This season: Girona won at Real Madrid. They won at Valencia. They defeated Sevilla. They drew at Barcelona. They drew three times against Atletico Madrid. Despite all this, Girona were relegated from La Liga. The Catalan club celebrated their first ever promotion to the top flight two years ago but their adventure, for now, is over.
After last year’s top half finish, the prospect of relegation was not one that was obviously on the table going into this season. Charismatic and energetic boss Pablo Machin left for Sevilla, but the appointment of Eusebio Sacristan appeared to be a steady hand coming in to steer the ship, having performed reasonably at Real Sociedad over three years.
For most of the season it appeared that Girona would expectedly achieve less than the previous campaign but would be clear from relegation. Huesca and Rayo Vallecano’s fate had been clear for months but Girona’s capitulation did not start until late March. They lost nine of their last ten matches and on the penultimate weekend, slipped into the bottom three.
The question now is – what comes next? Eusebio has already resigned, waiving the remaining year on his contract, but a number of star players are set to follow him. Most obvious of which is Uruguayan striker Cristhian Stuani – who netted an incredible 40 goals across his two seasons in La Liga. Stuani’s recently penned a new deal which takes him through until 2022 with the Catalan club with a reported market value of €20m. He has been linked with a summer deal to Barcelona but, at his age, he may go for a starting position elsewhere.
Attack-minded midfielder Portu is also certain to leave. Linked to both Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo, he weighed in with an impressive 20 goals in the league across the two seasons. Midfield duo Pere Pons and club captain Alex Grannell have spent a combined 12 years at the club but may be on the radar of La Liga clubs this summer too.
The City Football Group – whose most notable club includes Manchester City – holds a 44.3% stake in Girona but they do not appear to be too concerned about their demotion. Indeed, a club in Spain’s second tier may in some aspects be preferable to one in the first. There would be lower costs, a higher chance of loanees gaining game-time and the club gaining a solid footing as a leading team outside the top-flight.
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