In 1992, Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo was just another member of the squad. A 23-year-old back-up goalkeeper whom few expected great things of in a team which had only finished as high as fifth in LaLiga once since 1970. Fast-forward 25 years and he is regarded as a visionary in modern football and the most-revered sporting director in Europe.
Known more commonly as ‘Monchi’, he is the architect of Sevilla’s remarkable successes over the past 15 years, developing the club immensely from the LaLiga also-rans for whom he played back-up between the posts, to a side which has won the UEFA Cup/Europa League five times in just over a decade.
When appointed in 2000, Monchi was tasked with improving the club’s homegrown output and developing a scouting network, both domestically and internationally. To say that the success which followed was expected would be a big lie; at the time they were a mess financially and had just been relegated from La Liga.
But Monchi never looked back. First came the homegrown talent, with Jose Antonio Reyes, Jesus Navas, Antonio Puerta and Sergio Ramos among those to make the breakthrough – all going on to represent Spain at least once – in the first couple of years of his tenure.
Second came the young foreign talent such as Dani Alves, Julio Baptista and Adriano, as Monchi’s immense scouting network began to bear fruit and really make a mark on the first-team.
And third came the silverware, with back-to-back UEFA Cups and a Copa del Rey added to Super Cup successes domestically and in Europe. That’s five trophies won in 2006 and 2007, one more than they’d managed in their entire history beforehand.
For Sevilla the success was unprecedented and astounding.
For Monchi the success was the coming together of all of his work and proving his undeniable brilliance. And although he would be the first to admit you need luck, his meticulousness – and what could potentially be perceived as the laziness of bigger clubs – was crucial, as the following details:
— Fútbol de Andalucía (@FutbolAlAndalus) January 16, 2017
Monchi’s habit of buying players cheaply and then selling them on for a huge profit before also reinvesting wisely is what has really earned him the plaudits. Dani Alves being the prime example, having arrived for less than £500,000 and departed for £32m.
The list is almost endless; Baptista, Ivan Rakitic, Carlos Bacca, Alvaro Negredo, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Kevin Gameiro were all sold for a handsome profit, and then there’s the likes of Ramos, Navas and Alberto Moreno who came through the club.
But change is afoot.
In search of a new challenge, his resignation was rejected last summer and he is still being linked with moves elsewhere, with Roma reportedly the club most keen on bringing him in.
Sevilla sporting director Monchi on leaving: “My clause is €5m, but I would never pay it – the decision to go would not be unilateral.” pic.twitter.com/t2mSzVqzhE
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 17, 2017
And with a €5m buyout clause in his contract, it’s a wonder that more clubs aren’t circling, particularly when that clause will actually halve at the end of the season.
In the modern climate, most sporting directors would struggle to even find a good player for that figure. But Monchi’s track record speaks for itself and his meticulousness coupled with a football obsession and demonstrable brilliance in the transfer market would make his signing the smartest €5m any club chief has ever spent.
But are any Premier League clubs ready to get their chequebooks out for him? Because every single one would be all the better in Monchi’s safe hands (goalkeeper pun intended).
Monchi is getting good at avoiding questions! He tells reporters:
“I’m so excited about the present that I don’t think about the future!” pic.twitter.com/14DWZ8l0vz
— Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) January 17, 2017