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Who are newly promoted Wolves, how will they handle the Premier League?

On Saturday, Wolverhampton Wanderers achieved promotion to the Premier League with four games to spare, returning to the top flight for the first time since 2012. It's been a long journey back, after they dropped to League One in 2013, but thanks in large part to significant financial backing from Chinese consortium Fosun and links with super agent Jorge Mendes, they're back.

So who are this team, and how might they fare among the elite?

Who's the manager?

A goalkeeper in his playing days, Nuno Espirito Santo's stock at the top level had sunk a little last summer after being sacked by Porto. But given he'd taken Valencia into La Liga's top four in 2015, his appointment was a coup for Wolves, after Walter Zenga then Paul Lambert underwhelmed last season.

Nuno, a fairly reserved character away from the pitch, is not exactly an interviewer's dream and will not provide the sort of soundbites and analogies that Carlos Carvalhal and David Wagner have. This season he's been a big-name manager helming an ambitious project who seems to prefer deflecting attention away from himself, and onto his team.

Who's their star man?

Take your pick, really. It would perhaps be nice to look beyond the obvious, but Ruben Neves really has no business being in the Championship. He was linked with Juventus and Liverpool before a poor last season at Porto -- along with, shall we say, gentle advice from Mendes -- allowed Wolves to sign him for £15.3 million.

It took him a short while to settle in, but after that initial period of adjustment he has been superb, a midfielder of elegance and fine passing and, as 12 yellow cards and one red show, one happy to engage with the earthier demands of the Championship too. He's scored five goals, all of them sensational long-rangers, but the one last week against Derby County summed up his exceptional talent.

Who are their other big players?

For all the money they have spent, two of their more impressive performers this season have been centre-back Conor Coady (signed in 2015 before Fosun's involvement) and left wing-back Barry Douglas (purchased for £1m from Konyaspor last summer), the latter in particular providing remarkable attacking threat from the flanks with his brilliant crossing and free kicks.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ruben Neves, left, and Conor Coady.
Ruben Neves, left, could be the star of Wolves' show as they move up to the Premier League next season.

Then there's Diogo Jota, on loan from Atletico Madrid, a buzzing forward full of tricks and flicks who's scored 16 goals this season, forward Ivan Cavaleiro, midfielder Romain Saiss, right wing-back Matt Doherty ... we could go on. Short version: basically the whole team has been superb.

How do they play?

Barely diverting from a 3-4-3 formation all season, Nuno has got Wolves playing some sensational football: in the first half of the campaign certainly, blowing teams away with their flowing attacking. Since around Christmas they've had to grind out a few more results, although it says plenty that three defeats in ten games after the turn of the year was as close to a crisis as they got.

They broadly rely on their wing-backs for width, with the nominal wide forwards often operating more as dual No. 10s, making for a flowing, unpredictable front three. You would expect them to continue this style in the top flight, too; after all, there's very little reason for them to change.

Where will they need to strengthen?

The main two areas will be at either end of the pitch. John Ruddy has been good in goal this season, but one wonders if he's a Premier League-quality keeper. They will also need a proper centre-forward. Benik Afobe returned on loan from Bournemouth in January, but a club of their means and ambitions could probably do better.

Elsewhere, they will probably just require the general strengthening throughout the squad that any promoted team does. But they don't have a significant, outstanding weakness that needs fixing, merely the depth required for a successful Premier League season.

How will they cope in the Premier League?

While their financial advantage has not exactly won them many friends in the Football League, it means that this is a promoted team for whom survival is not the primary aim. Remaining in the top flight will be regarded as an absolute minimum, and given the mediocrity that has existed below the top seven of the Premier League this season, a top-ten finish is entirely realistic.

Their team as it is would probably have performed respectably in this season's top flight; in the summer they will augment that with significant spending, and while that's not a guarantee of success, it could elevate them above the usual standards of the promoted sides.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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