Not many sporting directors could create front page headlines by announcing their intention to leave their club in the way that Sevilla’s Monchi has done this week.
In terms of fame and fortune, anonymous pen-pushers like Monchi generally trail a very long way behind players and managers in the superstar pecking order, and many fans would be hard pushed to even conjure up the name of the person who carries out those responsibilities for their team.
But Monchi, without doubt, is not just any old sporting director. Although his work has been largely conducted unseen and behind the scenes, the last few years have allowed the former Sevilla goalkeeper to develop a well-earned reputation as the greatest exponent of his particular craft, and the fuss surrounding his departure is no surprise.
The Andalusian club’s achievements during his time at the club have been considerable, and his influence upon that success has been direct.
Perhaps the best statistic to demonstrate his importance is the fact that prior to his arrival as sporting director, Sevilla had won four major trophies in the 110 years of their existence; in the 17 seasons he was in place, they won nine.
More than doubling a century’s worth of silverware in less than two decades is seriously impressive, and it’s even more significant those triumphs came under a variety of different managers with a series of completely changed squads.
Unlike, for example, the success being enjoyed at Atletico Madrid where one manager, Diego Simeone, has called upon a core of key players throughout his time in charge, Sevilla were forced to pretty much rip it up and start again nearly every summer.
Bendita la hora en que el sevillismo inundó mi vida.— Monchi (@leonsfdo) February 25, 2017
Este no era un derbi cualquiera....
Como te quiero Dios mío
Eres mi vida...... pic.twitter.com/cUr9E5FCLS
The reason they were able to do so was Monchi, thanks to his incredible ability to spot highly talented but seriously undervalued players before anyone else, turn them into stars, sell them for a huge profit and then repeat the process – generally under the leadership of a yet another new manager, who had also been handpicked by him.
He was particularly unique in willingly thrusting Sevilla headfirst into the status of a selling club. Whereas most are desperate to avoid that tag, Monchi thrived on it and made no excuses for readily accepting the inevitability of his star players leaving for richer pastures.
It was a central part of his operation, in fact: funding the next batch of signings by selling one or two of the previous squad for huge sums.
And although he is understandably now a hot property, eyed enviously by club chairmen all over Europe, you do wonder how readily other clubs will accept the formula.
Would Roma, for example, be happy to become a selling club if he moves to the Eternal City? Or will Monchi be capable of implementing a more ambitious model?
Only the future will tell, but for now we can simply salute what Monchi has achieved by turning Sevilla into a major European power… and wonder whether they’ll fly so high once he’s gone.
FIVE OF MONCHI’S FINEST SIGNINGS
Originally signed on loan from Bahia as a teenager in 2002. Ended up as the second-most decorated player in European competitions ever.
Talented but inconsistent in the Premier League, Kanoute became a prolific scorer for seven seasons with Sevilla, with 136 goals in 290 appearances.
The gifted Colombian striker was snapped up from Club Brugge for €7 million in 2013, and sold to AC Milan two years later for €30 million.
The Croatian midfielder was signed for €2.5 million from Schalke in 2011. Sold to Barcelona for nearly 10 times that amount three years later.
Rakitic’s place in the engine room is now filled by former Stoke man N’Zonzi, who will probably become the next big-money departure this summer.
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