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OPINION: Portugal manager Fernando Santos was cruel to overlook Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jose Sa

Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jose Sa is still awaiting his first Portugal cap after being cruelly overlooked by Fernando Santos.

Santos has selected FC Porto’s 21-year-old Diogo Costa, Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and former Wolves and current AS Roma shot-stopper Rui Patricio in his latest squad.

It was the latter who Sa replaced at Molineux and his record of 23 goals conceded in 29 matches justifies a place in Santos’ squad.  Sa has registered 11 league clean sheets this term and is trailing to only Ederson, Alisson (16 each) and Aaron Ramsdale (12) in the battle for the Premier League golden glove.

Sa and his robust defensive line have been a cornerstone in Wolves’ success under Bruno Lage. Goals may be at a premium for the Black Country outfit – their 29 in total standing as the joint-second lowest in the Premier League – but Sa has been a crucial factor behind Wolves’ ascension to European candidates.

 GA Per GameSave PercentageClean Sheets
Diogo Costa0.7367.3%38.5%
Anthony Lopes1.3472.7%22.2%
Rui Patricio1.2170.1%37.9%
Jose Sa0.7984.1%37.9%
Statistics: FBREF

A closer look at Sa’s statistics testify eloquently to his indispensability. His save percentage of 84.1% trumps any other goalkeeper in the Premier League and his statistics also stand up strongly against his Portuguese compatriots.

Only Costa is superior to Sa statistically as he looks to complete the Primeira Liga season unbeaten with league leaders Porto. At just 22-years-old, Costa looks destined to become the new Portugal No. 1 after debuting in a 3-0 victory against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar in October 2021.

Nevertheless, Lopes has struggled for form between the sticks for fallen French heavyweights Lyon. Les Gones are stranded in 10th place and sit eight points adrift of Champions League qualification.

Lopes has also conceded 1.43 goals per game, 0.55 goals more than Sa, while he also has a drastically inferior save percentage.

Portugal are yet to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after finishing runners-up behind Serbia in Group A. Beating Turkey in the play-off in Porto could set-up a mouth drooling heavyweight clash against Italy, if they can manage to get past North Macedonia.

For now, Sa can only continue to perform at the level he currently is, and if Portugal overcome the obstacles in front of them, then Sa will surely be heading to Qatar in November.

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