A fourth place finish, their highest in over seven years, while reaching the last 16 of the Champions League should feel like progress, but at ever evolving Sevilla FC, there is still a sense of what could have been this season.

A club record of 42 points and second position in the table at the halfway stage, only ten points away from their entire 2016/17 total, set up the possibility of a title challenge, however a meek second half of the campaign, including five draws and five losses, meant any premature hopes would be dashed.

After taking to a new tactical approach, and integrating many new signings into the system, expectations during the summer were restrained, but the fast, attacking football and positive early results meant hopes quickly shot up for the Andalusians.

Speaking to Marca, Captain Vicente Iborra said: “When we won in Pamplona (against Osasuna in January) we talked about how we could win La Liga.

“It was adding more pressure to the team, and instead of enjoying it, I think it didn’t do us any good.”

A turgid March included a run of five league games without a win, as well as an impotent 2-0 defeat away at Leicester City to crash out of the Champions League, coincided with an increase in the rumours new Manager Jorge Sampaoli would be joining the Argentine national team, and the announcement lauded Director of Football Monchi would depart for Roma in the summer.

Whether the squad was unsettled, injuries, squad rotation or changes to the system contributed, draws at Alaves and at home to Leganes and Gijon, as well as defeat to Atletico and Barcelona during this period meant there had been little to play for in the last two months.

In the wake of their third consecutive Europa League title, a summer of upheaval as is customary for the club saw the departure of key personnel in Krychowiak, Gameiro, Coke and Banega for a fairly hefty financial intake, to be replaced by Nasri, Ben Yedder, Mercado and Vazquez, amongst others.

A new manager in the shape of the highly coveted Sampaoli, replacing Unai Emery, and the retention of Monchi, meant a new chapter for a club looked to build upon recent successes.

The early honeymoon period gave way to harsh realities of a squad riding an early wave of optimism and energy, finding themselves lost and disjointed when the games started to come thick and fast.

There have certainly been many positives to this campaign. The return from injury of Nico Pareja in defence who missed the last campaign, the signings of Pablo Sarabia for €1M and who led the team on assists, and of 21-year-old Clement Lenglet from Nancy in January, who already looks a comfortable player in La Liga.

It was encouraging at the speed at which the side picked up the high intensity pressing demanded by Sampaoli, which led to such a stunning, exciting and surprising start to the season, and the form of Samir Nasri on loan in a deeper playmaking role, linking with player of the year Steven N’Zonzi in central midfield.

Beating city rivals Real Betis home and away, the 2-1 league win over Real Madrid in January with Stevan Jovetic scoring his first league goal and the last day dispatching of already relegated Osasuna 5-0 show there is a lot of talent and fight in this side.

As always, half the battle is fought in the transfer market. That’s just the way the club is run.

Searching for players to improve the side while turning a profit may be unchartered territory for the club now without the guidance of Monchi, however keeping together the heart of this side in the shape of goalkeeper Sergio Rico, Escudero, Vitolo, Sarabia, Mariano, Pareja and Iborra must be key for continuity.

Winger Vitolo is inviting admiring looks from Barcelona and elsewhere after another fine year, that included breaking into the Spain set-up.

There will surely be other offers for key personnel, and at Sevilla, everyone is for sale is the price is right.

Nasri surely won’t return after his loan spell, with his wage demands prohibitive and Man City keen to sell, as well the drop of in his second-half of the season form.

It would also be a surprise if either Vietto or Kranevitter returned again after their loan spells from Atletico, with Vietto looking short on confidence in front of goal and Kranevitter an incapable replacement for N’Zonzi when called upon.

The new manager may have to focus on a new goal scorer as an option to Ben Yedder, who fell out of favour, however recruiting a player with the quality of former strikers like Gameiro or Bacca is never easy.

This season has then been a step too far for Sevilla to genuinely challenge Real or Barcelona, and whose financial clout casts a shadow over the rest of the league, while Atletico have a solid platform of manager and players established over a number of years now.

The struggle to topple the true leaders of Spanish football will continue with another fresh start for Los Nervionenses.

As usual, the hard work towards next season starts with a busy summer of transfers, as always at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

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