Sevilla hosting Real will split loyalties of Konoplyanka and Cheryshev

Dmitri Cheryshev was coaching in Kazakhstan when the call came through. On the other end of the line was Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, commonly known as Monchi, Sevilla's acclaimed sporting director. He had a proposal. The club had made a big financial bet on bringing in Ukrainian international Yevhen Konoplyanka and he wanted Cheryshev to join their coaching staff to assist in the winger's adaptation to Spain and its football.

Cheryshev travelled to Seville for brief and successful negotiations. "We talked for two or three days before I gave my response," the former Dynamo Moscow and Sporting Gijon forward, and Real Madrid youth coach, told ABC Sevilla. "But as soon as I left the stadium I knew that it was an opportunity I could not afford to miss out on."

The former Russian international had made a similar move from Eastern Europe to Spain during his own playing career and was well aware of the hurdles awaiting his new charge. "Ukraine and Spain are completely different," he explained. "Not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room and in everyday life. Everything is different."

The arrival of Cheryshev was one of a number of steps Sevilla took to ensure that their star signing had the best possible chance of bridging those differences. They brought in Juan Candau, a fitness coach with a solid grasp of Russian following his two years at CSKA Moscow, and also signed promising Ukrainian forward Maryan Shved from Karpaty Lviv.

While Cheryshev and Candau helped Konoplyanka -- who spoke not a word of Spanish or English upon his arrival in Seville -- through the language barrier in training, Shved became his socialising partner and confidant.

Konoplyanka quickly showed his quality with the ball at his feet with a superb strike in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Barcelona but struggled to come to terms with the defensive tasks assigned to him by coach Unai Emery. His playing time generally came as a substitute, with Emery perhaps feeling that it would be difficult to incorporate both Konoplyanka and Jose Antonio Reyes into his starting XI without sacrificing his side's defensive solidity.

But boosted by some promising performances off the bench, Konoplyanka has started ahead of Reyes in each of Sevilla's past four matches. His numbers (two goals and an assist in that span) tell the story of a player who is starting to find his feet in new surroundings.

The 26-year-old has notched four goals and one assist in 12 appearances (five starts) in league and Champions League action to date. That works out to a direct contribution to 0.61 goals per 90 minutes. At this stage, he already is good for a goal or assist every two games; a very solid output in a team that has struggled for results during the early part of the campaign.

Yet there is still a feeling that there is more to come. There were certainly signs of a burgeoning partnership with left-back Benoit Tremoulinas in the defeat away to Manchester City last month. The pair had more touches of the ball in the attacking half than any of their teammates and combined directly on more occasions than any other pair of players. It was Konoplyanka who swept in the opening goal of the match from the centre of the area.

"I am adapting, slowly, slowly," he explained, with Cheryshev as his translator, on returning to Seville after being named UEFA's man of the match. "Things will be much better when I can understand perfectly what my teammates are saying to me in Spanish, but I am already in a position to compete. There is a lot of competition in the squad, but I'm ready."

Real Madrid are the next visitors to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this Sunday, and among their midst will be a member of the Cheryshev family who hasn't enjoyed anywhere near as successful a start to his season's work. Dmitri's son, Denis Cheryshev, returned to Madrid this summer following an excellent year out on loan at Villarreal but has so far been given less than a hour of playing time by new coach Rafael Benitez.

The 24-year-old had a brief stay of his own in Seville back in the 2013-14 season but endured a difficult year, ravaged by injuries that restricted him to just five appearances. His playing time looks likely to be similarly sparse this season given that not only are the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale ahead of him in the pecking order, but also Jese Rodriguez and Lucas Vazquez.

Cheryshev would dearly love to take part on Sunday with his father there to watch on at close quarters from the opposition bench. His chances of doing so have been boosted by the injury suffered by left-back Marcelo in midweek, as he remains an option for that position given Madrid's lack of naturally left-footed replacements for its regular occupant.

The best result for the family would of course be a draw in which Cheryshev and Konoplyanka both play and score. But whatever the outcome, afterwards there are certain to be words of support and encouragement exchanged between two generations of a family whose loyalties will be divided only for 90 minutes.