LONDON — Julen Lopetegui has left his job as Wolves coach just days before the start of the Premier League season after reportedly being unhappy over the club’s recruitment policy.
“Wolves and Julen Lopetegui have reached an agreement to part ways, ending the Spaniard’s nine-month reign as head coach at the club,” Wolves said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The head coach and club acknowledged and accepted their differences of opinion on certain issues and agreed that an amicable end to his contract was the best solution for all parties.”
Former Bournemouth head coach Gary O’Neil, sacked this summer after steering the Cherries to top-flight safety, is reported to be in line to replace Lopetegui.
Former Spain and Real Madrid boss Lopetegui joined Wolves in November, replacing Bruno Lage, with the club bottom of the Premier League and helped them stay in the top flight, finishing 13th.
But the 56-year-old was said to be frustrated by their approach in the transfer market, with a number of first-team players departing this summer and few replacements found.
Wolves have sold the likes of Ruben Neves, Conor Coady, Nathan Collins and Raul Jimenez and have only brought in two players on free transfers — Matt Doherty and Tom King.
The club’s statement added: “Talks have been ongoing in recent weeks, held with the utmost respect and cordiality, affording the club time and space to begin work on finding a successor, while also ensuring that Julen and his backroom staff could continue their planned preparation to ensure the playing squad would be in the best possible condition for the start of the Premier League season.”
In his own statement Lopetegui said: “I wish Wolves and everybody at the club the very best of luck for the future, and thank them for the opportunity granted at the time to take charge of this wonderful club.
“It has been an honour to enjoy this adventure. Also, of course, I want to thank the players, who have always given the maximum to achieve our objectives, and especially the fans that made me feel like one of them from the very first moment and have always been amazing to me, my staff and my family.”
Lopetegui, whose backroom staff of Pablo Sanz, Juan Peinado, Oscar Caro, Edu Rubio, Borja De Alba Alonso and Daniel Lopetegui will also leave, took over with the club in dire straits.
He won nine league games from that point, beating Liverpool and Tottenham at Molineux, as the club finished safely in mid-table to extend their top-flight stay into a sixth season.
“On behalf of everyone at the club I’d like to thank Julen and his staff for their dedication and hard work during their time at the football club,” said sporting director Matt Hobbs.
“They were brought in with the primary aim of keeping the club in the Premier League last season, an objective which they achieved with games to spare.
“While our ambition had been to move into the new season together, it is public knowledge that there were differences of opinion on some key topics, and it was agreed by all parties that it would be best to part ways ahead of the new campaign.
“After a successful pre-season, full of hard work and good performances, Julen and his staff leave the squad in great shape ahead of the season opener next week, which will give his successor the best possible platform for success.”
Wolves open their season away to Manchester United on Monday. — AFP