On July 4th, Wolves announced the signing of Francisco Trincão from Barcelona on a one-year loan with a £25M purchase option. The transfer seemed to materialize from thin air; no rumors had linked player and club, and even many diehard Wolves supporters were caught off-guard.
So the sudden nature of the deal leaves us with some catching up to do. Let’s dive into Trincão’s history, and then see if we can sort out what his arrival at the Molineux could mean both for Wolves and for fantasy managers.
Who is Trincão?
Born Francisco António Machado Mota de Castro Trincão, it’s not difficult to understand why the 21 year-old Portuguese is known simply as “Trincão.” As a youth, he played for local club Vianense, later spending time at Porto before landing at Braga. He made his debut for Braga’s first team just days shy of his 19th birthday, scoring his first goal and providing an assist a year later in a Europa League group stage match. His first league start followed just a few days later, and he scored yet again.
At the end of January 2020, he signed a five-year, €31M contract with FC Barcelona effective that July; the deal included a €500M buyout clause. But despite Barca’s high opinion of his potential, the 21 year-old right-winger has had trouble breaking into the starting lineup. Why? Well, it could have a little something to do with the fact that Barca already has a right-winger named Lionel Messi.
In fairness though, much had to do with Ronald Koeman’s appointment as Blaugranes manager, and the new gaffer’s switch of formation to a 3-5-2/3-4-2-1. The change rendered Trincão incompatible, relegating him to the periphery of the squad. And with this summer’s arrivals of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay at the Camp Nou, Trincão is now surplus.
So a loan move to Wolverhampton seems to make good sense. The 21 year-old can compete for starts against the likes of Adama Traore and Daniel Podence instead of some of the biggest names in world football.
How Will Trincão Fit In At Wolves?
A left-footed right winger, Trincão enjoys one-v-ones and cutting inside to his strong foot. According to Scott Sellars, Wolves’ Technical Director, Trincão is “a player who drifts past people and he has a great change of direction when he’s moving with the ball. He has great speed over two or three yards, to change direction and get away from people, can score and create, and is an exciting player.”
Here’s a primer on what Trincão brings to the Molineux:
While he is adept at driving upfield with the ball, end-product is an area where the young player still needs improvement. In 1,309 minutes of pitch time across all competitions last season, Trincão scored only three goals and made just two assists. Even during his breakout 2019-20 season with Braga, when he logged a total of 2,266 minutes, he scored only nine times.
Nonetheless, these stats compare favorably to those of Daniel Podence and Adama Traoré, Trincão’s direct competitors for starts on the right wing. Trincão’s strike rate in his 2019-20 season with Braga was one goal per 201 minutes, and it was one per 228 minutes with Barcelona last season. His lifetime average is one per 344 minutes. In contrast, Podence’s lifetime average is one per 532 minutes, consistent with his strike rate of one per 559 in the Prem last season. Traoré’s numbers are even worse: one per 1,322 minutes in the EPL last season, and one per 671 over his career.
With Podence still recovering from groin surgery and not expected to return to training until next month, at least for the season’s early weeks it seems the only obstacle standing between Trincão and a starting berth on the right wing will be Traoré. However, the Portuguese can play anywhere across the front, including on the left and centrally. That enhances his prospects for starts and minutes, since left-winger Pedro Neto still faces months on the sidelines with a fractured patella. Trincão could even step in to deputize for Raul Jiménez if necessary.
As his stats reveal, Trincão has not been a prolific goal-scorer or assist-producer. But his strike rate is better than any of Wolves’ current wingers (Neto’s career strike rate is one per 453 minutes, and he produced one every 512 minutes in the Prem last season). And with Jiménez now fully-recovered from his skull fracture, we should expect Wolves to be better than they were last season at converting service from the wings into assists.
On offer for £6.0M in FPL, Trincão is the same price as Traoré, while Podence is £0.5M cheaper and Neto is £0.5M more. In that platform he probably represents better value than the others.
Fantrax hasn’t opened shop for the 2021-22 campaign yet, but as a new-boy player he’ll begin with default pricing and then probably crash to the GW-2 minimum. I think that will make him an option worth considering, particularly because that platform’s more comprehensive scoring system will reward him for doing more than just scoring and assisting (for example, he is probably going to get fouled a lot).
I would offer only two caveats about his fantasy value. First, Wolves don’t have the best set of initial fixtures, traveling first to Leicester before hosting Tottenham and Man United. My second concern is the one we always have with players who are joining the Prem from the continent: their ability to adapt to the pace and physicality of England’s top-flight. For both of these reasons, it may be wise to monitor the player for the first few weeks before jumping in.
But although Nuno Espirito Santo has left, he was replaced by his compatriot Bruno Lage, so we still have a Portuguese manager at the Molineux. And because of the former gaffer’s close relationship with Jorge Mendes and the Gestifute agency, Wolves’ roster is stacked with Portuguese internationals. Indeed, Trincão has played with six current Wolves players while serving on national duty for Portugal. That familiarity will buffer the culture shock of moving from Catalonia to the West Midlands, easing integration into his new side.
My advice on Trincão, then, is to reevaluate him after GW-3. By then we should know whether he has secured a starting role somewhere in Lage’s front line, and that’s when Wolves begin a juicy run of fixtures starting in GW-4: Watford (A), Brentford (H), Southampton (A), Newcastle (H), Aston Villa (A), Leeds (A), Everton (H), and Crystal Palace (A).
Until then, play it safe with proven alternatives, such as Jack Harrison or Tomas Soucek, or spend £0.5M more for assets such as Raphinha, James Ward-Prowse, Bukayo Saka, or Jarrod Bowen.
Statistics, quotes, and information for this article were sourced from bbc.com, espn.com, barcablaugranes.com, premierinjuries.com, skysports.com, wikipedia.com, transfermrkt.com, and theathletic.com.
Do you think Trincão will win a starting role at Wolves? Does he interest you as a fantasy asset? Will you jump on him from the get-go, or monitor him first? Please take our poll, and then share your thoughts in the comments.
Is Trincão an attractive fantasy asset?
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Yes. He’s going straight into my team.
Maybe. I’ll wait and see.