to be out of action for up to four months.
City were dealt a major blow at the start of the season when Der Bruyne was ruled out for the first half of the season. A self-proclaimed world-class midfielder, Der Bruyne is the heart of City’s midfield. A passer and shooter with a sharp, accurate kick, Der Bruyne has scored 96 goals and provided 153 assists in 358 appearances since joining City in 2015.
Last season was no different, with 10 goals and 31 assists in 49 appearances across all competitions. Thanks in large part to De Bruyne, City won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League last season, completing the “triple treble”.
While he is irreplaceable, City have sought to fill the void as best they can until Der Bruyne returns and have identified Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta (West Ham United) as their final target.
A versatile midfielder who can play in both the second and third positions, Paqueta grew up in Brazil’s prestigious Flamengo before moving to Italy’s AC Milan, where he exploded with talent after joining Olympique Lyonnais in 2020.
After leaving Lyon to join West Ham last season, Paqueta scored four goals and provided three assists in 28 league games and won the Europa League, but he hasn’t been the same player he was at Lyon. However, he was still hailed as an attacking talent and was expected to be a midfield ace again this season.
With De Bruyne on the table, City immediately opened talks with West Ham. According to France’s Foot Mercato, “City have made an offer of £88 million for Paqueta,” raising hopes that a deal would soon be finalized.
As the deal neared completion, there was a twist. Paqueta was being investigated by the English Football Association (FA) for betting violations. He was accused of betting large sums of money on himself receiving a yellow card in certain matches.
Professional leagues around the world, including England, strictly prohibit active soccer players and those involved in the game from directly engaging in sports betting or sharing information useful for sports betting. If a player is caught doing so, he or she can be banned for up to a year and could be out of action for months.
In May, Premier League Brentford striker Ivan Toney was handed an eight-month ban by the FA after being found to have placed 232 sports bets.
With the risk of a ban for betting, City withdrew their offer for Paqueta and looked for an alternative. Nunes, who plays for Wolverhampton alongside South Korean striker Hwang Hee-chan, came to their attention.
Nunes, a Portuguese midfielder born in 1998, has made 41 appearances for Wolverhampton since joining the club last summer. He has been a key part of Wolverhampton’s midfield and has caught the eye of Man City because of his work rate and ability to dribble forward. 스포츠토토
“City are considering a number of options to fill the void left by De Bruyne, with Portugal international Nunes at the top of their list,” The Athletic explained.
“Wolverhampton are unlikely to welcome City’s interest so close to the summer transfer deadline,” the publication adds, “but Wolverhampton’s tight finances could make a City bid for Nunes difficult to refuse.”
“Eberechi Eze, a 1998-born English midfielder who plays for Crystal Palace, is another attacking midfielder on City’s list.”
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Wolverhampton to offload another key player ahead of the transfer deadline. Wolverhampton have already seen a number of key departures this summer, including Nabil Neves (Al Hilal), Raul Jimenez, and Adama Traore (Fulham).
With so many key departures and no reinforcements, Julen Lopetegui, who took over midway through last season and rescued the club from the brink of relegation, parted ways after expressing his dissatisfaction with the club’s transfer market behavior.
As well as Nunes, Hwang Hee-chan, who scored his first goal of the season in the 1-4 Premier League defeat at Brighton in the second round of the 2023/24 season, has also been linked with German Bundesliga club Wolfsburg.