Jesus Vallejo insists he is happy to challenge Conor Coady and Willy Boly for their places at Wolves – not just Ryan Bennett.
The on-loan Real Madrid defender has played the last two Europa League games in place of Bennett on the right side of the defensive trio, but hasn’t yet made his Premier League debut. Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo has preferred Bennett for domestic games so far this season.
“I’ve been very happy in my first month. I played in a three-man defence at Real Zaragoza and Eintracht Frankfurt,” said the 22-year-old. “At Wolverhampton, I tend to play more on the right side, but I can genuinely play in any of the three defensive positions. The truth is I feel very at ease in Nuno’s system.”
Nuno’s selection over the last two years suggests that barring injuries or a loss of form, Vallejo might have to wait for his chance to replace Coady or Boly in the Premier League. Captain Coady has played 70 consecutive matches in all competitions while Boly made way for Under-23s graduate Max Kilman against Pyunik in the last Europa League trip but hasn’t missed a league game – apart from suspension – since Sunderland away in May 2018.
Wolves have an established back three under Nuno but Vallejo is confident he made the right decision to move to Molineux. Wolves were also the Bernabeu giants’ recommendation as the Spain Under-21 captain had the choice of several clubs after making just seven appearances for Real last season.
“Real Madrid strongly recommended I should come to the Premier League to improve my football,” said the defender. “It is a very competitive league with very good teams. I need to improve my level. I am here and I am very happy with my decision. I feel really wanted here. Nuno called me saying he needed me to come and help the team.”
Nuno likes what he sees and is confident Vallejo will prove a worthwhile acquisition after checking out the youngster as much as possible. “We’re delighted he joined us, he’s a fantastic boy,” said the boss. “Regarding his characteristics as a footballer, we know him, we had a lot of observation, then we try to get information on his character.
“We try to get maximum information (on potential signings) and at the same time try to be discreet, which is not easy.”
At 29 and having played in all four divisions for Grimsby, Peterborough, Norwich and Wolves, Bennett is philosophical about the need for a squad. He is used to fighting for his place and expects the extra competition.
“It’s nothing to do with me – if they’re going to bring players in they’re going to bring players in,” he said. “The club is going in an upward direction, it’s not going to be just me, it’s in every position. I’m 29, I’ve been around since teams were doing that in League Two, it’s what they look to do.”