In one swift tapping of the publish button on Twitter, Nuno Espirito Santo’s stay at Wolves is coming to an end.
The Portuguese manager has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs in the past but his untimely departure on Friday afternoon came as a shock.
Nuno has been the foundation holding everything together at Molineux for the last four years. He has guided them from being a mid-table Championship club to one which achieved a place in the Europa League quarter-finals last season.
The 47-year-old has built an impressive armoury of Portuguese talent and, together with Fosun, they have taken the club to a new level in the modern era. Therefore, to lose him after their final match of the current campaign will be a huge loss.
With the transfer window opening in just a matter of weeks, the Old Gold hierarchy will need to make sure they have a swift replacement installed.
One man they have targeted is former Benfica coach Bruno Lage. Another Portuguese manager, he was touted with a switch to Molineux last month, but a move now appears to be gathering pace.
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano took to social media in the immediate aftermath of Nuno’s resignation with the following update: “Wolves have contacted former Benfica manager Bruno Lage as ‘main option’ to replace Nuno Espirito Santo who’s leaving the club. Talks ongoing.”
Lage took over the Lisbon giants in January 2019, losing just 13 of his 76 matches in charge while guiding them to the 2018/19 Primeira Liga title. In the process, he and his team were described as “spectacular” by the reputed World Soccer magazine.
It was under his stewardship that a number of Benfica’s young players came to prominence, with newly-crowned FWA Premier League Player of the Year Ruben Dias thriving under his management.
Another player he helped take to the next level was Joao Felix. The forward bagged 17 goals and produced ten assists in just 29 outings under Lage before moving to Atletico Madrid for a mind-boggling £113m – the fifth-highest transfer fee in world football.
The 44-year-old also developed Florentino Luis, who has been linked with Leeds United, and Ferro, a centre-back now plying his trade at Valencia.
In bringing through all of these players, he showed why he’d be perfect for the current crop at Molineux. Jeff Shi likes a manager who can develop young talent, an area where Nuno was particularly adept.
That being said, with Lage at the helm, Wolves could extract even more from those coming through the academy. Fabio Silva will be able to take great comfort from what the 44-year-old achieved with Felix, another of football’s global wonderkids.
Wolves’ record signing has only netted four times since moving to England but could see his game significantly improved under a new manager. The likes of Vitinha, Morgan Gibbs-White and Christian Marques could also look forward to regular first team minutes if Lage’s work at Benfica is anything to go by.
The Jorge Mendes client may not be well known to an English audience but neither was Nuno before he arrived in the Midlands.
Lage certainly worth a punt from Shi.