Julen Lopetegui has reportedly told Wolves to pursue a player he worked with at Real Madrid, and the Spaniard could become the first signing of the new era at Molineux.
Lopetegui became a free agent on October 5 following his sacking by La Liga outfit Sevilla. That came after the side had won just once in 10 matches.
This put Wolves on alert as they had parted ways with head coach Bruno Lage just a few days before that.
Wolves approached Lopetegui over the vacant role but were initially pushed back. The manager’s father was unwell and this played a big in his decision, according to BBC Sport.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague said: “It’s a heartfelt no [to Wolves] but the personal and professional timing did not coincide.”
However, Wolves did eventually get their man. They announced Lopetegui as Lage’s replacement on Saturday. It is unclear whether the 56-year-old’s circumstances changed or whether he decided the opportunity was too good to turn down.
He will take charge of the first-team squad on Monday November 14 and will then have the World Cup period to prepare for his first Premier League game. Wanderers will take on Everton at Goodison Park on Boxing Day.
When asked about the appointment, Wolves chairman Jeff Shi said: “Julen is a top coach, with excellent experience at an elite level of the game, and we are very pleased to have agreed a deal to bring him to Wolves.
Wolves chairman excited about Julen Lopetegui arrival
“Since the very beginning, Julen has been our number one choice to manage Wolves, and we look forward to welcoming him and his team when they join us in the coming weeks.”
Wolves are now looking at ways to improve the squad and make it more to Lopetegui’s liking. And they could sign a former Real Madrid player as part of this process.
CaughtOffside claim Wolves are interested in landing Real Valladolid centre-back Javi Sanchez after a recommendation from their new boss.
Lopetegui worked with Sanchez during his brief spell as Real Madrid manager between August and October of 2018.
During that time, Sanchez made Champions League appearances against Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow. He also managed 45 minutes during a league win over Celta Vigo.
It seems the defender impressed Lopetegui as he is now on the manager’s wish list at Wolves.
New boss hoping to work with defender again
The report claims Lopetegui wants to reunite with Sanchez in January. But if a deal cannot be struck mid-season then him and Wolves would be willing to wait until the end of the campaign.
The former Spain U19 international, who swapped Real Madrid for Valladolid in 2020, does have a release clause in his contract. It stands at €25million (£21.7m).
However, Valladolid have lowered their asking price and are willing to accept just €15m for Sanchez. This works out at £13m currently.
Real Madrid will get 50 per cent of Sanchez’s transfer fee, which could see them take home £6.5m.
It is no surprise that Lopetegui is telling Wolves chiefs which players he wants to bring in. Fellow recent appointment Unai Emery will be doing exactly the same thing at Aston Villa.
However, there will be some questions over whether Sanchez could actually make it into the starting eleven at Wolves. After all, Nathan Collins and Max Kilman are likely to be the starting duo at centre-half.
Perhaps Sanchez will have to begin life in England as a substitute. Then, once he gets an opportunity due to injury or suspension, he must take it and impress.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Transfer Gossip claims FSG will give Jurgen Klopp his dream transfer as a final act before selling Liverpool.
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