Nuno Espirito Santo says Wolves are not a stepping stone for players after Jota sale

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Nuno Espirito Santo and Diogo Jota
Nuno said three seasons of good performances did not amount to using the club as a stepping stone

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo has rejected suggestions the Premier League club have become a stepping-stone for bigger rivals.

The £45m deal for Diogo Jota to join Liverpool on Saturday came three weeks after the club sold wing-back Matt Doherty to Spurs for £15m.

After two seventh-place finishes in the Premier League, Nuno said it was natural clubs would be looking at Wolves players. However, he said those players were not moving to Molineux with an eye on their next club.

"When a player has been with us for three seasons, with such high performances, in so many important games, that is not a stepping stone," he said.

"Wolves is a big, big club. We are proud to say that. Players want to play and progress with us and not look for the next move."

Nuno said the Jota deal was a good one for all parties but privately he had decided in the summer he was prepared to let the striker leave.

It is understood that Wolves will receive less than £4.5m of the fee over the next 12 months.

However, it does allow Nuno to bring in a replacement for Doherty - he has told chairman Jeff Shi the identity of the player he wants - in addition to adding 18-year-old Dutch defender Ki-Jana Hoever, who he has brought in from Liverpool for an initial £9m.

Following the recent arrivals of Fabio Silva, Marcal and Vitor Ferreira, it is evident Wolves are evolving under a popular manager who has committed himself to the club until 2023.

Nuno calls Hoever, who is not eligible for Monday's Premier League encounter with Manchester City, "a young player with potential".

In Jota and Doherty, Wolves have lost two players who supplied 23 goals last season but Nuno says he is confident his squad is capable of rising to the challenge of blossoming without them.

"Over these last three seasons we have created an identity," he said. "There is a new challenge and cycle ahead of us now. Other teams are improving and we need to keep going."

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