'We are already a final destination for players,' says Real Betis General Director Ramon Alarcon (Exclusive)
Since 2015, there’ve been few clubs in Europe that have seen a rise similar to that of Real Betis. After having suffered relegation in the 2013-14 season, the Seville-based club have made their way back up to the top flight of Spain on their first attempt under the leadership of Spanish coach Pepe Mel in 2015.
They finished 10th upon their return to LaLiga Santander, following it up with a 15th place finish in 2016/17. Prior to the start of the 2017 season, then-interim coach Alexis Trujillo was replaced by Quique Setien who delivered a mighty impressive 6th placed finish in 2017/18, posting their highest finish on the table since the 2004/05 season.
Betis, over the last couple of years, have stunned LaLiga Santander with some phenomenal displays and have gained a massive following thanks to their expansive style of football. We at Sportskeeda have had the opportunity to catch up with Ramon Alarcon, the General Director of Real Betis and speak to him about the rise of the club and what the future holds for them.
“It feels great, definitely. As you know, we were in the Segunda division just a few years ago,” Ramon began.
“Due to our poor financial state, it was a difficult moment. But, since the new ownership arrived in 2015, the club has been growing steadily. We’ve been playing in the first division, regularly and the club has grown a lot behind the scenes. We’re a lot more professional now, more than tripled our budget in the transfer market and have seen our squad value grow significantly.”
The Andalusian club have developed some phenomenal talents over the last few years, such as the likes of Dani Ceballos, Fabian Ruiz, Giovani Lo Celso and so on. Many such players, though, made the decision to move on and seek different challenges in football. Ceballos was signed by Real Madrid and is currently on loan at Arsenal, Ruiz was signed by Napoli and his replacement Lo Celso was signed by his countryman Mauricio Pochettino for Tottenham Hotspur.
Ramon, though, is confident that the Estadio Benito Villamarín is not a place for players who seek to grow and move on, but a final destination for players. He cited the quality of the players that are already at the club and spoke highly of the current crop of players.
“We are already there, you know,” insisted the Spaniard, when asked about Betis being a potential final destination. “The players here are really enjoying their careers. We have players like (Sergi) Canales, an international player who played for Spain and was at Real Madrid. We have (William) Carvalho who plays constantly with the Portuguese National Team, there’s Nabil Fekir who won the World Cup with France.”
“On the business side of football, there will always be players who would want to make the jump and play in different leagues and win different competitions. This is something that we embrace and go along with situations like that. Such situations occur at other clubs as well, you know, where players want to take a jump which is normal.”
Nabil Fekir joined Los Verdiblancos in the summer of 2019 after the well-documented transfer saga featuring Liverpool, his former club Olympique Lyon and the Frenchman himself. Ramon Alarcon heaped praise on the 26-year-old after his move to Betis, who has made a great start to life in Seville having scored 4 goals and setting up a further 2 in 13 LaLiga appearances.
Speaking on Fekir, the Spaniard said,
“It is absolutely wonderful to have a player like Nabil Fekir in our squad. He’s a great player and I’m sure that he will bring great success to our club, and I can tell you that he is enjoying playing here. At the end, it is always about having quality players in your club and he most certainly is a great player.”
Real Betis have been known to be one of the few clubs in Europe who employ an analytical approach to their transfer business. Identifying transfer targets based on statistical similarities to their ideal targets and using these methods to replace outgoing players have been extremely beneficial to the club, much like Liverpool, who are now at the pinnacle of European football. Betis' General Director spoke proudly of the club's modern approach, saying,
“At our club, we like to think ahead in terms of new technologies that are being used in football. We believe that collection and analysis of this data is key in order to grow in our field. It is also key in order to compete with other clubs and to have stronger financial power. So for us, we believe that this is extremely necessary and we have been working on growing a strong scouting structure as well.”
Many Spanish clubs including the likes of Real Betis and Sevilla have grown in their social media presence over the last few years as well. LaLiga Santander’s efforts into doing the same on a global level have helped the Spanish clubs’ cause and Ramon believes that Betis are doing their best to follow suit.
“We are aligned with LaLiga’s strategies to work on our social media side of things, We are focussing on trying to follow their strategies. We know that LaLiga is doing a great job in India, having conducted many activities over the last year and a half or two with a strong focus on social media and their reach on Facebook in particular. We have different plans for different markets but yes, India is a market for the future and we are going to start partnering with LaLiga and try to grow our stature on social media,” he said.
Ramon also addressed the possibility of Betis entering the Indian football market, following clubs such as Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, who just under a week ago signed a partnership deal with Mumbai City FC. Although the Spaniard was not very optimistic of doing so any time in the near future. Before signing off, Ramon Alarcon said:
“It is something that we have an eye on but it is not something we are looking to focus on any time soon. It is definitely an interesting prospect that we are analysing but at the moment, we have no plans to do something like that in India,”