Should Sevilla regret selling Ben Yedder to AS Monaco?
Background Image: Валерий Дед, CC-BY-3.0
A massive auction occurred at Sevilla last summer. Almost €100m found its way to the Andalusians’ coffers. Wissam Ben Yedder was the most valuable commodity on display, yielding almost half that figure. Unsurprisingly, though, his demise is the most felt.
Monchi's return to Sevilla as Sporting Director initiated a new era. The former goalkeeper's first spell was highly successful. On the way to nine trophies, he unearthed some young talents with the help of an intricate network of over 700 scouts around the globe.
Monchi wasted no time to replace Pablo Manchin with Julen Lopetegui. In an attempt to overhaul the squad's identity, five key players departed. Notably Ben Yedder, Pablo Sarabia and Quincy Promes - last season's front three.
Luke de Jong and Moanes Dabbur suggested that Lopetegui wanted different styles of strikers to lead the line. Together with Javier Hernandez, Rony Lopez and Nolito, it would easily have translated to ample firepower in the final third. Well, it hasn't.
Los Nervionenses aren't doing badly in La Liga. They were unlucky to share the spoils with Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Despite losing thrice, the Andalusians are fourth with 21 points – just one adrift of table-toppers Barcelona. The outlook may have taken a different shape with more clinical strikers.
Hernandez, Nolito and Luke de Jong have just four efforts amongst them. Lopes, the most expensive buy, is yet to hit the ground running with a solitary appearance. A bulk of Lopetegui goals have come from midfield. Lucas Ocampos contributed five while Joan Jordan and Franco Vázquez chipped in three and two respectively.
Meanwhile, in France, Ben Yedder is in top gear. Combining efficiency and finesse, the Frenchman leads Ligue 1's scorer's chart with eight goals. He is already racking up the records. The 29-year-old is the fastest Monegasque to reach that tally. His winner against Nantes makes him the first to find the target in six successive matches.
With a low centre of gravity, Ben Yedder is a menace for any opponent. He is showing a knack for being in the right place at the right time, helped in no small part by his futsal-honed touch. He doesn't care much which feet he uses as long as it finds the net.
Monaco finished 17th in Ligue 1 last season, avoiding the relegation play-offs by just two points. They scored just 38 goals. After a winless start to the campaign which spanned six matches, thoughts of another travail surfaced. However, thanks to Ben Yedder’s formidable partnership with Algerian striker Islam Slimani, they are on a five-game winning streak, gradually climbing up the table.
Ben Yedder has always been prolific, though. His breakthrough season at Toulouse yielded 15 goals and four assists in 29 starts. He buried 55 more in three years before heading to Spain. In the same time in the Andalusian capital, the Frenchman struck 70 times - 22 in 29 European matches.
While Ben Yedder's style hasn't changed, his accuracy improved tremendously. In the past, he got 48% of his shots on target. This season has seen him produce a more surgical 78%.
When Lopetegui took charge of Real Madrid last term, his father José Antonio moaned, “they stole 50 goals from my son,” after the club sold Cristiano Ronaldo and didn’t replace him. Ben Yedder isn't in CR7's level but with the Frenchman, half of that tally is guaranteed in Seville.
Don't be surprised if señor José Antonio moans again. This time louder...