Dendoncker makes Wolves departure

Leander Dendoncker’s time with Wolves has come to an end, with the Belgian signing for fellow Premier League side Aston Villa on a permanent basis.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a four-year stint at Molineux, where his committed performances in a variety of positions have made him an important component to the club’s success since returning to the Premier League in 2018.

Wolves first offered the midfielder his route into the English game that summer, when he signed on loan with an obligation to buy from his debut club Anderlecht, and his impact ensured the permanent move would have been inevitable regardless.

Signed into a settled squad by Nuno Espirito Santo, Dendoncker’s Wolves journey was a slow burner, but a substitute appearance in the club’s watershed victory over Chelsea in December 2018 showed an important role laid ahead for the midfielder.

A formation change, as Wolves adapted to the top flight, worked to the Belgian’s advantage that winter. A third midfield role alongside Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, required to add energy, break up attacks and support attacks, was ready made for the selfless Belgian.

The wait for a first Wolves goal was then ended with an emphatic volley at Goodison Park, while his second Wolves strike, in front of the South Bank against Fulham, was worth its weight in gold, as it all but secured Europa League qualification for the following year.

Dendoncker’s versatility made him invaluable during a hectic 2019/20 season. His 57 performances came in both midfield and central defence, including in Europe, where he flourished and crucially scored against Torino as Wolves progressed to the group stages.

Six goals across the campaign were a season high, with his tidy lockdown finish at future club Villa the pick of the lot, but it was his work away from the goalmouth which at times went unnoticed, but not by his teammates and coaching staff, who always held Dendoncker in such high regard.

Always called up for international duty while part of the park, Dendoncker was seldom unavailable for selection, and that option was taken so regularly by Nuno that his midfielder quickly hit 100 Wolves appearance against Chorley in a classic FA Cup tie in January 2021.

A change of head coach did little to alter his importance to Wolves last season under Bruno Lage, who utilised the midfielder on 32 occasions, and watched him bag on an enjoyable afternoon at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in February.

While the end was nigh, Dendoncker remained involved this term, and conducted himself with the highest level of professionalism and passion for the badge, but that period now comes to an end, with the midfielder making a deadline day departure in search of a new challenge.