Sevilla v Dortmund a contest between two masters of recruitment

Richard Martin
·3-min read

By Richard Martin

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Few clubs can rival Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund when it comes to hiring talented youngsters on the cheap and turning them into transfer gold and the two leaders in talent spotting come face to face in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Dortmund possess arguably the best young striker in the world in 20-year-old Erling Haaland while their attack is complemented by England winger Jadon Sancho, also 20, and 18-year-old Giovanni Reyna plus veteran Marco Reus.

Midfielder Jude Bellingham, 17, meanwhile, is having an impressive breakthrough season while Cameroonian striker Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his debut in November just after turning 16, has scored two goals in two Bundesliga starts.

Dortmund may not be having their best domestic season and on Monday revealed they will be replacing current coach Edin Terzic with Marco Rose, but Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui said he would not be fooled by their position of sixth in the Bundesliga.

"We don't just look at their final results, we see Dortmund's power, the chances they create and the attacking quality they have," he told a news conference ahead of the first leg at home.

Norwegian striker Haaland, who has scored 39 goals since switching from RB Salzburg last year for 20 million euros ($24.22 million), is Dortmund's best-known young player and was courted by Manchester United before choosing the Germans.

United also chased Sancho, Dortmund's second most productive player this season with nine goals and 10 assists, but baulked at his reported 120-million-euro price tag.

Lopetegui added: "Haaland is one of the breakout stars in world football and has a remarkable repertoire despite his age. But he is not the only one. They are a complete side in attack."

Dortmund have a fine tradition turning young players into transfer gold, such as selling Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona for 105 million euros or Christian Pulisic to Chelsea for 64 million when each player was still 20.

One of their few rivals in that arena is Sevilla, whose sporting director Monchi is accustomed to replacing practically entire squads each year while continuing to unearth new gems.

French central defender Jules Kounde, plucked from Bordeaux in 2019, is the current flavour of the month at the Spanish club after scoring a jaw-dropping solo goal against Barcelona last week.

Then there's Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri, 23, who has scored 13 goals this season including two hat-tricks in January after joining last year from Spanish minnows Leganes.

Yet Monchi, who was headhunted by AS Roma in 2017 before returning to his hometown club two years later, is not just adept at identifying youngsters.

He has helped the likes of Steven Nzonzi and Ever Banega resurrect fading careers in the past while tempting former club servants Jesus Navas and Ivan Rakitic back and watching them have continued success.

Another recent success story is goalkeeper Bono, who was signed on loan from relegated Girona in 2019 and became a towering presence in their run to last year's Europa League title to stay number one this season.

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(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)