Bellegarde signs on deadline day

Wolves have added former French youth international Jean-Ricner Bellegarde to their ranks on a five-year deal after moving from Ligue 1 club Strasbourg.

The pacey 25-year-old arrives at Molineux off the back of his most impressive year to date, which has seen Bellegarde begin the 2023/24 season with two goals and two assists from his opening three matches.

Despite his relatively young age, Bellegarde – who can play either as a central midfielder supporting the forwards or in one of the two wider positions, has a wealth of experience under his belt, having made almost 250 appearances during a career which has also seen him play for Le Racing Club de Lens.

Born in Parisian suburb Colombes, Bellegarde began his career with Lens as a 15-year-old, joining the club’s youth side in 2013 before making his B team debut in the Championnat National two years later. After spells with the senior side, which included more than 50 outings in the second tier of French football, he made the move to Strasbourg, where he has spent the last four years.

During his time at the Alsace-based club, Bellegarde played almost 130 times in the French top flight, becoming a regular in the Strasbourg midfield, as well as featuring in the 2019/20 Europa League, where his team missed out on a spot in the group stages following defeat in the play-off round to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bellegarde has developed with each passing season, with the 2022/23 campaign being his strongest yet. The Frenchman posed impressive numbers in terms of his progressive passes, carries and key passes, while he was also one of the most fouled players in Europe’s top five leagues due to his quick and tricky feet.

The former French youth midfielder – who represented his country at under-19, under-20 and under-21 level, while also qualifying to represent Haiti on the international stage – has also improved his showing in front of goal this season, having scored and assisted in both a 2-1 win over Lyon on the opening day of Ligue 1 and a 2-0 victory against Toulouse just last weekend.

A move to England and the Premier League now awaits Bellegarde, who will add further reinforcements to the midfield and wide areas for Gary O’Neil in the 2023/24 season.

Sporting director Matt Hobbs said: “He’s a player the recruitment team flagged towards the end of last season, and he’s started this season very well. He’s athletic, technical and has ability to drive with the ball, and you can see from his goal and assist record that he’s had an excellent start to this season.

“He’s another player who adds to our depth and gives us something different. He will add creativity and he’s got good end product. With the runners that we have going forward, his athleticism from the middle of the pitch, as well as his strength and his ability to find that final ball – as he’s shown in France – will be really important to us.”