Talking Points | Five more years of Kilman

Maximilian Kilman has been one of the breakthrough players of 2021/22 and with a new long-term contract tying him down to the club until 2026, has looked at some of the key talking points around the defender’s deal.

#1 Just reward for an impressive campaign

It’s been a whirlwind few seasons for the 24-year-old. Having joined Wolves as an under-23 player back in the summer of 2018 from non-league Maidenhead United, not many people would have predicted the unbelievable rise of Kilman. Having won the Premier League 2 Division 2 title in his first season with the Wolves development side, he was quickly promoted to first-team, and hasn’t looked back.

Although he was in and out of the team during his last two years, the arrival of Bruno Lage has given Kilman a new lease of life. The only player in the Wolves squad to have started every game under the head coach, Kilman has repaid the faith shown in him by putting in several impressive showings. With the exception being the defeat to Brentford in mid-September, the defender has been consistently imposing, a rock at the back while using the skills he developed as an England futsal player to his benefit, to carry the ball out to get attacks underway.

Despite having signed a contract until 2025 last October, the displays Kilman has provided this campaign has seen his reputation skyrocket and a new, extended deal has been just rewards.

#2 Already an award winner

As a picture of consistency this season, Kilman has been able to find the perfect blend of dominant defending and composure on the ball, regularly halting opposition attacks and sparking fresh ones for Wolves. Kilman’s statistics this campaign have been something to behold, being the only player in the top three of Wolves’ tackles attempted, interceptions, clearances, blocks, attempted passes, pass completion percentage, aerial duels won and even goals.

Those reliable performances have seen Kilman receive plenty of appreciation from both outside and inside the club, with the defender nominated for every ‘Castore Player of the Month’ award since its inception at the start of the season. His displays in August saw him pick up the inaugural honour, while his chances of making it four nominations from four when November’s award comes along were not dented on Monday night, as he impressively put Wolves ahead against Everton by notching his first ever goal in gold and black. Many would agree that Kilman has been the best players in a Wolves shirt this term.

#3 “I don’t think he knows how good he can be”

Much has been made of Kilman’s outings from the local and national press in recent months, with the defender being brought up regularly in Bruno Lage’s press conferences. Although he was always a solid pair of hands at the back, Kilman has taken his game to a new level under the Portuguese’s leadership, comfortably breaking the run of six consecutive starts he made at the end of last season with outings in all 12 of Wolves’ matches this campaign.

Kilman was a late starter to life at the professional level due to spending his early career split between non-league football and futsal, and his development has been clear to see for all gold and black supporters in the last three seasons, and if he was to continue his progression at a similar rate, the sky could be the limit for the defender, well, that’s the opinion of Lage. Asked by The Athletic’s Tim Spiers in last Friday’s pre-match Zoom call as to whether Kilman knows how good he can be, the head coach replied: “That’s a good question, I really don’t know if he knows how good he can be. If he works hard, he can arrive at a good level.”

#4 Is an England cap on the horizon?

As with any English Premier League footballer who consistently performs at the highest level with their club, the inevitable talk surrounding a call-up to the national team is always going to follow. That has been the case with Kilman in the past two seasons, but his form this campaign has brought him to the wider attention of football supporters up and down the country. Although international football is not currently on his mind – as he told journalists when it was brought up in interviews earlier this season – the speculation is going to continue ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The rumours of an England call-up were made even stronger on Monday evening as manager Gareth Southgate was present inside Molineux to watch the victory over Everton. With plenty of English talent on display, Kilman was one who once again stepped up to the mark, as he leapt highest in the opposition penalty area from a Rayan Ait-Nouri corner to head his first goal for Wolves to set his team on their way to three points, while making several key tackles and blocks at the other end of the pitch to deny Demarai Gray. Although he missed out on the chance of earning his first cap in the upcoming November international break having not been named in the squad, if he was to eventually join captain Conor Coady by wearing the Three Lions, Kilman would become the first player in history to represent England in both football and futsal…