Wolves were unable to keep hold of Romain Saiss in the summer and the centre-back emphasised his quality once again on Wednesday as Morocco held Croatia at the World Cup.
The defender left the Old Gold on a free transfer to join Besiktas but showed the Old Gold that he is exactly what is missing at Molineux with a composed defensive display against a strong Croatia side that reached the final of the last World Cup.
As per SofaScore, the Morocco captain would earn a strong 7.1/10 rating for his performance as the Atlas Lions earned a 0-0 draw against Zlatko Dalic’s side.
Saiss was dominant alongside West Ham man Nayef Aguerd at the back for Morocco, as Croatia’s dangerous front three mustered just one shot on target between them, with Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric and Nikola Vlasic all rated below a 7/10 for their displays.
The 32-year-old, who earns £30k-per-week, has been described as the “Moroccan Maldini” in the past and he certainly lived up to that name in their World Cup opener to give them a real chance of progression from Group F, with games against Canada and Belgium to come.
Former manager Bruno Lage was full of praise for Saiss last season, as the experienced defender was crucial to the Old Gold’s strong early season form that saw them pick up so many clean sheets, as he earned a strong 6.85 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
Are Wolves missing Saiss?
Lage said: “Saiss is a big impact. What I know is that we’re going to miss a very important player for us, not just for me, Saiss has been an important player for the last four or five years for the club, he’s doing very well, he’s a leader and he’s scored three goals.
“So, you can see the importance of Saiss for me and for my team.”
The Portuguese boss was certainly right about missing Saiss while he was at the African Cup of Nations and that became even clearer this season when the Old Gold struggled so much in his absence.
Wolves sit bottom of the Premier League after shipping 24 goals in their opening 15 games, which perhaps wouldn’t have been the case had Saiss extended his stay at Molineux.
His World Cup masterclass on Wednesday will perhaps have been a source of frustration for new Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui, as the Spaniard would surely love to have had an experienced defender such as Saiss in his side, as he looks to avoid relegation once the Premier League resumes.