Nuno Espirito Santo believes Patrick Cutrone will more than punch his weight for Wolves – because he is a fighter.
The 21-year-old striker will cost the club up to £20m from AC Milan and has been backed by fans, who have come up with their ‘pizza and pasta’ song for the Italian.
Cutrone has scored just once in 14 appearances for Wolves so far, featuring seven times in the Premier League, six in Europe and once in the Carabao Cup.
His only strike came in the 5-2 home defeat to Chelsea, but only five of those games have been starts.
Cutrone has had to play second fiddle to Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota when Nuno has played a 3-5-2 formation.
When Nuno has switched to 3-4-3, Cutrone was behind Jimenez, Pedro Neto and Adama Traore in the 2-0 win against Watford, behind Jimenez, Neto and Morgan Gibbs-White in the 1-0 win at Besiktas and behind Jimenez, Jota and Traore in the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
But Nuno is convinced the youngster has the battling qualities to be a success in the long term.
“His characteristics, he’s a fighter, and we appreciate it,” said the head coach. “He’s been working very well for the team.
“He’s a player that brings a lot of energy when he goes on the pitch.
“You have to take advantage of it while expecting him to improve – to keep growing as a player.”
Cutrone returns to Wolves after two appearances for Italy Under-21s over the last week.
He played the full game as they beat Armenia 1-0 away on Monday evening when Moise Kean and Sandro Tonali made way.
The Wolves striker led the line for the Under-21s, who were without Everton striker Kean following his red card in the 0-0 away draw to the Republic of Ireland last week.
In that game, Cutrone was a half-time substitute for Inter striker Andrea Pinamonti, who is on loan at Genoa.
Against Armenia, Cutrone also had a chance to stake his claim as the Azzurri’s default number nine, with Pinamonti dropping to the bench.
But it was Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca’s 20th-minute strike that earned Italy victory to continue their unbeaten run under Paolo Nicolato.
Tonali was promoted to the senior squad so Crotone’s Nicolo Zanellato was drafted into midfield.
Italy had eight attempts on target compared to Armenia’s paltry two but had just one goal to show for their efforts as Scamacca’s strike partners Cutrone and Riccardo Sottil failed to make their mark.
Vahan Bichakhchyan also hit the bar late on for the hosts, leaving Nicolato to rue the condition of his players.
“We were willing in our approach, but the team weren’t good physically,” said the coach.
“We had many chances throughout, but if you don’t take them, then you risk your opponents equalising.
“We improved with respect to the last game, but we lacked the right condition. The lads weren’t brilliant, but we overcame a difficult trip. It wasn’t easy.”