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THE VERDICT | A Prince has arrived in the Championship, he should succeed

It must feel like you are living in an alternate universe as a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter, with their club going haywire over the past month or so.

Former Italian international goalkeeper Walter Zenga is their manager, they are linked with players from across Europe for astronomical fees and even the name Mario Balotelli has been spoken in the same breath as Molineux this week.

However, in a move that should keep their feet on the ground and push their current Championship squad in the right direction, they have signed Stade de Reims midfielder Prince Oniangué. The Congo international has come with little fanfare but he could become a solid starter for a team looking for an extra spark in the middle of the park.

Oniangué’s rise began a few years ago as he began to carve a role in a Reims side that were sitting comfortably in mid-table in Ligue 1. A box-to-box midfielder at heart, he scored 10 goals and created two assists that really propelled his side away from any relegation fears that they had at the start of that season.

The following season was not quite so successful as he was asked to sit further back and defend more often. Although perfectly capable of performing that task and it was much needed after Grzegorz Krychowiak had left for Sevilla that summer, it restricted his attacking abilities and his goal tally suffered, managing just three strikes.

It affected his final campaign in France as well. With the team falling into a relegation battle, Oninague was thrown in and out of the side as they tried to find a solution to their dip in form, which involved using a variety of different formations.

The 27-year-old fell victim to this chopping and changing, seeing his role change on a week-to-week basis and although Reims had a solid defensive midfielder in Jaba Kankava to give him more licence to get forward, the coaching staff’s decision-making never allowed them to flourish as a partnership. Entrenched in a war he never wanted to be a part of, Oniangué struggled to have any real impact.

As previously mentioned, for those wondering what the Congo international will bring to the table, he is a stereotypical box-to-box player. A strong runner with the ball, able to strike the ball with power and accuracy from range and willing to mix things up in the defensive third of the field, Oniangué likes to be involved in all facets of play.

He is capable of playing a more defensive role or a more creative role if needed, but he does not excel in either of those areas specifically. Restrict his position and he can tend to wander a little in search of the ball, give him more creative freedom and he can tend to try and overplay things but if needed, he can fill that void.

Wolves really struggled last season to find a consistent goal-scorer, especially after Benik Afobe left in January and it wasn’t helped significantly enough by the midfield. David Edwards and George Saville notched five each while Kevin McDonald managed only three before departing for Fulham this summer.

That is exactly the kind of place where Oniangué can thrive, especially if they can help him rediscover his exceptional form of 2013/14. Allow him to shoot from range, get him arriving late into the box to snatch goals there and he can give them that extra lift they need in that area as well as being a willing defender when that’s needed once they are ahead.

He will not be an overnight fix for the team and he may take a little time to settle in a new team and country but if they reinstall the confidence he has lost over the past year or so, he will become a real asset. He is made for English football. So here’s hoping and believing that this Prince can make their opponents cry, rather than doves.


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