2016-17 Season Preview: Sevilla

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Key signings: Wissam Ben Yedder, Luciano Vietto, Franco Vazquez

Key sales: Ever Banega, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Kevin Gameiro

Last season: 5th

This season (predicted finish): 4th

Even by Sevilla’s standards, it has been a summer of immense change and uncertainty, but also one of hope. Nine additions have so far joined the ranks, while eleven of last season’s first-team squad have sought pastures new. There has also been a change in the dugout, with Unai Emery departing for Paris Saint-Germain and being replaced by the highly-rated Argentine traier Jorge Sampaoli. But all that is only half the story.

Sporting director Monchi, the architect of the club’s unprecedented success in the last decade, declared publicly that he wanted out before being persuaded to stay. Sampaoli, less than a month after his official appointment, was officially contacted by the Argentine FA – his “dream job”. Both have come out to declare their loyalty to the club, but such uncertainty and episodes do little to suggest that another summer of mass overhaul is not many seasons away.

Of the departures, many are vital. Holding midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak was made Emery’s first signing in the French capital after the diminutive Ever Banega’s Bosman move to Inter. Deadly striker Kevin Gameiro – scorer of 66 goals in his three campaigns at the club – moved to Atletico Madrid, while both the Captain and vice-skipper (Coke and Jose Antonio Reyes) have also called time on their spells at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Yet it is also a time of hope. Sampaoli is a Coach who is highly-thought of by many after his exploits with the Chilean national team and a professed disciple of fellow countryman Marcelo Bielsa. A lover of attacking, pressing football, this team will again be great fun to watch this campaign.

His style of management is mirrored in his recruits – six of whom are midfielders. Hiroshi Kiyotake, Pablo Sarabia, Joaquin Correa and Franco Vazquez will add plenty of creativity, with Ganso and Matias Kranevitter providing the guile. Both attacking arrivals – Luciano Vietto and Wissam Ben Yedder – are both highly promising, but they will be under the weight of great expectation with few others to share the burden with up front. The feisty Gabriel Mercado, the Argentina full-back, is so far the only defensive addition.

Having won a record fifth Europa League last year (the third in succession and fifth in a decade) Sevilla will once more get a crack at Champions League football, and they will fancy their chances of making their mark in Europe’s premier club competition, providing they are dealt an easier draw this time around.

Undoubtedly in possession of a strong squad and a brilliant Coach, they will be a strong bet for a top-four finish in La Liga this campaign, even if the big three will be streets ahead come May.

The club are being linked to yet more possible incomings, Rodrigo Caio and a return for Jesus Navas both seem plausible, and with a long season ahead, it would be no surprise if Monchi was to sanction yet more dealings while he is still in place.