For all of our greater attacking threat this season, the one area where we’ve sorely lacked some real quality has been from the wingers. With Rafa Benitez favouring a back-five, it’s been left to the likes of Matt Ritchie and Javier Manquillo to offer us some width and cutting edge from out wide.
But with Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez showing how devastating they can be linking up with Salomon Rondon through the middle, a change to a back four to help get the best out of our attacking players might be something Benitez considers. And whilst Ritchie and Christian Atsu in the closing stages of the season showed they have a lot to offer, a move for Derby’s Harry Wilson could be a huge step-up in quality.
According to Sky Sports, the Liverpool loanee is interesting a number of clubs in the Premier League, including ourselves, Southampton and Brighton. According to the report, Jurgen Klopp’s side could demand up to £25m for the 22-year-old, and that Crystal Palace could potentially join the race based on how things turn out with Wilfried Zaha. Whilst the other clubs linked with Wilson are by no means far beneath us, we should surely consider ourselves frontrunners for Wilson’s signature at the moment. With Benitez in charge, the Welshman would be under the right manager to continue to grow as a footballer, and would surely relish the prospect of playing regular football in the top-flight.
Under Frank Lampard’s guidance in the Championship, Wilson enjoyed an impressive campaign, particularly in terms of what he has done in front of goal. His 18 goals and six assists helped the Rams to the play-off finals, and despite failing to get the side over the line, the Welsh wizard was one of the stars of the show in Derby’s performances this season.
With an average of 2.5 shots per game (per Whoscored), Wilson more than doubled what Ritchie managed (1.1), albeit with the Scotsman operating from that wing-back role. Compared to Atsu (0.6 per game), who has predominantly featured from a more advanced position, Wilson again favours far better. It all points to someone who is willing to take risks in the final third and embrace the responsibility, the kind of player who would dovetail well with Almiron and Perez.
At 22, the winger has so much time on his hands, and has room to get even better. With Atsu at 27 and Ritchie turning 30 later this year, Wilson could be the future on the flanks for the next few seasons at the least.