Tim Stannard on the eternally changing southern side who give wheeler-dealers a good name - and poor planners a bad one...
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La Liga Loca wouldn’t at all surprised if, one day, Sevilla were thrown out of La Primera for breaking Spain’s attitude to FFP (Frivolous, Flimsy Planning). Namely, by running your club in a cost-effective, even profitable, manner with astute foresight and careful signings, you make everyone else look bad in comparison. Off with their heads, Elche-style.
Sevilla’s forward thinking has always been masterful, with the legendary sporting director Monchi constantly looking several seasons in advance – and succeeding, with back-to-back Europa League titles and a fifth-placed finish to boot, as well as securing Champions League football next season.
Last season’s departures should have left Sevilla a little listless, but instead the club managed to grow stronger and even turn a tidy profit at the same time. The defence lost half its members with the sales of Federico Fazio and Alberto Moreno to Tottenham and Liverpool respectively. Meanwhile, playmaker Ivan Rakitic went to Barcelona for €21 million.
The club merely shrugged off those losses (on the field: certainly not on the balance sheet) by recruiting a whole bag of players, while making an overall profit of around €30m.
Indeed, six of the outfield players that started the Europa League final arrived in Seville last summer, while goalkeeper Sergio Rico was a promotion from the youth team. The newcomers were hardly household names, either, and had many a La Liga scribe cursing: Grzegorz Krychowiak, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Benoit Trémoulinas being particular highlights. "The Polish stopper" became a popular phrase.
In all likelihood, there will be another summer of ins and outs. Aleix Vidal has already gone after just the one year at the Andalusian side – but with an enormous mark-up, joining Barcelona for €18m (a €15m profit). Denis Suárez may well return to Barcelona, halfway through a two-year loan deal, while fellow Barça loanee Gerard Deulofeu will almost certainly be on his way after a failed loan spell down south.
And it’s not all traffic to and from Barcelona (even if the southern side have, over the last 13 years, made a €91m profit from five players they’ve signed and then sold on to the Catalan club).
Southampton have already had a £9m bid rejected for Grzegorz Krychowiak, who is also interesting Arsenal; former Gunner José Antonio Reyes might be looking for one last pay-off in China or Qatar; and Carlos Bacca is going to keep on attracting interest after bagging 27 goals last season.
However, Sevilla appear to be already stocking up in the attacking midfielder department with Celta’s Michael Krohn-Dehli joining on a free transfer and Chelsea’s Gael Kakuta “very close”. Dnipro’s Yevhen Konoplyanka is also a target, but could be a little trickier to bring in.
The biggest signing of all though was the pen of Unai Emery scratching paper, extending his deal to 2017 after fears that he would opt for the career suicide of moving to Milan or Real Madrid. Sevilla’s line-up for the new campaign is likely to be much changed, once again, and just as unpronounceable. But it will be solid, well thought-out and successful. Much like a club where everything there is to be admired.