There have been a fair few changes at Hillsborough over the last few weeks, and aside from the fact that we have a new scoreboard, a new pitch and a new manager, we’ve also splashed a bit of cash on bringing in some new players too.
It’s quite a strange feeling for me to see us spending actual real money on buying players. For years I’ve seen us bring in guys on one or three-month loans only to lose them again, but thankfully that now seems to be changing.
I think I’m more optimistic about this season than I have been since I was a kid, and I reckon that’s largely due to some of the hype surrounding some of the most recently acquired Owls.
Marco MatiasMatias, 26, is probably the most exciting of all the players that we’ve signed. The Portuguese winger grabbed 17 goals in the Primeira Liga last season, finishing as the highest scoring local in the division and contributing to 37% of all Nacional’s league goals.
I’ve got friends in Portugal, plus a mate of mine actually just signed for Nacional, and they’ve been absolutely raving about Matias over there. Apparently he was immense last season and could be a real bit of talent for us.
He actually turned down moves to some top leagues before signing for us, and we could have a very good Championship player on our hands here. He likes a dribble, has a lovely first touch and can cross and finish. Sounds like just the ticket!
Ross Wallace Wallace is a solid campaigner in English football, and could well prove to be a handy acquisition over the course of the new season. I’m not sure he’ll make as much of an impact as Matias, however his mentality and experience at this level may be vital.
Carlos Carvalhal has said that he wants tough British players as part of his Wednesday team this year, and Wallace will bring just that. He can swing in some nice crosses, pick a pass and has just under 30 Championship goals to his name. Defensively he’s not too great, but hopefully he won’t be doing much of that!
Jack HuntHunt comes in as a 24-year-old full back with over 15,000 hours of senior football to his name, despite his young age, and has played over 80 games at Championship level over the last three seasons.
He averaged about 1.8 tackles a game last season, had a pass success rate of 65.5% and seems quite confident in taking people on. However, stats show that he does like to go long quite regularly and isn’t too strong in the air.
The defender will provide some nice competition for Marnick Vermijl at right-back, and hopefully it can bring out the best in both of them.
Lopez has a wealth of experience from his time at Celta Vigo, and is used to playing lots of games in a season having 28+ games in all of his last five campaigns, three of which have been in La Liga.
For a centre midfielder his passing stats aren’t too shabby, with the 27-year-old having an overall pass success rate of around 87% last season, completing 504 of his 564 short passes.
Sadly he only got 1122 minutes in La Liga last season, so it wasn’t his most prolific year, but taking a bit of a step down to the Championship should be to Wednesday’s benefit.
The nicest things about McGugan are that, firstly, we know what he can do, and secondly, he’s signed on a permanent basis. It’s nice to know that this loan won’t be coming to an end! And all for £300,000 too. A right bargain if you ask me.
McGugan, 26, is incredibly versatile and can play practically anywhere across the midfield if needed. His creativity, desire to have a crack and set-piece ability could all be vital for us in 2015/16.
He averaged 2.1 tackles and 0.8 interceptions per game last season for us, also managing to make 1.4 key passes per 90 minutes. I’d like to see him improve on his three goals and three assists, but with him properly settled I think that that’s a real possibility.
25-year-old Lachman comes with an interesting background. A coaching friend of mine in Holland recently said to me that Lachman could be better than Jaap Stam, but said. “Stam was a smart, intelligent player, and strong. Lachman has more body and technical skills, but lesser brains.”
Lachman averaged 2.2 interceptions and 1.2 tackles per 90 minutes last season, making 3.3 clearances per game during his 15 Eredivisie appearances in 2014/15.
It appears that Lachman could be a bit of a risk, one that could definitely pay off, but could also backfire. He once asked for time off training at FC Twente so he could walk his dog.
However, a friend of mine who plays for Twente actually said to be that he’s a very talented player, and that’s coming from someone with a tremendous football brain. So I’m going to remain optimistic.
Braga paid about £500,000 for Sasso in 2013 but he’s yet to play more than seven league games in a season, however he did grab a couple of assists in his five games in 2014/15 and obviously has a little bit about him.
It’ll be interest how much game time Sasso actually gets at Hillsborough, and how well he settles in the English game, fingers crossed that he’ll have a solid role to play.
Price is a bit of journeyman goalkeeper that has had nine clubs since 2003, and to be honest I think most Wednesdayites will be hoping that we don’t see too much of him. Kieren Westwood was absolutely immense last year, and hopefully he’ll be between the sticks more often than not.
That being said, the 30-year-old does have a bit of international experience and as long as he’s happy playing second fiddle to Westwood of the majority of the season then I’m not too worried.
Lucas JoãoJoão could well be a very exciting little prospect for us this season. Actually, I say little but he’s not really little at all. The six foot three Angolan-born Portuguese youth international is big, strong and at 21 still has a lot of room for growth.
He grabbed six goals in 24 starts for Nacional last season, and from what I’m told he had a very productive partnership with fellow newbie, Matias. Also, aside from his goals, the striker also got nine assists in all competitions, so he obvously creates a little bit too.
While he hasn’t played for Portugal’s senior team yet, he was called up back in March and hopefully while with us he can push himself even closer to his Portugal debut after playing for both their U20s and U21s.
Wiggins joined as the 10th signing for Wednesday and he comes on board as an experienced left full back with plenty of professional games under his belt. He’s also represented Wales at U17, U19 and U21 level.
The 27-year-old played a pivotal role in Charlton’s 2011/12 promotion campaign from League One, even making his way into the PFA’s Team of the Year for his efforts that season.
This fella likes to get stuck in and is known for his well-timed tackles and blocks, however is passing is something that needs to be improved upon. Last season he averaged 2.4 successful tackles per game for his side as well as 1.4 interceptions. But as I say, his average of 70.2% and 67.4% pass completion over the last two seasons needs improving. His tally of just one league assist also needs to be added to.
Fun fact… Only four Championship fullbacks blocked more crosses than Wiggins (40) in 2014/15.
Having played in Senegal, Portugal, Romania and France, Sougou is not short of experience around Europe, especially given that he made his debut in Europe around a decade ago at the age of 20.
Last season while playing for Evian in Ligue 1, the attacking midfielder grabbed himself two goals and three assists from nine starts, however he was mostly used as a substitute by the French team as he racked up 1132 minutes of football.
The 30-year-old has played for Senegal, however his international game time has been limited and he hasn’t played since featuring briefly in their 2014 World Cup qualification two years ago.
Sougou, who is a practising Muslim and therefore will be fasting in June/July next year, averaged 0.9 key passes per 90 minutes in 2014/15 and was used either as a right midfielder, right-winger or out-and-out striker throughout the course of the season.
The 31-year-old played nearly 3000 minutes of league football for Norwich and Fulham last season, averaging 1.5 successful tackles per game, 3.1 interceptions and 6.8 clearances.
He spent seven seasons in the Premier League after helping Hull City to promotion in 2007/08 and also had plenty of time in the lower league trenches before making it in the big leagues.
A little known fact about Turner is that he spent some time on an apprenticeship with Inter Milan as a youngster during his days with Charlton Athletic’s academy.
Pudil, a 29-year-old Czech left-sider, has the nice reputation of being able to play at both left back and left wing, and will no doubt be a welcome addition to a Wednesday side seemingly lacking a bit of creativity.
I spoke with a friend of mine, Anele Ngcongca, who is a former Genk teammate of the Watford man, and Anele told me that he had some really good times with Pudil in Belgium, and that he has unbelievable stamina. Ask any Watford fan about him and they’ll say the same. Lots of people have a lot of respect for this man.
While hasn’t offered much in the goalscoring department recently (three goals in three seasons), he averaged 35 passes per game last season, as well as making two successful tackles per match. Another good feature of the player is that he very rarely is dispossessed (0.3 times per game on average last year) and only 0.4 unsuccessful touches on average.
Having played in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy and England, Pudil brings a wealth of experience to Hillsborough, and hopefully he’ll be able to make a name for himself in Sheffield.
Forestieri became signing number 14 of the season for Wednesday, and the most exciting news is that it is a permanent deal and not a loan. The 25-year-old has scored more goals v Owls (3) than any other club since his move from in 2012, so it’ll be good to have him in blue and white now.
The attacker has 20 goals in his last three seasons in England for Watford and managed to grab five goals and four assists in his 10 stars for the Hornets in 2014/15, averaging 0.9 key passes per game. He averaged a shot every 20 minutes last season and is defintely a box player, with most of his goals coming from inside the penalty area.
Forestieri directly contributed to 42 league goals (20 goals, 22 assists) in 4620 minutes over the last three seasons… That’s a goal or assist every 110 minutes, and a goal every 231 minutes.
Known for his close control, Forestieri represented Italy at every youth level from U17s up to U21s despite being born in Argentina, and Wednesdayites will be hoping that he’ll make good on his reported fee of around £3m.
He did get Bakary Sako sent off with some shameful playacting not so long ago though, so I hope he doesn’t bring that nonsense to Hillsborough with him.
The 25-year-old has a lot of experience for a player of his age, having made his Premier League debut back in 2010 and gone onto play 86 games in England’s top-flight for Aston Villa and Palace before his loan move to Bolton Wanderers last season.
While at Bolton the versatile midfield man managed to grab three assists in his 16 games but, as in other seasons, didn’t find the back of the net. He’s only scored two league goals since his debut in 2010.
However, Bannan did average 2.5 tackles, 2.4 interceptions and 2.7 key passes per game with Bolton and will certainly bring something to the Wednesday midfield.
His spell with the Trotters also saw him produce his best passing performance of his career, with his 2.7 key passes per game being complimented by his 82.3% pass completion in the Championship. He made 43 key passes in 1374 minutes, that’s one key pass every 32 minutes. Not bad.
Gary Hooper joined Wednesday on October 27th, just under a month before the English loan window comes to a close, with the Norwich City man signing on until January 17th.
A prolific goalscorer, albeit partly in Scotland, the former Celtic man has scored 20+ goals in five of his last seven seasons, and over 25 in two of those. Last year, despite only making 16 league starts, he picked up 12 goals and six assists for the Canaries.
While he’s not the sort of striker who will pepper the opposition’s goal, he average 0.9 shots per game last season, he is clinical. The 27-year-old converted 40% of his shots in the league last season, scoring 12 from 30 shots.
Bennett, who turns 26 in March, made a name for himself in the Championship with Middlesbrough between 2008 and 2012 before making a move to Aston Villa for about £2.75m and playing 25 games in his first season at Villa Park.
However, since the end of the 2012/13 season he’s only played five Premier League games and spent the 2014/15 at Brighton & Hove Albion where he played 41 games, scored once and bagged three assists. He started this season with Bournemouth in the top-flight but left in December to recover from an Achilles injury.
At Brighton, his last real stint, Bennett completed 2.3 tackles on average per game, 0.5 crosses and made 38 key passes in his 41 league matches. Defensively he made 103 interceptions and 110 clearances.