The dust was still settling from Sevilla’s eye-catching 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Friday night, when news began to emerge that another one of Los Nervionenses’ key men could be heading for the exit.
Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas both departed for Manchester City earlier in the close-season, while a whole host of squad players were ditched, but until Friday it seems likely that they would keep hold of their other important squad members.
Ivan Rakitic had been named club captain, Geoffrey Kondogbia refused to push for a transfer and others such as Gary Medel were hardly being mentioned in newspaper or website gossip columns.
Briefly the 26-year-old Chilean had been reportedly lined up by Everton as a replacement for Marouane Fellaini, but such talk was based on big ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’, with the Belgian seemingly content at Goodison Park for the time being.
President Jose Maria Del Nido and sporting director Ramon ‘Monchi’ Rodriguez made it known that they planned to build their new-look squad around the talented trio of Rakitic, Medel and Kondogbia, but few will argue with their decision to let ‘El Pitbull’ loose.
Del Nido claimed on Monday that Sevilla and Doyen Group had agreed not to sell Kondogbia this season, perhaps influencing the sale of Medel. One thing that is clear is the former Boca Juniors star’s departure came out of the blue.
Hours after Vitolo, Marko Marin and Bryan Rabello goals secured the win in Manchester, ABC claimed newly-promoted English Premier League club Cardiff City were close to securing Medel’s signing, reports which were of course met with much trepidation from all sides.
However, everything developed very quickly and Medel was in Cardiff the very next morning. Eventually the signing was confirmed, with a €13 million fee mooted.
Del Nido called the offer “irresistible”, an understandable comment when it is considered that the midfielder cost €6m. Medel will be missed by Sevilla fans, but their patience had worn thin with him at times last season.
Although it was arguably his best year performance-wise, he continuously seemed to get himself drawn into needless confrontations on the pitch as he picked up three red cards.
He was also involved in a clash at a nightclub in his homeland. If there is trouble to be had, Medel will find it.
Yet, his ‘hard man’ nature distracts from his overall abilities. Writers and broadcasters only want to focus on the outrageous, the controversial. Primarily he is a destructive force in midfield who likes to kick people, wind them up and get into arguments. He could probably argue against the validity of gravity.
However, he is significantly more than that. He is perfectly comfortable on the ball and he possesses very assured control as well as poise. Defensive-minded he may be, but he is not afraid to get forward as highlighted by his six league goals last season.
His passing is also surprisingly good as he recorded an 87% success rate last year, while his man marking role on Lionel Messi during the 2011-12 season earned rave reviews.
Cardiff fans should be prepared to be frustrated by some of his antics, but his excellent performances will outweigh the poor ones by far.