Offside Rule’s Alexandra Jonson takes a look at Sevilla’s astonishing success as she reveals the secrets that have the Los Blanquirrojos players firing on all cylinders.
Last season Sevilla FC won the Europa League for the third consecutive time. They reached a Copa del Rey final and in the Spanish League amassed 52 points, the most in their history.
Then in the summer they lost their coach, Unai Emery, to PSG and sold some of their best players too, including Kevin Gameiro and Grzegor Krychowiak.
That is nothing new. After selling Jesús Navas and Álvaro Negredo in 2013 they won the Europa League in 2014. Captain Ivan Rakitic left for Barcelona and they won the Europa League again in 2015. Aleix Vidal and top scorer Carlos Bacca left before their third victory.
There is no club better than Sevilla at bouncing back when losing vital players. They find new ones in ways no one else does. Sevilla are used to change, yet this summer it was different.
Thirteen players left, 11 came in. There was also new coach but more than anything, a new style and a new model.
Jorge Sampaoli was the man handpicked by Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo “Monchi”, the Sevilla sporting director who’s become the club’s biggest star. It was a bold, risky move and Monchi even warned the board that they all could be in trouble.
Still 26 match days in and Sevilla have already collected more points (56) than they did during the entire of last season. They are three points behind Real Madrid in the league table and four behind Barcelona. When Zinedine Zidane was asked if Sevilla could win it his answer was “of course”.
They are still in the Champions League too, expected to knock Leicester out and progress to the quarter-finals. They may be out of the Copa del Rey but Ben Yedder is still the top scorer with 5 goals in the tournament. He’s Sevilla’s top scorer too 15 goals in all competitions.
Still Yedder isn’t the star of the team and neither is Vietto (10 goals), Sarabia (9) nor Iborra (8). No, that would be Steven N’Zonzi and Samir Nasri who aren’t just Sevilla’s best players but the entire league’s statistically (excluding Lionel Messi).
Yes, that’s the same Steven N’Zonzi that failed to make a mark at Stoke and Blackburn and the same Samir Nasri that stumbled at Manchester City. For Sevilla, they are the spine and the oxygen of the team, according to Sampaoli.
They are not the first player’s to come to Sevilla having failed elsewhere only to succeed here. The list is long and the man who gets the credit is Monchi and his team. They have sold over €250m of talent all while completing the most successful decade in the club’s history, winning nine trophies.
“We are more a business now than a football club”, Monchi told AFP. Still in a world where more and more football clubs turns into to businesses Sevilla is something else.
They buy and sell players, earn a profit but they also care. That’s one of the big secrets to why players strive when they arrive here.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Sid Lowe in November, Vitolo noted so saying that Sevilla revive players by giving them “affection, making them feel important and appreciated”
While Pablo Sarabia was on the same track in an interview with goal.com saying “It is a family club that gives you want you need, they give us affection and the player is only worried about performing well.”
“A player is a person and a footballer” Monchi explained for Sevilla paper Estadio Deportivo. Saying that sometimes the footballer fails because he is not in his right environment but that he “never forget his football”.
According to the Sevilla sporting director it’s therefore necessary to help the player to regain form.
“We try to make the person feel good so that the football can appear” he says.
When asked about the sudden explosion of Samir Nasri since he came to Sevilla Vitolo told El Confidecial that “I think he was just lacking affection and we have given that to him. There are no more secrets than that.”
This is what makes Sevilla different and it’s what make Sevilla successful. More than one outstanding sporting director, an almost insane coach and a city more beautiful than most – it’s a club that cares about its players.
At Sevilla the superstar is the sporting directer and maybe that has played its part in more ways than one. N’Zonzi and Nasri might be the best performing players’ in La Liga but the pressure on them is not anywhere near what it would have been had they played for Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Manchester City.
The player’s at Sevilla are at ease, they are enjoying their football but more than that they are enjoying their life.
Adding to that, Jorge Sampaoli has made his team believe that they can beat anyone and that they can win anything. It’s all about Ilusión, (hope, desire, enthusiasm).
They’re never afraid and they never hide. I’s all about attacking, scoring goals and being bold.
Ilusión, harmony – that’s Sevilla.
Let Alex know your thoughts by tweeting @AlexandraJonson, and of course get in touch @OffsideRulePod – We get it!