There has been no shortage of rumours linking Alvaro Negredo with a move away from Sevilla this summer. The striker has 17 goals in La Liga this season – 15 from open play, which is one more than Radamel Falcao – and has supposedly drawn glances from Tottenham, Everton and only this week Borussia Dortmund. Elsewhere the performances of the creative Croatian Ivan Rakitic will not have gone unnoticed and Geoffrey Kondogbia, a young French midfielder tipped for big things, watches as his price escalates with each good performance.
Reality bites and, like a lot of teams in Spain, that reality is that when the season ends and the swap shop begins, Sevilla are liable to lose their better players. In December the club announced losses amounting to over €15m, which combines to give the club a total debt of close to €50m. President Jose Maria del Nido, who is far from universally liked by fans, has renegotiated some parts of the debt, but that only goes a tiny way to solving their problem.
Players are said to be owed money and while Los Rojiblancos continue to operate at costs which need to be cut, they are in a position of weakness should it come to negotiating the sales of their star assets this summer.
But there is nothing like a derby in football to help brush everything under the carpet. Sevilla's fantastic start to the season – they defeated Real Madrid and were only beaten at the death by Barcelona – lost its legs, although the 5-1 win at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan against city rivals Real Betis restored a certain, albeit brief, feel good factor among the club's supporters. When they meet for the return fixture on Friday night, there will be more than just local pride at stake.
Since they last met, Del Nido and sporting director Monchi yielded the axe upon Coach Michel – an expense they could have done without – and replaced him with Unai Emery. Under the stewardship of the former Valencia Coach you could argue they have improved and it would a stronger viewpoint still should they get over their misdemeanours on the road and win at Los Beticos – with just seven points they have the second worst away record in La Liga so far this term.
Beating Betis would cut the gap on them and Malaga to three points and, with seven games left, would put them in with a realistic chance, or at least maintain the belief within the club, of qualifying for Europe. With qualification for Europe comes money, Sevilla need the money… Connect the dots.
Stating the obvious, Del Nido said this week: "“We are trying to qualify for European competition, yes. It is the aspiration of Sevilla to do so." However he added the caveat that, despite being well known, no Sevilla fans wanted to hear: "Failure to achieve the goal will see us make some sales that will cause discontent, but nothing happened when players like Sergio Ramos, Julio Baptista and Jose Antonio Reyes left."
The short term gain of winning the Derbi Sevillano is just the beginning of an idyllic future for the club. Next comes European football and then they'll need to focus on bringing through more players like their impressive young left-back Albeto Moreno, or unearthing gems like Kondogbia, because it's likely to be a long time until they're able to flex any muscles in the transfer market.