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WTF is happening at Sevilla?

Sevilla is currently fighting relegation despite having three World Cup winners and two World Cup semifinalists on the squad. Can they turn it around?

Sevilla is one of the biggest and most recognizable clubs in Spain. They are considered the Europa League kings after winning the competition four times in the last nine years. The club has also finished fourth in La Liga in the last three seasons. For a team not in the Barcelona/Real Madrid tier, it’s pretty impressive stuff.

But Sevilla is currently in the relegation zone after seventeen games despite having a strong squad with three recent World Cup winners such as Alejandro “Papu” Gómez, Marcos Acuña, and Gonzalo Montiel, and two Moroccan World Cup heroes in Yassine Bounou and Youssef En-Nesyri. If they don’t turn it around soon, they might be living life in the Segunda next season.

What in the world is happening to this club?

Poor decisions in the transfer market 

One of the keys to Sevilla’s recent success is Monchi, the transfer guru who has been the director of football at the club for 20 out of the last 23 years. However, even the experts sometimes make mistakes, and the recent summer transfer window just might be Monchi’s worst window while working at the club. He sold Sevilla’s two key defenders Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé for a combined fee of £76 million, a relatively low sum considering how crazy the transfer window is getting with big fees. But the worst part is, he failed to bring in adequate replacements.

Monchi signed 20-year-old French defender Tanguy Nianzou from Bayern Munich, who has high potential but clearly is not ready yet for high-level fútbol. He also signed experienced Brazilian defender Marcão, a similar player to Carlos, but one who has been struggling with injuries. This has resulted in the club having to use the likes of Kike Salas and José Ángel Carmona from the youth team, and central midfielders like Nemanja Gudelj and Fernando for centerback postions. The results have been disastrous. 

They have conceded 26 goals so far in seventeen games after only conceding 30 in 38 games last season and 33 a season before. It’s no wonder why they are struggling so much given that their strongest area in the last few years has turned into their weakest area this season. 

Unable to make coaching change in time

Julen Lopetegui will go down as one of the best managers in the club’s history. He was appointed in the summer of 2019, and under his charge, Sevilla won the Europa League and finished inside the top four in three consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1950s.

However, the club failed to take the next step under him and the progress stagnated. They reached the Champions League knockout stage in the 2020/21 season but got destroyed by Borussia Dortmund. Then in the 2021/22 season, they were knocked out of the group stage in a very easy group with the likes of RB Salzburg, Lille, and Wolsburg. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were then knocked out of the Europa League by West Ham United.

Sevilla was again knocked out of the Champions League group stage this season by Manchester City and Dortmound, and after five losses in eight games, Lopetegui was finally fired. Had they made that decision a couple months earlier, combined with better decisions in the transfer market, they probably wouldn’t be worrying about being relegated right now.

Can Sevilla turn this around?

Sevilla decided to bring back Jorge Sampaoli, who was in charge of the club during the 2016/17 season. The club is hoping for the same results Sampaoli had during his first spell, but so far, things haven’t exactly been working out. After sixteen games under the Argentine manager, Sevilla has won six, drawn five, and lost five. But those figures dropped to just two wins, four draws and four losses in La Liga. They were 16th on the table when he came in, and now they are 18th. Yikes.

It’s clear that Sevilla needs reinforcements in the January transfer window. Monchi has so far signed French defender Loïc Badé on loan from Rennes, but it’s doubtful the 22 year old will be good enough to help solve the club’s serious defensive problems.

The club also terminated the contract of Isco, who struggled after his signing over the summer. They wanted to bring back Pablo Sarabia from PSG but couldn’t compete with Premier League Wolves, a team Lopetegui is now in charge of, for his signature. With just two weeks left until the window closes and given Sevilla’s limited budget, it’s doubtful they can bring in strong reinforcements that can make an immediate impact.

Without much roster improvement, it’s hard to see Sevilla turning things around in the second half of the season. They will probably end up escaping relegation on talent alone, but this will undoubtedly go down as their worst season this century. Serious changes will have to be made at the club after this season ends.