JULEN LOPETEGUI is set to bow out as Sevilla’s head coach after Wednesday’s Champions’ League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
And take a massive step towards becoming Wolves’ next boss.
Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui is among Wolves’ top targets to replace Bruno LageCredit: Reuters
Reports in Spain say the 56-year-old former Spain and Real Madrid manager will take charge of Sevilla for the 170th and final time tonight, after Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli agreed to replace him.
The former Marseille boss has been head-hunted by Sevilla’s all-powerful sporting director Monchi, who plans to unveil Sampaoli as Lopetegui’s replacement on Thursday, after a breakdown in relations with his current coach.
But as one door closes another is set to open for Lopetegui who is already favourite to replace Bruno Lage at Wolves and will soon have the added attraction of being freed from any compensation costs.
It is looking increasingly likely Wolves will now target Lopetegui for the second time, six years after he almost became Fosun’s first head coach appointment at Molineux.
On that occasion he was snatched away at the 11th hour to manage Spain’s national team, however he has never lost his hunger to test himself in the Premier League.
His solid organisational skills appeal to Wolves, who have no intention of returning to the Championship and are determined to avoid a relegation scrap.
Lopetegui is the high-profile, safe pair of hands Wolves chiefs crave after he led Sevilla to three top-four finishes in Spain in his three years in charge.
He also toppled Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League in 2020, on the way to winning the trophy.
Bizarrely, Lopetegui will be trusted with Sevilla’s Champions League fate on Wednesday with the axe ready to fall shortly after the final whistle.
Asked about his fragile future, Lopetegui said: “Out of respect for my main responsibility, I am not going to express my opinion on what has happened in recent months.
“I prefer to keep it within the responsibility that I have, that of coaching a great club like Sevilla.
“I will continue to be faithful to all this because I have to live up to the club’s demands and of the fans, who deserve the best from everyone in charge of this club.
“There have been 169 games and tomorrow we will do it again.”