·1 October 2022
·1 October 2022
Portuguese star Gonçalo Guedes has been speaking to English outlet Sky Sports during the recent international break, as he continues his adaptation to the Premier League with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Guedes joined Wolves late in the summer window after five seasons in Spain with Valencia, linking up with his former Benfica academy coach Bruno Lage at Molineux. A quiet start to life in the midlands saw Guedes left out of Portugal’s latest squad, but the 25-year-old is in positive spirits as he reflects on the status of his career.
While many were aware that Guedes played under Lage in Benfica’s academy, the Seleção man reveals the nature of the pair’s bond has always been strong and was a key factor in his move to England. Guedes told Sky Sports of an occasion, during his teens while a trip to Spain, that Lage convinced the youngster to adopt a mohawk hairstyle, much to the amusement of his teammates.
“I was 14 or 15 but I had been moved up a year, so I was the youngest in the group,” Guedes recalls. “I was a bit young and crazy. I joked with the manager a lot. After that, we always had a good relationship.
“When I was young, the míster had already won a lot of championships at youth level with Benfica. He also coached my brother, who was a goalkeeper, two years older than me. So, I was aware of him from then onwards.
“I think the career he has had shows his level. He has obviously done really well and reached the Premier League. I am very happy to be here and I hope to learn a lot from him.”
Quick to settle
Teacher and student were reunited in August when Wolves paid Valencia €32m plus add-ons to bring the winger to England. Adaptation has been made easier by the vast contingent of Portuguese players and staff at the club, which Guedes admits helped him settle as he reflects on his first couple of months in new surroundings.
“That side of it has been very easy," he says. "Of course, it helps that there are so many Portuguese players. They told me the Premier League is a completely different league to the others. I think everyone who understands and watches football can see that it is the strongest league in the world.
“That was the main motivation, to play in the Premier League, to be in great stadiums where the stands are always full, home and away. It is just a completely different atmosphere.
“The people are…well, in Spain and Portugal, they are all about ’football, football, football’, and don’t respect the players as much. Here, though, we can walk in the street and, of course, people know who we are. But if we are with friends or family, they respect that. They continue supporting us, too, even when we are losing.
“The change in intensity is very big”
“The mister wants me to be able to contribute as much as possible offensively, to have the ball, to make us play, to receive it inside, to receive it outside, all of these things. But above all, and something I have to improve a lot, is that when I lose the ball, I get it back quickly. I am trying to change a few things so I am able to attack and defend with the same intensity.
"The change in intensity is very big in the Premier League. In Spain, you can lose the ball and not be punished, because usually the opposition won’t transition forward very quickly.
“But here, in the Premier League, when you lose it, all the teams want to move it forward as quickly as possible in order to exploit the spaces that are available and have a better chance of scoring.
“It means what you do when you lose the ball is much more important.
“To be here, playing in the Premier League, is something I have always wanted and I am enjoying it a lot. Even the weather? I just put on a jacket. I am pleased with my decision.”
Things are yet to take off this season both for Guedes and the team, with Wolves sitting 17th having won just one of their seven matches so far. The Portuguese has registered one assist from his six appearances, but believes the team have been unlucky not to have gained more points across their fixtures.
“I think the team deserves a lot more than it has got. We have played very well in some games and had a lot of chances; we just haven’t taken them. This comes with work, with education, with believing in what the míster is telling us to do.
“I am sure things will improve and the wins will come. Then, when things are better collectively, the individuals can show their best selves as well, and that is what we want.”
World Cup aim
Guedes has stayed in England during the recent international break, having missed out on a place in Fernando Santos’ squad for the matches against Czech Republic and Spain. However, the extra time spent familiarising himself in his new home has been beneficial.
“The last two weeks have been really good for my adaptation,” Guedes said. “I needed that time to train with the team and better understand our way of playing. I feel better now. I know very well what I have to do.
“I have improved a lot and I have got used to the way we train, the intensity and all these things.
“Of course, going with the national team is a huge source of pride. But I also understand there are a lot of players to choose from.
“I have to accept the coach’s decision and work hard to win back my place for the World Cup.”
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