So if you haven’t seen it yet, Spanish outlet Marca have put out an exclusive stating that Monchi will join Arsenal on June 30th to reunite with Unai Emery, his old pal back during his Sevilla days.
Let’s take a took at Monchi’s career and his emergence into one of the most highly sought after sporting directors around the globe.
PLAYING CAREER: First things first, his actual name isn’t even Monchi. He is Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, a former goalkeeper who played for Sevilla. His career as a footballer was far from distinguished – he only made 85 top flight appearances for the club, which spanned over 9 years. This was largely due to the fact that he was a backup goalkeeper.
While he did not play a huge role on the pitch, he had a reputation of nurturing and managing talent within the squad. During Diego Maradona’s short stay at Sevilla for example, a close friendship was struck between him and Monchi. When Maradona left the club, he gifted Monchi a Carter watch as a thank-you present. Such was the impact Monchi had behind the scenes, even as an average player.
TRANSITION TO SPORTING DIRECTOR : He retired at the age of 30, which is still quite young for a goalkeeper. When Sevilla were relegated to the second division in Spain, a decision had to be made by the board. They needed to get back to La Liga and become a stable club. Monchi was appointed as ‘Director of football’ to lay down the groundwork for this turnaround. It was quite an easy decision for the board to make. I say this because Monchi knew the club very well and had made a huge impact behind the scenes as a player.
MONCHI MASTERCLASS: With the modest of funds, Monchi helped transform Sevilla from a relegation threatened club, to a major force in Europe. They won 5 Europa leagues during his tenure. But most importantly – he gave the club much needed stability in La Liga. He established his own scouting network of over 700 scouts around the world. The focus was on regions where they could gain a competitive advantage. Speaking to the Guardian in 2016, he said: “We go looking for unknown players in places where we know the richer teams won’t go because they don’t think they will find anyone talented enough for them.”
This, along with his financial prudence and knowledge of the game, has made him one of the best, if not the best football directors of all time. Everything gets done keeping the team’s best interests in view. He will help build teams, not destabilise it like how Gazidis did to us.
Just like Raul Sanllehi, he is a ruthless operator. He won’t budge like how Ivan for example, did to Mesut Ozil’s agent last year. He always has a plan A, B, C, D, etc. for everything. Sevilla was a special case. The only way the club could sustain financially was players being sold at massive profits, for which top quality players needed to be brought in at reasonable prices. Players like Adriano, Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Seydou Keita, are just a small chunk of what he brought in. At Roma, he brought in Cengiz Under, who is likely to be sold at a massive profit. He believes in the power of the academy – to create a structure where academy players can thrive and make a name for themselves. Players like Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas, for example are testament to Monchi’s push for integration of youth players.
It is because of thinking like this, that Monchi helped Sevilla to well over €300m in profits due to player sales. I know there’s a fear we could become a selling club. But reality is, its very important to protect the value of our players. Think of our players as assets.
If you look at it in hindsight, we could have sold Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, a couple of years back and we could have rebuilt much quicker. Look at the mess we’re in now. We have Huss Fahmy, who is an expert on contractual negotiation. Having this kind of person at the helm, we will get most contracts sorted in time. However, if the club feels that a player is asking for way too much, it won’t be tolerated. I know that we need to keep our best players. Most of the time, I believe we will, but if agents feel we can be taken for a ride, we shouldn’t encourage it and with someone like Monchi, we definitely won’t.
MONCHI AT ARSENAL: Monchi will fit in very well at the club. He will play a more hands on role than Raul. While there’s many variations in what a technical director does, I foresee that he will be tasked with helping find the right players, as well as building up the profitability of the club through enhancing margins over player sales. For far too long, we have overpaid for average players and sold our best players for peanuts. He will work closely with the head coach, Unai, on a day to day basis, just like they did at Sevilla. Monchi will also attend many games to see how things are going from a footballing standpoint. He is straight forward and brutally honest when he needs to be. That would be so refreshing. We’re just used to getting sold dreams, when in reality, nothing really happens.
I fully expect this appointment to be made. The reports are too concrete for it not to happen. Marca, Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail. And if you listened to David Ornstein speaking on the Arsecast podcast about Monchi, he said: ‘one source even told me it is a done deal.’ He has interest from top clubs in Europe and to reject clubs like Manchester United and PSG, to come to us tells me that he believes in our project. He always wanted to work in England, so this is a great opportunity for him too.
HOPES: I would like to conclude by saying, expect the unexpected this summer. I’m hopeful that this summer will be a record for us in terms of how much we’re going to spend. Of course, we are going to be relying on player sales too. This new structure of Vinai purely involved in finance side, Monchi involved on the footballing side, complimented by Raul, Fahmy in charge of contracts and Darren Burgess overseeing everything from top to bottom to ensure things are flowing smoothly really excites me. There is a clear split in terms of what is to be done, filled by some of the best in the business. Really excited to see what comes of our project and I hope after reading this, you are too!