Exploring José Sá’s 2023/24 Comeback Journey

Excitement surrounded the Molineux when Wolverhampton Wanderers signed José Sá ahead of the 2021/22 season. The former Portuguese Primeira Liga and Greece Super League champion was set to replace fan-favorite Rui Patrício, who departed that summer to join AS Roma.


A very successful debut season saw the Portuguese goalkeeper’s stock rise steeply, as he was considered one of the best players in the Premier League. Unfortunately, his stock crashed the very next season with the same momentum that took him upward, and doubts started creeping in. Some supporters began wondering whether the previous season was a one-off performance.



However, that only proved a blip for Sá, as he rose in the 2023/24 season to be one of the best-performing goalkeepers in England. This article will analyze Sá’s remontada campaign, where he cemented himself as the cream of the goalkeeper crop.


Shot-Stopping Wizard


Sá’s proficiency between the sticks is elite – boasting an impressive tally in the PSxG metic – a measure used to quantify the ‘goals prevented’ by a goalkeeper. It works by comparing the expected goals (xG) the goalkeeper was statistically supposed to concede against the actual value, with a positive difference suggesting overperformance and a negative value indicating underperformance.


The Portuguese goalkeepers performance in this metric for the past three Premier League seasons aptly represents his successful debut campaign, the significant dip in the following year, and the latest redemption arc.



His overachievement in this statistic should not be overlooked, as he outperformed renowned goalkeepers like Alisson, Emiliano Martínez, and André Onana. Furthermore, Sá achieved this while facing the sixth most shots on target. Some may assume that a high volume of shots will compromise the quality, as was the case with Onana.


However, according to the PSxG per shot-on-target metric, Sá faced the sixth-best quality of shots. Moreover, despite facing a high quality and volume of shots, Sá managed to deliver an impressive save % of 73.4% – joint-fourth-best with Liverpool’s Alisson.



Overlooked Goalkeeper?


When discussing the top goalkeepers in European football, Sá’s name is seldom mentioned, and it feels like he is under the radar despite playing in one of the most watched leagues in the world. A reason could be his lack of mastery in possession to fit the profile of modern goalkeepers who are calm under pressure, attracting the opposition before releasing a pass to break the press.


The stats reflect his mediocre performance in the passing metrics, as he launches a fair share of passes and goal-kicks, unlike ball-playing goalkeepers like Ederson, Guglielmo Vicario, and Bart Verbruggen.



Furthermore, Sá is prone to sporadic errors that can prove costly, with a few examples this season, which has stirred doubters to believe he cannot play for a club competing for trophies.


“I think Jose is a fantastic goalkeeper for the level. There are areas that with all the players we’re working on daily to try to improve, and Jose knows what they are, but I think the main message around Jose is that we’re delighted to have a top goalkeeper at the club,”-Gary O’Neil.


Nevertheless, there is no denying that Sá is one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe. The 30-year-old looks far from fading and showcased that in the 2023/24 season. As Gary O’Neil looks to build on Wolverhampton’s prosperous year by carrying forward the momentum into 2024/25, Sá will be a vital asset he hopes to retain.


By: Fahd Ahmed / @fahdahmed987

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Naomi Baker – Getty Images