Sevilla take on Real Betis this Sunday in the Seville Derby – with both teams having a fairly low key start to the campaign.
After a terrible start Sevilla are now picking up points – but remain just four points off the relegation zone on 16 points. However for Betis, who last year pushed for a Champions League place, it has been a season to forget.
They sit bottom of the table on just nine points from their 13 games played.
So this is already a very important match – even before you add to the mixer the fact it is a local derby.
One thing that is for sure is this – Ivan Rakitic will play a vital role in the result of this fixture.
The Croatian, who has just returned from international glory against Iceland that saw his nation qualify for the World Cup, has been the standout player at the Sanchez Pizjuan this season – and there is little wonder why the club are so intent on tying him down to a long-term deal.
He has previously been courted by Lokomotiv Moscow and Liverpool – so Sevilla know his name is now in transfer circles. With his contract expiring in 18 months the club know it is necessary to tie him down to a deal as soon as possible.
But Rakitic is biding his time on any deal, despite admitting he is happy at Sevilla:
“Two weeks ago the club offered me an extension. I feel the confidence of the President and the director of football, while I’m comfortable with everyone at the club. Nonetheless, I prefer to wait and at the moment just want to concentrate on my football, on the derby game against Real Betis this week. I will make the decision when the time is right. But as I said, I’m very happy in Sevilla, where my wife Raquel is from.”
He certainly seems happy, and he could rather innocently be telling the truth – that he simply wants to focus on playing before agreeing anything with the club.
Or indeed he could be waiting to see where they are in six months’ time.
Rakitic is now 25-years-old – and reaching a point in his career where he must decide on his future plans.
He could remain at Sevilla beyond his 26th birthday – but a player with his quality can certainly make the grade elsewhere.
He has scored seven goals and made three more in his 12 La Liga games this term – while he has also been in superfluous form in the UEFA Europa League this campaign.
And if one Premier League team needed him – it would be Manchester United.
This season he has played in several midfield positions for Sevilla – from holding to attacking, and done so with aplomb.
He is exactly the sort of versatile and technically gifted central midfielders that Manchester United need – and with this new delay on a contract, the time to strike is definitely now.
image: © eslee82