Life after Monchi

On Monday evening, news came of Monchi’s sudden departure as Sevilla’s sporting director, despite having signed a long-term contract a year ago. The role he played at the club for 16 years was vital, and his departure serves as a real blow to Los Nervionenses.

To put things into perspective, in the last 10 years Sevilla have won the UEFA Cup/Europa League five times, as well as enjoying the riches of Champions League football. Those players who blossomed in this successful period were acquired under the watch of Monchi. Players such as Dani Alves, Seydou Keita, Ivan Rakitic and Carlos Bacca had their careers brought to prominence and were identified by the 47-year-old.

Crucially, Monchi revitalised the club’s cantera as several of its graduates debuted and shone for the senior team. Academy products such as Jose Antonio Reyes, Luis Alberto, Antonio Moreno, Diego Capel, Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas became role models to the locals watching their team play at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Naturally, those produced from the cantera or bought now were desired by the elite clubs of Spain and also Europe. But whenever they left Sevilla for pastures new, it was always done at a substantial profit. What made Monchi so appreciated, within Sevilla and outside, is how time and time again the money generated from these transfers was used resourcefully and without waste. Two examples highlight this. 

Firstly, the six players mentioned above who graduated from the cantera were sold overall for €105.5m. Thus, the money generated from player sales allowed Los Rojiblancos to build for the future, as well as help reduce the club’s debt significantly.

Secondly, player recruitment to help offset selling players resulted in major successes whether on or off the pitch. Take the example of Carlos Bacca. He was bought from Club Brugge for €7m to replace Alvaro Negredo in July 2013. Two years later, Bacca’s brace against Dnipro won Sevilla the 2014-15 Europa League.

Forty-nine goals in 108 games warranted an excellent return on the club’s investment on the pitch. It was magnified off the pitch when the Colombian was sold to Milan last summer for €30m – more than four times what Sevilla paid for him. 

Coaches and players came and went at Sevilla, but Monchi represented a calm rock of stability throughout those 16 years. Rarely a bad purchase was conducted under his tenure as sporting director. It’s testament to the relentless time, effort and painstaking research made by Monchi (and his team) to acquire the best players – able to fit into whatever system the Coach of the day used. It is no secret Europe’s top clubs desired him over the years and still do. His loss will hurt Sevilla more than any player ever could. 

During past summers, Sevilla’s main focus was how to replace players who had been sold. Now their worry is who will come in for Monchi. It will be truly hard to replace a person such as the former goalkeeper or replicate his successes over the last 16 years. The task facing any new sporting director would be to try and hold onto key players such as Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kevin Gameiro, or at the very least exact as much profit as possible if sold. The cantera must be maintained to churn out top products like their goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

However, the vital aspect is how to replace those personnel who leave the club, especially in the case of midfielder Ever Banega. This summer could prove to be make or break for Sevilla and then can the legacy of Monchi truly be felt.