Season preview: Sevilla

Season preview: Sevilla
© PA Photos
Sports Mole assesses whether Sevilla can recover from the loss of key players to secure European football next season.

Despite boasting one of the best home records in the league last season, Sevilla were made to settle for a ninth-place finish in Spain's top flight.

They have lost arguably their two best players, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, to Manchester City this summer, but there has been reinvestment in the squad.

Here, Sports Mole assesses whether Sevilla can improve on their disappointing campaign in the new season.

In: Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain), Carlos Bacca (Club Brugge), Vitolo (Las Palmas), Jairo (Racing), Raul Rusescu (Steaua), Beto (Braga), Diogo Figueiras (Pacos Ferreira), Nicolas Pareja (Spartak Moscow – Loan), Marko Marin (Chelsea – Loan), Daniel Carrico (Reading – Loan)

Out: Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Luis Alberto (Liverpool), Antonio Luna (Aston Villa), Jose Campana (Crystal Palace), Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Miroslav Stevanovic (Elche – Loan), Alberto Botia (Elche – Loan), Lautaro Acosta (Lanus), Manu del Moral (Elche - Loan), Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon), Andres Palop (Bayer Leverkusen), Alexis (Getafe)

Last season: Ninth

Manager: Unai Emery

Three key players:

Kevin Gameiro© PA Photos
Kevin Gameiro: After losing Negredo to Manchester City, it was important that Sevilla brought in a ready-made replacement. When Paris Saint-Germain purchased Edinson Cavani this summer, it quickly became apparent that Gameiro would be fighting a losing battle at the French outfit next season. That prompted Sevilla into a move for the 26-year-old, who is expected to lead their line in the new campaign. One thing is for certain, Gameiro is a goalscorer. Prior to joining PSG in 2011, Gameiro struck 56 goals in 120 games for Lorient, while his total of 23 in 78 for PSG is also respectable when taking into account the number of times he appeared from the bench. He simply has to have a big season if Sevilla are to maintain their standards.

Ivan Rakitic© PA Photos
Ivan Rakitic: The 25-year-old has been strongly linked with a move away from the club this summer, but it does appear that the Croatian has committed his long-term future to the Spanish outfit. One thing is for certain, if Sevilla are to enjoy a successful campaign, they need the midfielder on top form. He managed eight goals in 32 league appearances last season, while he also registered 10 assists, the joint-fourth highest in the division. The fact that he can operate in a number of midfield positions will also be key for the club in the new season.

Geoffrey Kondogbia© PA Photos
Geoffrey Kondogbia: In terms of young midfielders in world football, there are not too many that are as in-demand as Kondogbia. The 20-year-old joined the Spanish side from Lens in 2012, where his performances have placed him as one of the most exciting talents in La Liga. It is no surprise that a number of European clubs, both at home and abroad, have been linked with his services this summer, but it does appear that he will remain with Sevilla, for this season at least. Although the youngster has not yet gained full recognition from France, it would be a surprise if he were not part of their World Cup squad next summer. Sevilla may have lost a host of attacking talent this summer, but they still possess one of the best central midfields in the division.

First game: Atletico Madrid (H) Aug 18

Sports Mole says: It is not too difficult to see where Sevilla struggled last season with 40 of their 50 points coming on their home patch. In fact, only Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid won more points at home last season than Sevilla. Just the one victory arrived on the road, however, with their record of 10 points on their travels the joint-worst in the division alongside Celta Vigo and Real Mallorca. They may have lost Negredo and Navas this summer, but Unai Emery has bought well with the acquisitions of Gameiro and Marko Marin, who joined on loan from Chelsea. If the club can improve their away record, then there is no reason why they cannot battle for a European place in the new campaign.

Predicted finish: Eighth

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