Diego Lopez could end up being one of the signings of the season. Sevilla got him for just €3m and, not only that, the former Real Madrid youth product took a pay cut to join Los Sevillistas. Once scouted by Manchester United and Arsenal, the keeper from Galicia is looking to make his mark at Sevilla and to see a return to recent glory days which saw the club win two UEFA Cups back to back. To do that, though, he must fight for his starting place against Andres Palop, one of the pillars of that successful era.
When it was announced that Lopez had signed for Sevilla more than a few eyebrows were raised. The main reason was that Sevilla already had two decent shot stoppers in their ranks, Palop and Javi Varas. Varas had taken the No 1 spot from Palop in the 2010-11 season and had continued to start regularly at the start of last season. He put in a man of the match display against Barcelona last October that saw him in the headlines after saving a last minute penalty from Leo Messi. Palop was not to be written off though and when Michel Gonzalez was called in to replace Marcelino Garcia Toral, the former Valencia and Euro 2008 winner found himself back in favour.
When Sevilla signed Lopez, though, somebody had to go and it was Varas who would join La Liga new boys Celta Vigo on loan. He left and when doing so had a dig at Palop saying that he did not enjoy a good relationship with him and claiming that he was very cold. Many believed that Lopez would walk straight into the side but there is doubt now as Michel has announced that Palop will be the club captain. Lopez has played this down saying that he always knew that he would face a tough challenge to get into team. One thing that will give him a little extra confidence is that in Spain the captain doesn’t necessarily have to play. An example is Antonio Lopez, ex-Atletico de Madrid, who lifted the Europa League despite playing little or no part in the competition.
Last season Sevilla had problems with internal disputes and were distracted by a court case involving their President Jose Maria del Nido. Michel is determined to start on the right foot and according to Lopez, the team are in a positive frame of mind and very much united. The objective for the season is to get back into Europe and get the team up the table. All believe the squad is there to achieve this, should they be able to keep key players such as Javi Navas. Lopez, like all the squad, is looking forward to the challenge.