By Martin Graham | 2nd Nov 2022
Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers have reportedly advanced in their negotiations to sign ousted Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach following the dismissal of Bruno Lage after 16 months in charge.
The former Benfica boss took over from Nuno Espirito Santo who left the club at the end of the 2020/21 season to take over from Jose Mourinho at Tottenham Hotspur. However, Lage failed to live up to his billing as an elite coach when faced with the pressure of Premier League football. Wolves have been without a coach since his sacking on October 2 and have been in talks with a number of potential replacements, one of which is former Real Madrid and Sevilla manager, Lopetegui.
The 56-year-old manager reportedly turned down the move last month due to his father being ill. Steve Davis has been in charge of the club since Lage was axed, however, reports indicate that he will be stepping down for Lopetegui with whom all talks are now progressing smoothly. The former Spain national team manager is billed to arrive at Molineux while the World Cup is ongoing in Qatar.
The UEFA Europa League winning manager will see off Pedro Martins, Ruben Amorim and Sergio Conceicao who were also considered as options for the Wolves managerial position.
Lopetegui is represented by Jorge Mendes’ agency which placed him in pole position for the job. The Portuguese super agent is a representative of a number of the club’s players and it is believed within the club’s upper echelons that a relationship with the players will be established faster for this reason.
One player Lopetegui will hope to count on if he takes the role, however, is Ruben Neves, who has been linked with a move away from the club for the better part of a year.
The player himself believed he was on his way out after last season as he was captured waving emotionally to the fans on the final matchday. However, the links failed to manifest, and he has fully reintegrated himself into the squad and is diligently going about his duties.
But those links have not disappeared, however, as it is believed that Barcelona are looking to snap him up in January or in the summer of 2023 as a replacement for Sergio Busquets.
Mundo Deportivo have now reported that those at Barcelona are surprised that the links are still being reported in the media as the player was effectively ruled out by Xavi Hernandez in the summer. The Spanish outlet instead reports that Xavi wants Real Sociedad man Martin Zubimendi to replace Busquets.
With this news, it looks like Lopetegui can count on the talents of Neves when he takes over from interim manager Davis during the World Cup.