Summer Transfer Business
After last summer saw the returning Monchi oversee a wholesale overhaul of the squad, Sevilla have been relatively quiet so far this year, with the only business being Suso’s loan from AC Milan being made permanent, the arrival of Óscar Rodriguez from Real Madrid on the back of an excellent season on loan at Leganés and the return of former club captain Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona.
Óscar and Rakitic will help fill the gap left by the departure of the mercurial Ever Banega, off to wind down his career in the Middle East and they will miss Sergio Reguillón, who looks set to move elsewhere after his loan from Real Madrid was not extended.
Few have experienced such a rapid and brutal fall from grace as Julen Lopetegui did in the latter half of 2018, from potential national treasure to traitor to laughing stock in the space of four months. So when he was appointed Sevilla manager last summer, he had a point to prove.
His debut season on the bench at the Sánchez-Pizjuan was not all plain-sailing, after a good start, Sevilla wobbled in the winter and when they came within a VAR-disallowed injury time goal from going out of Europe to CFR Cluj in February, there were chants for him to go.
But after the restart, Sevilla hit the ground running and overhauled their rivals in the Champions League chase and then defeated Roma, Wolves, Man Utd and Inter to lift the Europa League. Few would begrudge Lopetegui his success and he’s well-placed to build on it in the coming season.
Player to Watch
Playmaker, goalscorer, occasional goalkeeper, Lucas Ocampos had quite the debut season in La Liga after arriving from Marseille for a bargain €15m. In 44 appearances across all competitions, he scored 17 goals including strikes home and away against Betis and the vital goal against Wolves in the Europa League quarter-finals. Though the thing which undoubtedly secured his cult hero status was his turn in goal at the end of the match with Eibar, where he made a vital stop to preserve the win for Sevilla.
One for the Future
Another one of Monchi’s inspired signings last summer, Jules Kounde adapted quickly to life in La Liga and formed one of the league’s best defensive partnerships with Diego Carlos. Kounde is still only 21, but already displays all the qualities of being a world-class centre-back for many years to come. It’s a testament to the depth of resources that France have at their disposal that he has only just made his debut for their Under-21 team.
Anything less than a repeat of last season’s top-four finish will be viewed as a failure for Sevilla. Whether they can push on any further will likely depend on whether Luuk de Jong can translate his knack of scoring in big games into finding the back of the net more consistently or a settled-in Youssef En-Nesyri can step up to lead the attack. Intelligent signings like Rakitic and Óscar should help Sevilla build on last season and get a bit closer to the top sides.