Cyprus Mail

Europa League champs Sevilla face struggle to keep top talent

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v Sevilla - UEFA Europa League Final

By Toby Davis

Sevilla further underlined their European pedigree with a record fourth Europa League title but now face the more daunting task of converting their continental success into a challenge for domestic honours.

While Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk proved that when it comes to Europe’s second tier competition, they are the undisputed top dogs, having won all of their titles in the last nine years, Sevilla still remain little more than also-rans in La Liga.

Unai Emery’s side showed attacking flare in abundance, scoring 29 goals in 15 games en route to lifting the trophy in Warsaw’s National Stadium.

Yet when it came to the relentless slog of picking up domestic league points they once again fell a long way short of Spain’s duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

They finished fifth this season, 18 points behind Barcelona, and have not finished higher than third in the nine years since then manager Juande Ramos led them to their first European title in 2006.

Their main problem seems to be retaining their best players.

Sevilla are a breeding ground for top talent and few hang around when bigger clubs come calling.

The star names from last season’s Europa League success bade farewell long before this campaign began with Ivan Rakitic joining Barcelona, Alberto Moreno signing for Liverpool and defender Fazio moving to Tottenham Hotspur.

The season before that Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas jumped ship to Manchester City, and Geoffrey Kondogbia signed for Monaco.

For coach Emery this is a hard fact of life.

“I think that we are all committed to growing and we see that there will be a point where a player will have to move on and go somewhere else, but the club will benefit as well,” he told reporters after their Europa League final success.

“We do a great deal of work with Monchi (Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo) the technical director, who is highly recognised.

“He is very good at signing on players and then perhaps selling them on later once they have good performance. This is good financially for the club.”

Yet when even the coach’s future seems to be in doubt, Sevilla retain the appearance of a side constantly in transition.

Emery has yet to commit his future to the club and media reports have linked him strongly with a move away, with the Premier League a possible destination.

“Now is not the time to talk about the future,” he said. “I learned a long time ago that you have to live the present without thinking about the future.”

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