Sevilla forward Sarabia, the biggest bargain in Spain
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 21, 2018 07:55 AM
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 11, 2018 file photo, Sevilla's Pablo Sarabia points during their Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match against FC Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena stadium in Munich, Germany. Sevilla’s signing of Pablo Sarabia three years ago has proven to be more than a bargain. It was an authentic steal. Sarabia leads Sevilla with 15 goals in all competitions this season and has helped it stay in the Spanish league title hunt at three points behind front-runner Barcelona. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Sevilla's signing of Pablo Sarabia three years ago has proven to be more than a bargain.
It was an authentic steal.
Leading his team in scoring with 15 goals in all competitions this season, the 26-year-old Sarabia is the driving force behind a Sevilla side in the thick of the Spanish league title hunt — three points behind Barcelona.
Only Lionel Messi, with 20 goals, has scored more times than Sarabia this season for a Spanish club.
"I am (enjoying) the season as far as scoring goals, but the important thing is that the team is near the top and that is what most satisfies me," Sarabia said after netting the second goal in a 2-0 win over Girona last weekend.
Of all the master moves made by former Sevilla sports director Ramon "Monchi" Rodriguez, the snatching up of Sarabia for the reported figure of 400,000 euros (about $460,000) in 2016 might just go down as his shrewdest.
Born in Madrid, Sarabia spent his youth at Real Madrid's training academy and played one match for its senior squad in 2010. The next season he was sold to Getafe, a small team in the capital where he showed flashes of talent but only scored 12 goals in the league and Copa del Rey in four seasons.
Sarabia had also shown promise with Spain's junior teams, helping the under-21 side win the 2011 European Championship.
But nobody, expect perhaps Monchi, got overly excited when he brought Sarabia to Sevilla shortly after Getafe had been relegated to the second division.
Sevilla's attack now flows through Sarabia, a midfielder who is equally threatening when looking to score as setting up his teammates. He has assisted on six goals in the league, helping Sevilla produce the second highest goal tally (29) behind Barcelona (46) this season.
As coach Pablo Machin has put it, "the future of Sevilla rests on Pablo Sarabia."
Sarabia will miss Saturday's match against Leganes because of an accumulation of five yellow cards. But the real problems for Sevilla regarding Sarabia could start on Jan. 1 when the transfer window opens.
With a buyout clause of only 18 million euros ($20.5 million), Sarabia remains undervalued and Spanish media reports that Madrid is studying the option of buying him back.
Sevilla sports director Joaquim Caparros said Wednesday that Sarabia — who is under contract until June 2020 — could be pried away, along with midfielder Ever Banega.
"They are players who are in the market and if for financial reasons they decide to leave, we can't do anything," Caparros told Spanish website Muchodeporte. "If a player wants to change teams for a little more money, maybe that is not the type of player that this teams needs.
"There is a limit to what we can do. We want to reinforce our team, but not at any price."