The last ten years have been quite extraordinary for Sevilla as they picked titles at home and in Europe before crashing back to earth with the last two seasons producing distinctly average results.
Despite the peaks and falls of the previous decade, there is one area of the pitch in which they have always had quality – attack. However, the club heads into what has been called a ‘new era’ without a tried and tested partnership or combination. It would be understandable for doubt to be gnawing away within the minds of supporters.
During the spells of Luis Fabiano, Frederic Kanoute and Alvaro Negredo, when new forwards arrived, there was already at least one established starter, taking the signings of Javier Chevanton, Arouna Kone, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Baba Diawara into account, but not this time.
Carlos Bacca (€7 million from Club Brugges), Kevin Gameiro (€7.5m from Paris Saint-Germain) and Raul Rusescu (€2.5m from Steaua Bucharest) are the players who have been tasked with filling the void left by Negredo, and thus far supporters are generally optimistic about the arrivals.
For the last two years Sevilla have mostly played with one out-and-out forward – Negredo – with an attacking midfielder or Kanoute deployed behind him. The Malian’s age and fitness problems meant he was not relied upon in such a demanding fashion, as highlighted by his tally of just four League goals in his final season for the club.
The unconvincing Baba has become the butt of all jokes among Sevillistas and it is clear he is not rated by coach Unai Emery, leaving Bacca, Gameiro and Rusescu to fight it out for the starting roles.
Once again it seems Sevilla have the genuine possibility of playing two respectable forwards in attack. Bacca, who has drawn comparisons with Fabiano, is a well-rounded player who possesses excellent movement of the ball and lovely control on it, while his haul of 28 League goals in 45 appearances in Belgium proves he can finish moves.
The signing of Gameiro is among the most eye-catching and impressive this summer. Although not necessarily a key player at PSG, according the Squawka.com the Frenchman boasted a better chance conversion rate (30.8%) than Cristiano Ronaldo (18%) last season and managed eight goals in Ligue 1, despite just seven of his 25 appearances coming as a starter.
Rusescu has already endured a relatively tough start to life in Spain after he turned up to preseason training overweight. The fans were quick to get on his back and criticise him, but he appears to be winning them over, one at a time.
A good performance in the Trofeo Carranza versus Cadiz and Atletico Tetuan proved the physical attacker is more than just a battering ram. He showed plenty of ability on the ball, self-confidence, determination and that he is comfortable dropping back to get involved.
It remains to be seen whether any of these will have the impact of someone like Negredo, but what is certain is that Emery has options. A 4-4-2 formation is genuinely viable, while he can just as easily revert to last season’s 4-2-3-1. The new men may need time, but it should not be forgotten that Fabiano and Kanoute only managed 11 La Liga goals between them in their first term.