Inter have reportedly swooped on Sevilla to take Ever Banega for next season, the midfielder’s contract expiring and the Serie A giants picking up one of Europe’s most cultured midfielders for absolutely nothing. It’s a big loss but Sevilla suffer big losses every summer, and come back as strong as ever. 2016 might be different, though, as with Vicente del Bosque apparently set on retiring as Spain Coach, Unai Emery is in the frame to succeed him.
There are other possibilities than the Sevilla trainer to step in for Del Bosque. Paco Jemez, of Rayo Vallecano, has been touted and he has said he’d be interested, but it would mark quite the change in approach to go from the more conservative and vastly experienced Del Bosque to the younger, more radical Jemez.
Rafa Benitez would likely get a mention but there’d surely be little popular support after his Madrid tenure ended so quickly and in such acrimony, and Pep Guardiola has said he’s going to England, so that rules him out, not that he was ever a realistic choice at this stage of his career. Emery then has the right credentials – a big name with a track record of success, a style of play compatible with the squad he would inherit and, maybe most importantly, he’s not necessarily handcuffed to the bench at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Emery flirted with West Ham and Milan in summer 2015 before committing to Sevilla. If he was honestly tempted by the Hammers and the Rossoneri, a mid-table Premier League team and a fallen Serie A giant, it seems reasonable to assume he would be interested in the vacancy with La Roja. It’s not that simple, of course – Emery may prefer the day-to-day of working with a group of players, not the long periods of inactivity experienced by a national team boss, but it’s an opening that might arise at the right time.
Banega’s exit sees Emery lose a player with whom he has worked closely before, at Valencia, and with whom he has developed a bond. Banega thanked Emery and Sevilla sporting director Monchi for taking him to Nervion after May’s Europa League final, after the Argentine endured a torrid time at Mestalla. Banega specifically cited Emery as the reason he moved to Sevilla, but now he is leaving him behind. It may be a wake-up call to Emery – that however much he likes life at his current club, when there’s an opportunity it’s best to take it.
There are though a lot of moving parts. Del Bosque may yet be talked into staying on, or the Spanish Football Federation may have a new President – particularly if the long-serving Angel Maria Villar can’t explain his questionable loan to Recreativo Huelva. One of the many other sound candidates may be favoured – Ernesto Valverde or Quique Sanchez Flores, perhaps. But Emery might never get this chance again. And Sevilla will not only have to replace Banega, but Emery too. Monchi will have his work cut out for him.