The rupture in relations between Steven N’Zonzi and the coaching staff at Sevilla is damaging for both parties, and the club in particular. The French midfielder has spent the last week training separately from the main group after reacting badly to being substituted at half time in the Champions League draw with Liverpool.
N'Zonzi insinuates Berizzo favouritism
Eduardo Berizzo - who underwent a successful operation as part of his cancer treatment this week - opted to send N’Zonzi for an early bath after a disastrous performance in the first half. Sevilla were 0-3 down at the break but recovered to secure a 3-3 draw. His midfield companion Guido Pizarro was not much better, provoking N’Zonzi to question whether Berizzo favoured him because he is a fellow Argentine.
The episode ended with N’Zonzi leaving the stadium at half time and missing training the following day. Pizarro went on to score the goal that secured the comeback.
World Cup plans could force a detente
The former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City player wanted to leave Sevilla in the summer, but no club met his €40 million release clause. N’Zonzi made his debut for the French national team at the start of November, and that may provide an incentive to resolve the situation. The 28-year-old is clearly in Didier Deschamps’ plans ahead of the 2018 World Cup, but a prolonged spell out of action at Sevilla would damage his chances of a place in the squad for Russia.
It is also in Sevilla’s interests to smooth the turbulent relations. From a financial perspective, N’Zonzi’s value will drop if he is not playing. And on the pitch, the he has shown that he is capable of being one of the most effective creative players in LaLiga.