Leo Bonatini seems delighted to join Wolves.
The Brazilian striker is back in European football after spending one year in Saudi Arabia, and now faces one of the biggest challenges of his career… promotion to the Premier League.
The 23-year-old, who previously played for Portuguese side Estoril, is now meeting several of his former opponents in the Wolves’ squad, due to the heavy investment the club has made in signing players from Portugal.
Bonatini has signed on a one year loan, and the Wolves will have the option to buy him at the end of the season for a €5m fee.
Sport Witness had the chance to speak to the player as he arrived at Wolves, and asked a few questions about the move to England and Bonatini’s objectives for the coming season.
Wolves have an interesting project, with some surprising signings for a second division team. Is it exciting to join the club at this stage?
Certainly, it’s great to be part of a club like this, which has been making investment. I was surprised by the club’s facilities, by all the staff, the players that were here, the players who arrived in this transfer window. It’s clear the effort that Wolves have done to set up a solid team to get access to the Premier League. And if all goes well, win the title too… So I’m happy to be part of this project, to be one of the players who the club trust. I hope it will be a good season for all of us and that in the end we are celebrating access to the Premier League.
You’re arriving at a club that has several Portuguese, including the manager. How much will this help your adaptation? How is your English, by the way?
Yes, I already speak English. I’ve been speaking since a younger age, and when I was in Arabia I was able to improve further. It’s something that will help me talk to the players that are from here. But it sure is good to speak your own language, to come here and speak Portuguese. There’s a few players I’ve played against, so it makes it a lot easier to ask, have a clue about the city, how the club works and everything. But not only Portuguese, the English players and other nationalities that are part of the squad also welcomed me very well, they showed the willingness to be able to help me with regard to any problem, any doubt, any help, so I already felt at home.
You scored 15 goals last season, more than any Wolves player. Can the fans already hope you’re their ‘goal man’ this year?
Look, I think I’ve been signed to help, to get here and help Wolverhampton to make a great season. Nuno’s style of play is a style very similar to the one I like to play. It’s the first opportunity I’m having to work with him but I’ve been following him on other occasions. I think the goals will come naturally, the most important things is that the team can win, that we can reach the end of the season with the objectives completed, which is access to the first division. And then if we can talk about the title, we will definitely fight until the end.
Championship football is known to be physically very hard, and the league has a longer list of fixtures. For those who don’t know what condition you’re in, are you ready to play?
Yes, I’m ready to go on the pitch. I was in preseason in Austria with Al-Hilal, I made a part of the preseason with them there. I got here, I did some training with the team, I did all the medical exams. So it’s Nuno’s choice, I also have to respect, get my space. I am here to help. If I have to play in the league debut, I’m sure I’ll do my best to get on the pitch and honour the Wolves shirt.
Do you see the Championship as a showcase for big English clubs to get to know you for the future?
Yeah, the Championship, I think I’ve said it a few times, is the second division by name only. Because the structure that clubs have, which the league has, is a structure that many major league’s clubs sometimes don’t have. So it is a place where it is a very competitive league, a difficult league, a league in which there are several traditional teams, so it is a great opportunity. But I’m not thinking of it as a showcase, I’m thinking of playing and helping Wolves, staying here for next season, and having a great season in the Premier League if we can get promotion. As I said, the goals will come naturally, I came to help, I came to play and to be happy too. So I am really excited about the project and I hope it works out.