Nuno Espirito Santo has spoken of the enormous respect and admiration he has for Diogo Jota – and plans to give the Liverpool man a “big, big hug and eventually a kiss” ahead of his Wolves’ clash at Molineux on Monday.
Jota joined Wolves when they still a Championship side in July 2017. The Portugal forward spent the previous season on loan from Atletico Madrid at Porto, and was hugely influential in their promotion.
He scored 44 times in 131 appearances for Wolves. Among his highlights were memorable Europa League hat-tricks in wins over Besiktas and Espanyol.
However, when Liverpool came calling, Wolves allowed Jota to depart in a deal that saw Michael Edwards work some serious magic.
The 24-year-old has recently returned to action following a knee injury and could feature against his old club tonight.
Indeed, Nuno insists his former player deserves enormous respect for what he helped Wolves achieve.
“I will give him a big, big hug and eventually a kiss, this is how much I like him,” Nuno said. “The friendship that we had for four or five years together every day – big hug!
“I’m absolutely sure that if Molineux was full of our fans, he would have a huge reception. What Diogo did with us was amazing, fantastic, beyond words. He was truly admired because he gave everything he had for the club.
“He joined us in the Championship coming from Porto, put his life and heart here and that cannot ever be forgotten. He went to a fantastic club, now he’s healthy again and playing football again. I wish him all the best.
“If I see him before, I will hug him strong and in the end I will hug him. No matter what happens I will hug him because I have a big admiration for him.”
Nuno respect for old player Fabinho
Liverpool have been on a downward spiral in the Premier League for a number of weeks. They have suffered an incredible six defeats in their last seven matches. It’s form which has left them with a challenge to finish in the top four – as well Jurgen Klopp knows.
But the comebacks of Jota and Fabinho stabilised the side in their Champions League triumph over RB Leipzig last week.
Indeed, Jota isn’t the only Reds player familiar to Nuno. Fabinho was first brought to Europe by the Wolves boss, who recalls the brief time he spent managing the Brazilian after signing him for Portuguese outfit Rio Ave in June 2012.
“Fabinho is an amazing player, a fantastic player. We were together in the beginning at Rio Ave when he came to Europe,” Nuno added. “It was many, many years ago.
“I was just starting basically with the same technical staff that we have here in Rio Ave.
“We brought in two players from Brazil: Filipe Augusto and Fabinho. We were together for two weeks and from out of nowhere he goes on loan to Real Madrid. I said I teach this boy in two weeks very well!
“He was not the player that he is now. He was just a young boy full of talent. He’s a fantastic boy and an amazing football player.”