Wolves boss Nuno Santo tipped to replace Dean Smith at Aston Villa - The Verdict

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith looking at his watch

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo could be set for a sensational move to Aston Villa this summer, according to Football Insider.

That is, if Jorge Mendes gets his way. The high-profile super-agent represents Nuno, and reportedly wants to see his client make the move across the Midlands to Villa Park.

This would certainly be a controversial switch, as with West Brom dropping back down to the Championship, Wolves and Villa are set to be the only two teams from the Midlands left in the top-flight next season.

Wolves have endured a stuttering campaign and find themselves in the bottom half after back-to-back top seven finishes in their previous two campaigns. Despite their slump, Nuno is not expected to be given much money in the upcoming transfer market to improve his squad.

Meanwhile, over at Villa, the club have ambitions of competing in Europe in the coming years, and the club’s owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris appear to be willing to support the manager in the next transfer window.

Under Dean Smith, the side have jumped up the table this year. Having only avoided relegation on the final day of last season, they now are currently up in 11th place, three points above Wolves in the table.

Now, Villa must decide whether Smith is the man to take them to the next level, or should Nuno be placed in charge this summer?

GIVEMESPORT’s Sam Brookes, Jonathan Gorrie, Christy Malyan and Joshua Cole give their thoughts below…

*All stats correct prior to this week’s action

Sam Brookes

“It’s time for change.

“That might seem harsh on Smith, who has not done an awful lot wrong, but the last few months without Jack Grealish have suggested that he has taken the side as far as he can.

“Without their captain, Villa have lost six of their last 11 matches, and Smith has looked incapable of finding a Plan B without his inspirational leader.

“Meanwhile, Nuno has had an underwhelming season at Wolves, but has shown in previous campaigns that he is capable of getting the best out of his players and taking them into Europe.

“Smith has done a fine job over the past year, ensuring that his team beat the drop in 2020, and then helping the side kick on again this year. It seems he has reached his limit, though, and that is why bringing in Nuno would be the right move.”

Jonathan Gorrie

“Absolutely not, though the pressure must really be on Dean Smith.

“Clearly, the nature of their improvement this season after staying up by the skin of their teeth last time out has to be commended but, frankly, the owners will be looking for more. After all, they haven’t exactly been shy about spending money and will soon demand a return on their investment, such has been the loftiness of their ambition.

“Smith deserves another season to try and make this team competitive for the Europa League spots and has shown he can do that this year, at least in fits and spurts. Given the congested nature of this season, affording him a genuine crack at it when the campaign reverts to something approaching normal seems fair.

“After that, however, it might be Nuno’s time.”

Christy Malyan

“Dean Smith and Nuno have in fact been on incredibly similar journeys. Both have taken the helm at fallen giants of English football, both have taken them back to the Premier League and both have actually spent a deceptively large amount of money in the process, with their transfer spending being £230m and £303m respectively.” 

“So it’s ultimately a question of which manager’s done the better job with similar-ish resources and in that respect I can’t really see past Nuno. He’s taken Wolves to the top seven twice, while reaching an FA Cup semi-final and a Europa League quarter-final, whereas Smith’s greatest achievement with Villa is essentially just avoiding this season’s relegation race despite having a big-money striker of his own choosing and one of the best creative midfielders in the Premier League in Jack Grealish.

“Nuno looks like an upgrade to me and while some will claim the Gestifute relationship gives him an advantage, the flipside of that is pretty simple. If he can bring Jorge Mendes’ best clients to Aston Villa rather than Molineux, then he’s automatically a very handy manager to have in the transfer market, which is half the battle these days.

“Yes there should be questions over how this season’s spiralled so badly for Wolves, but Nuno has tried pretty much everything to get his side back on track in the face of some frankly abysmal bad luck with injuries. If anything, this season has shown why it’s time for him to take up a new challenge and if Villa can back him in the transfer market, I think he’d prove to be an inspired appointment.”

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Richard Stearman Wolverhampton

Richard Stearman

Joshua Cole

“Although Espirito Santo has done a fantastic job to transform Wolves into a Premier League side in recent years, they have unfortunately regressed under his guidance this season.

“Certainly not helped by the absence of their talisman Raul Jimenez, the Wanderers have looked a shadow of the side that qualified for the Europa League in 2019 as they have struggled considerably for consistency.

“Taking this into consideration, Villa would be making a major mistake if they opt to replace Dean Smith with Espirito Santo as his arrival could undo all the good work that they have achieved this season.

“Instead of replacing Smith, the Lions ought to instead provide him with the funds needed to take the club to new heights next season.”

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