Porto sack Julen Lopetegui, ex-Valencia coach Nuno linked

Porto have sacked manager Julen Lopetegui after a poor run of results, with reports linking ex-Valencia coach Nuno Espiritu Santo as his potential replacement.

Lopetegui, who played for Real Madrid and Barcelona as a goalkeeper, and managed Spain's youth teams up to U21 level before joining Porto in 2014, initially impressed as the Portuguese side finished second behind champions Benfica and shocked Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg before being eliminated 7-4 on aggregate.

However, this season has not gone so well for the 49-year-old. Porto are in third spot in the Liga Sagres after drawing 1-1 with Rio Ave and losing 2-0 to leaders Sporting Lisbon in their last two games, while they also narrowly missed out on qualification to the UCL knockout rounds after losing 2-0 to Chelsea in their final group game.

As a result, reports in the Spanish press claimed that former Porto goalkeeper Nuno -- who was replaced by Gary Neville at Valencia last November -- had already been sounded out about the job.

News that the axe had finally fallen on Lopetegui came via a Porto club statement on Friday morning, which added that club stalwart Rui Barros would take interim control.

"The board of FC Porto has taken the decision to change the technical team lead by Julen Lopetegui," the statement said. "This means that training will be taken by Rui Barros, who will take over as interim coach. FC Porto and Julen Lopetegui are at this moment negotiating the terms of rescission of the contract."

Other names which have been mentioned as possible permanent replacements include ex-Porto, Chelsea and Spurs manager Andre Villas Boas, who has said he will leave current club Zenit Saint Petersburg at the end of the season. While Jose Mourinho is also a free agent having left Chelsea before Christmas.