There were doubts over Sevilla’s decision to hire Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach last summer. After all, this was a guy whose last two jobs in the game had ended in humiliation, sacked as Spain boss on the eve of the 2018 World Cup before being sacked as Real Madrid manager just a few months after that.
Lopetegui has done a lot to restore his reputation since pitching up at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan just over a year ago, though. Sevilla finished the 2019/20 La Liga season in fourth and are still in the Europa League, with the Andalusians set to take on Wolves in next week’s quarter finals.
A number of players have thrived under the stewardship of Lopetegui. Ever Banega has enjoyed an exceptional final season at Sevilla, while Diego Carlos has earned himself a reputation as one of the best central defenders in the Spanish game right now, drawing attention from a number of Premier League clubs.
Sergio Reguilon is another who has flourished at Sevilla this season, on loan from Real Madrid, but for all that Lopetegui has taken Sevilla in the right direction, aided by the return of sporting director Monchi to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, there remains one area where they must strengthen to progress further.
Lucas Ocampos was Sevilla’s top league scorer for the 2019/20 season with 14 strikes. Beyond that, Luuk de Jong was the club’s top marksman with only six goals. Contrast this to the 18 La Liga goals Wissam Ben Yedder scored as Sevilla’s number nine last season and the lack of cutting edge in the final third becomes clear.
Indeed, de Jong simply hasn’t done enough since making the move to Sevilla last summer. The Netherlands international played the majority of the season as Lopetegui’s first choice centre forward, but Sevilla must look to find a more reliable goalscorer in this summer’s transfer window.
There is no doubting the progress Sevilla have made under Lopetegui, but there’s only so far they can go while being so toothless in front of goal. Ocampos provides goal threat, but the Argentine needs help. He cannot shoulder the goalscoring burden on his own. De Jong has had his chance and hasn’t been of the necessary standard. Now it’s time for Sevilla to find the true replacement for Ben Yedder.
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