Wolverhampton Wanderers have been one of the surprise packages in the English Premier League this season, punching well above their weight having won 11 and drawn six of their 26 top-flight games since promotion.
The Molineux Stadium outfit have impressed under Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, but according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, another manager could have been in charge of the side as former Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui was close to getting the Wolves job before Spain called.
“He knew everything about Wolves,” Balague told BBC 5 Live Sport.
“He was late when pre-season had started but he had the luggage ready to just go to Wolverhampton, but then the Spanish FA called him and that was that, so that dream hasn’t died”
Julen Lopetegui was close to getting the #Wolves job before Spain called ?
He's now learning English ????
Which #PL club would want him?
Download the Football Daily @BBCSounds ?
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) February 15, 2019
Lopetegui was fired by the Spanish FA on the eve of last summer’s World Cup after announcing his intention to move to Real Madrid after the tournament.
To make matters worse, the 52-year-old didn’t last long at Madrid as he was relieved of his duties three months into his tenure at the Bernabeu due to poor results, with the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona proving to be the final straw.
Espirito Santo helped Wolves to Premier League promotion in his first season in charge after winning the Championship, and it remains to be seen if Lopetegui would have done any better had he landed the job.
The 45-year-old initially signed a three-year deal upon arriving in the summer of 2017, but he has since extended his contract till 2021.
Espirito Santo was awarded the Premier League Manager of the Month last September after Wolves went unbeaten in the month, and that he was able to lead the club to the top-flight after a six-year absence says a lot about his credential.