If tonight’s friendly with Luton could perhaps be termed the Rob Edwards derby, or even the Ryan Giles derby, then what of Saturday’s final curtain-raiser before the big Premier League kick-off, when French Ligue One side Rennes are the visitors to Molineux?

The Razak Boukari derby?  Prince Oniangue?  Or how about Tongo Doumbia?  All three who arrived at Wolves already boasting ‘Stade Rennais’ on their respective Curriculum Vitae, and probably share the view that their moves to Molineux never quite played out according to plan.

Oniangue was one of the procession of new arrivals during the first weeks of Fosun’s tenure and, whilst he looked like a player who could adapt to life in the Championship, he fell victim to a combination of circumstances where Wolves went through way too much change way too quickly, and Paul Lambert had to deliver a rescue act based on more tried and trusted personnel.

Boukari?  The flying winger checked in during another time of transition, after the relegation from the Premier League when Stale Solbakken was handed his own mandate to try and change the team’s style of play.

He had sufficiently impressed his team-mates in training to the extent that they strongly believed he would be as good as Bakary Sako – who went on to be a huge success at Molineux – but the luckless Boukari endured an injury nightmare which prevented him ever firing on all cylinders.

That leaves Doumbia, who joined Wolves on a season-long loan from Rennes as a 22-year-old in the summer of 2012 and, in his own first pre-season friendly, couldn’t have done any more to make a positive first impression.

In an away game at Shrewsbury, he came on at half time with Wolves 2-0 down, promptly setting up Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to pull one back before winning the ball, evading two challenges and firing into the roof of the net to level the scores.

‘Wolves appear to have unearthed a new hero,’ screamed the intro from the Express & Star’s match report from the 2-2 draw.

‘Let’s all do the Tongo,’ boomed the travelling – and dancing – Wolves fans who had been mightily impressed by what they had seen.

“It was a great feeling, and I was really happy to show what I can really do in that first game,” Doumbia recalls.

It looked like he had the lot.

At 6ft 3in, Doumbia possessed a long and rangy stride that meant he covered distances quickly and had the makings of an archetypal box-to-box midfielder.

His strength meant he also had the capability of holding opponents off and, as shown against Shrewsbury, he could also finish.

Those considerable abilities had been honed at clubs back home in France, where Doumbia had been born in the village of Vernon, in Normandy in the north of the country.

He played youth football with Olympique Noisy-le-Sec, FC Les Lilas and RSC Montreuil, moving to the Ligue 2 side LB Chateauroux in 2007 before joining Rennes two years later.

It was during the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons that he became a more regular feature in the Rennes side, which also produced one particularly special, goalscoring memory in the January prior to joining Wolves.

“Life was a little bit hard where I came from, and so football is a dream for all young kids there,” Doumbia explains.

“As my first professional club, Rennes was a really good experience for me.

“And I will never forget my first goal against Marseille, in front of my Mom!”

It was another fine strike, a low shot from distance, in what was a top six clash, and, by now Doumbia’s burgeoning reputation was attracting admiring glances from well beyond Molineux.

There had been comparisons made between his style of play and a rather famous French international by the name of Patrick Vieira, whose glittering career had not long come to an end with his final appearance for Manchester City as a substitute in the 2011 FA Cup Final against Stoke.

Those comparisons were not just being made by the French media or within the stands, as legendary Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had also started to run the rule over Doumbia’s progress.

So much so that there was contact between the Gunners and Doumbia’s agent as he burst to prominence at Rennes.

“To be compared to Patrick Vieira was a big honour,” he acknowledges.

“When it comes to Arsenal, there were discussions between my agent and them, but you know football – between discussions and something more happening there can be a very long way!”

It was mid-season when those discussions were at their height, and Rennes were understandably not keen to sell, Doumbia himself now acknowledging it probably wouldn’t have been the right time at such a young age – and with only two years of senior experience under his belt – to join such a top Premier League club.

Instead, as the summer arrived, so too did Wolves, coming in with the offer of a loan which would later be made permanent for a fee of around £2million.

“I was really excited to join the English league,” Doumbia recalls of becoming one of the glut of new signings as Solbakken tried to impose a more tactical method of playing.

However, as with the early Fosun months several years later, when another Rennes ‘old boy’ Oniangue struggled to make an impression, there were so many changes that it became difficult to find a sustained consistency of performance, despite a promising start to match Doumbia’s at Shrewsbury when Wolves were third in the table heading into the second international break at the start of October.

At the time Doumbia spoke very little English – he actually had lessons whilst at Wolves and his grasp of the language is now much improved – but that didn’t dampen the excitement or his ambition to try and make his name in the muck and nettles of the Championship.

“At Wolves we started well, both personally and collectively, but then we started to go in a bad way,” says the midfielder.

“I think eventually it became hard for the players to understand Mr Solbakken and what he was trying to do, especially the English players.

“Individually, I started the season strongly and think I performed well, certainly until Wolves bought me permanently, but then I got an injury, and the coach left, and it was totally different.

“Dean Saunders came in as manager with his ideas and it was not easy for me in what was still my first season in England.

“I just never felt I was able to show 100 per cent of me at that time.”

By the time of the change in management of January of that season, Doumbia had already notched both of his Wolves goals – both from distance – away at Ipswich and home to Brighton.

Injury started to derail his Molineux career, just as the season took a sinister turn, although he had returned to the fray for the final few games which would ultimately seal Wolves fate – a second successive relegation.

This particular phase of the downward spiral wasn’t without its touch of misfortune, not least in the points haul which would normally comfortably secure Championship survival, but also in losing the in-form Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to injury in a game in which he had put Wolves in cruise control at Birmingham.

“Many things went wrong,” reflects Doumbia, on how a dream move for him and so many turned into a nightmare.

“We were unlucky but also in football you have to believe, and I’m not sure we had that at that time.

“We had many good players, but even now, I cannot really explain what happened.”

And then, the double relegation prompted a complete rethink within the corridors of Molineux and Compton Park. Which would bring an end to Doumbia’s stay.

Another management change saw Kenny Jackett step in as Head Coach, and many of the club’s higher paid and higher profile players were banished to make room for new arrivals and opportunities for younger and fresher talent.

For Doumbia, it was always going to be difficult to stake his claim – “I think the feeling between me and Kenny Jackett didn’t pass” is his description – and, after talks, it was agreed for him to return to France’s Ligue One and a loan spell with Valenciennes.

The scores on the doors read 35 Wolves appearances in that season, and two goals.  But there would not be any more.

Doumbia did well on a personal level at Valenciennes in a season in which the team got relegated, and with Wolves having won League One and returned to the Championship, he landed a permanent move, staying in Ligue One with Toulouse.

But after three years back in France, during which he impressed sufficiently to secure a place in Mali’s squad at the 2015 African Cup of Nations, his career has since taken on a far more cosmopolitan flavour.

Originally, he spent a year with Dinamo Zagreb in the ever so slightly lively atmosphere of football in Croatia, helping the team to a league and cup double.

From there it got even more surreal, as the brother of the Zagreb President became coach of Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, and swooped to take Doumbia’s career on a completely new course.

Al-Ain were playing in, and hosting, the World Club Cup just before Christmas of 2018, and Doumbia was a mainstay as his new team reached the final, having come through a dramatic semi-final with Argentinian giants River Plate, 5-4 on penalties.

Their opponents for the trophy? None other than Real Madrid, seeking their third consecutive World Club Cup, and boasting a star-studded line-up.

Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Llorente, Kroos, Vazquez, Benzema, Bale. Not a bad team, that.  It’s little wonder that they beat Al-Ain 4-1, but what an experience for Doumbia, pitting his wits against the cream of the crop of world football.

“After Wolves I continued and managed to win trophies with Dinamo but that Club World Cup with Al-Ain was a really magic moment,” he says.

“We lost the final against Real Madrid but we made history in the country – and playing against those incredible players?  It might be thought of as a small tournament but, for me, it is one of the best memories of my career.”

There was then a season spent with FC Aktobe in the Kazakhstan Premier League before Doumbia headed Down Under, joining many other former Wolves personnel who are now playing, coaching or managing in Australia’s A-League.

He joined Western United, the reigning champions from 2022/23, and made 20 appearances, scoring two goals, as they finished in mid-table.

It has proved another enjoyable experience, on and off the pitch, to add to so many others.

“I was very surprised by the level in Australia – and also the life there – it was a good experience for me,” he says.

And now, it is over.

Moving on from Western, Doumbia is on the lookout for a new challenge.  At 33, a decade after he enjoyed that one rollercoaster ride of a season in a Wolves shirt, he is confident he still has more to offer.

Of the memories and experiences already in the locker, Wolves, despite its problems, is still thought of highly.

He is in regular contact with Sako and Nouha Dicko, he engages with Carl Ikeme and Ronald Zubar on Instagram, and he views his time at Molineux as something to cherish rather than be airbrushed from history.

“Even if it didn’t go like I would have wanted, I still have good memories from Wolves,” he insists.

“And look at them now! It will always be an honour for me to tell people I was there and I played for Wolves.”

For now, he is enjoying time with his family as he assesses his next move.  He’d love to return to the UAE to finish off his career after such positive memories with Al-Ain.  Time will tell.

Already though, he feels privileged.

“I am lucky to have seen all the places I have,” he admits.

“Football has given me these opportunities and I thank God for what he has given me.  

“Of course, I had the potential to do better, but this has been my destiny.”

Destiny delivered two different experiences for Doumbia at Wolves and Rennes, who have already beaten West Ham and face Nottingham Forest this evening, ahead of a season which will also include the Europa League.

No doubt the midfielder will reflect on both as the two sides lock horns at Molineux this weekend, whilst hoping there are still more chapters and experiences to come.