Wolves duo head to Grasshoppers

Wolves duo Nigel Lonwijk and Theo Corbeanu have joined Grasshopper Club Zurich on loan for the 2023/24 season.

The duo spent the last campaign gaining experience out on loan in the English Football League and overseas, and now head to Switzerland in a bid to continue their development.

The move for Lonwijk comes after a successful spell at Plymouth Argyle, where he made 41 appearances in all competition and helped the Pilgrims earn promotion to the Championship by winning the League One title.

The 20-year-old, who joined Wolves in January 2020, previously spent time on loan in the Eredivisie with Fortuna Sittard and signed a new contract at Molineux before his temporary switch to Home Park last summer.

The central defender, who impressed at under-21 level, previously featured three times on the Wolves first-team bench and will gain valuable experience in a third different league with Grasshoppers.

Pathways manager Steve Davis said: “The Plymouth loan went very well for Nigel. For a centre back at that age, it’s very brave of a manager to play you in key games, when you’re trying to win the league, and he played games in a winning team at the top, which is a different kind of pressure. He was very consistent across all positions in a back three, so his development has been exceptional, but he knows he’s got a lot of things to develop.

“He first came when I was with the under-18s and he was very slight and needed a lot of work physically. He could do outstanding things, but also make mistakes, but he’s grown and tightened his game. He’s become more reliable and consistent and looks the part. League One can be physical, but he coped with the aerial battles and he’s a good athlete, and now he needs a new test.

“He’s going to a top league – a high standard, with quality stadiums and support – and Matt Jackson can manage him and his development. Nigel’s still young, growing and learning, so this is another opportunity in Europe to kick on. I’ve watched Grasshoppers play and they play good football, and I’m sure he’ll improve them further.”

Corbeanu has spent time out on loan on four occasions, with last season providing new challenges at Blackpool and Arminia Bielefeld, after he caught the eye in League One with Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons.

At Blackpool, the Canadian was given his first taste of Championship football, however a mid-season switch to the second tier of German football with Arminia concluded with relegation via the play-offs.

Across the two spells during the 2022/23 season, the 21-year-old made 33 appearances and scored three goals, but opportunities during his time in Germany came primarily from the substitute’s bench.

Having made his senior Wolves debut at Tottenham Hotspur in May 2021, Corbeanu will now look to kick on in Switzerland, where he and Lonwijk will link up with president Matt Jackson, who they worked closely with at Wolves.

Davis said: “With loans, not all will be successful – you can not play, or get injured, for example. Theo’s last loan opened his eyes a bit, not playing regularly, having to fight for his place, training well and not getting opportunities, and understanding that – having conversations with staff, finding out how to improve. That’s realism and it’s important you bounce back from certain situations, and he’ll hope to show what he can really do, like in his previous loans.

“He needs to find a level of consistency now and produce those performances week in, week out. I spoke to him, and you could see the frustration in his face – he’ll understand how hard it is. In the end, it’s the manager picking the team, and Theo will be stronger for the experience.

“I think he’s got a lot to give, particularly going forward, he’ll create opportunities. He needs to learn more about the team out of possession, to become better within the 11. We have a support team around the player, and whatever their needs, we try to meet them, so we’ll analyse his game and conversations will take place on a regular basis.

“It’s a good standard and there are people watching Swiss games. We want them to do well for the club, and push for our first-team, but if not we want them to play at the highest level they possible can, so we hope the loans will be successful for Nigel and Theo.”