Diogo Jota has been sold to Liverpool for an initial £41million – a club-record departure – while defender Ki-Jana Hoever has come in from the Reds, writes Joe Edwards.
Wolves had already signed Fabio Silva for £35m, brought in two others in Fernando Marcal and Vitinha, and handed a new three-year contract to boss Nuno Espirito Santo this summer, of course.
Now, they take on City after kicking off the Premier League season with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United but then exiting the Carabao Cup with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Stoke last Thursday. What a rollercoaster ride it has been, and this meeting with City at Molineux certainly does not represent things slowing down.
There has barely been a quiet day for Wolves over the past few weeks.
Now, they are without a fans’ favourite in Jota who has left for the Premier League champions, but the remit is the same.
“We have to keep on going, trusting that we have good options inside of our squad. We’ll be OK,” said Nuno. “With or without Diogo, we must be stronger because the challenge ahead of us is more difficult than before.
“This is what we have to do, to be stronger than before.”
Jota had slipped down the pecking order at the end of last season and entering this campaign, with compatriots Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence preferred in support of Raul Jimenez.
And on whether those two have the potential to be better than the outgoing Jota, Nuno said: “Not only Pedro and Daniel, but all the players have to grow and improve.
“It’s not about individuals, it’s about a squad that has to come together and face the challenges ahead.”
Speaking of challenges, the onus is on other Wolves players stepping up on the goal front after the departure of Jota – and Matt Doherty’s move to Tottenham.
The pair were the second and third top scorers for Nuno’s charges across all competitions last term, chipping in with 16 and seven goals respectively.
Jimenez is expected to be the main source of goals once again, but he will need support, with the likes of Neto, Podence and maybe even Silva as a substitute aiming to get off the mark against Pep Guardiola’s outfit tonight.
“We must. What Diogo and Matt gave us, we have to find in another place in the team,” said Nuno. “I’m confident we can do that. There were goals in Matt and Diogo, so players must step up and achieve the same number of goals.
“We know it’s hard, but we are confident on it.”
So, what about City? This is their first game of 2020/21 after experiencing, like Wolves, a very short close season because of their European exploits last time around.
Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte – two key players – are set to miss out. Riyad Mahrez has had less time on the training pitch after testing positive for Covid-19, Bernardo Silva is a doubt while Phil Foden may be left out after his England transgression.
Nuno – who will only be without the ineligible Hoever – admits it is a weird time to be playing them, but expects a very tough challenge as ever.
“It’s a weird time for every team as there was such a quick turnaround,” he added. “It’s new for everybody, but we know how good Man City are.
“Everybody knows, so we cannot expect anything different than a very, very tough and demanding game for us. The players have to be ready.”