Craig Dawson was not a typical Wolves signing… but since arriving at Molineux for just £3.3m from West Ham, Julen Lopetegui’s side have pulled five points clear of the relegation zone, leaving Hammers fans flabbergasted
- Wolves have pulled five points clear of the relegation since Craig Dawson joined
- The ex-West Ham defender signed for just £3.3m in the January transfer window
- Hammers are three points below Wolves and fans are shocked he was let go
When Julen Lopetegui saw the name ‘Craig Dawson’ on Wolves’ list of January targets, he practically jumped for joy.
The centre-back’s arrival at Molineux for just £3.3million passed largely unnoticed yet since he joined from West Ham, Wolves have claimed victories over Liverpool and Southampton to pull five points clear of the relegation zone. Dawson even scored on his debut, a memorable 3-0 win over Jurgen Klopp’s side. Wolves face Bournemouth at home on Saturday and will be confident of a third straight success.
The Hammers are three points below them and many supporters are flabbergasted that Dawson was allowed to leave so easily, especially to join a rival in the fight for survival.
For perhaps the first time during the era of Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate who bought the club for £45m in 2016, Wolves pivoted away from Jorge Mendes’ powerful Gestifute agency during January.
In the past, Gestifute have been regularly involved in Wolves transfers yet this month, the only deal they worked on was £27m flop Goncalo Guedes’ loan move to Benfica.
Craig Dawson has proved to be a bargain at £3.3m and many Hammers fans are flabbergasted that he was allowed to join Wolves so easily
The former Hammer scored on his debut while Wolves have beaten Liverpool and Southampton to pull five points clear of the relegation zone
Because of Gestifute’s influence, it is difficult to imagine a player like Dawson joining Wolves in previous windows.
Wolves insiders insist there was no long-term plan to loosen links with Gestifute, and that the club retain a strong relationship with Mendes’ company. Yet boss Julen Lopetegui has taken a keener role in transfers than any coach during Fosun’s time, while new recruitment chief Matt Hobbs is trying to stamp his mark on the post by ensuring he is involved throughout the process.
Lopetegui knew Wolves’ predicament required experienced players. So when Hobbs mentioned Dawson to the Spaniard, he was pushing at an open door, especially as Lopetegui had already seen the 32-year-old’s talent first hand.
Lopetegui was hugely impressed by Dawson when West Ham knocked his side of the Europa League at the last-16 stage last season. He was similarly taken by Michail Antonio, who remains on Wolves’ radar.
Around that time, Dawson earned the nickname ‘Ballon d’Awson’ from some West Ham supporters. If a manager as qualified as Lopetegui, who has also led Spain and Real Madrid, can see his quality, it seems surprising that his former club were prepared to overlook it.
Three other names in Lopetegui’s notebook, midfielder Mario Lemina and forwards Matheus Cunha and Pablo Sarabia, duly arrived last month, Meanwhile, Hobbs drove the £16.6m capture of Brazilian midfielder Joao Gomes, who marked his first appearance since his move from Flamengo with the winner at Southampton.
Dawson is a warrior on the pitch but is said to be extremely reserved off it, as is centre-back partner Max Kilman – hardly what fans remember of Tony Adams or John Terry. Neither enjoys conducting TV interviews after games.
Yet Kilman developed quickly by playing alongside Conor Coady, who is now on loan at Everton, and will surely improve again alongside Dawson, a similarly calm presence at the heart of the back line. In the meantime, West Ham fans can only shake their heads in confusion.
Wolves have often relied on Jorge Mendes’ Gestifute agency for players so signing Dawson came as a suprise
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