News of Jonny penning a new deal at Wolves until 2025 on Wednesday was greeted warmly by the club’s supporters.
While the vast majority of coverage of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side this season has focussed on the gaping void left by Raul Jimenez’s absence, the defender being sidelined has had a similar, negative impact.
Since arriving at the club from Atletico Madrid in 2018, Jonny has made the left wing-back spot his own and has clearly enjoyed his time at Molineux so far, telling the club’s website: “I want to thank all of you, because you are part of this. I am happy here, I feel at home.
“Thank you especially for the messages you sent me during my injury. I hope we will see each other on the pitch soon. We are a pack!”
During his first two seasons in the Black Country, in which Wolves recorded back-to-back seventh placed finishes, he missed just eight Premier League games in total.
His team’s record without him was questionable as well. The first two games he missed were back-to-back defeats against lowly Cardiff City and Huddersfield, with Ruben Vinagre proving an inadequate stand-in.
Jonny’s continued absence this season has also coincided with Wolves’ worst ever run of form under Espirito Santo. They currently sit 14th in the Premier League table, well clear of the relegation places, but 12 points adrift of sixth placed West Ham.
All of this seems to point to the conclusion that Jonny is pretty important to the team, although when watching him play, his influence is not immediately noticeable. In the age of attacking wingers masquerading as defenders, his style is nowhere near as flashy. In his entire Premier League career he has managed just three goals and four assists.
What he lacks in attacking output he more than makes up for with his stoic defending. Last season, only ten players tackled more dribblers in the Premier League and no wing-back completed more successful pressures. He also ranked eighth for the most blocks and seventh for the most combined tackles and interceptions.
The conveyor belt of talent that have been been drafted in to replace him this season, including Ruben Vinagre, Marcal, Romain Saiss and Rayan Ait-Nouri, have come nowhere close to matching Jonny’s consistency.
This is because the 26-year-old’s level of defensive discipline is hard to find in the modern game. Having him back solves Wolves’ long standing left sided dilemma. He did not miss beat on his return against Leicester City recently, helping his side record their first, home clean sheet since October. Do not be surprised if they start to find their defensive rhythm again with him back in the side.