27 February at 21:00
There is little doubt about how a sporting director Monchi is. The way he handles a club’s operations haven’t only helped them financially, but it has miraculously contributed to their success on the pitch as well.
Links with Manchester United and Arsenal aren’t a surprise at all. Monchi is a man who knows how the financial and the on-pitch aspects of a club are to be balanced. He knows how a club should operate to make sure that they are not incurring financial losses, but are still doing very well on the pitch by making shrewd signings that go on to yield profits for the club.
But using word ‘clubs’ seems a bit too much for the Spaniard, who has not been exceptional at Roma ever since he arrived in the summer of 2017. Its undoubted that the job he did in Sevilla was a one that made everyone sit up and take notice. But he has come close to being undone at the giallorossi.
While it is also down to the sort of players that Eusebio di Francesco has wanted to have in the side, a lot of the players that have left Roma over the last two seasons haven’t been replaced as well as they should have. As a result of that, the giallorossi are fifth in the table and it appears as though Di Francesco’s time at the Stadio Olimpico is well and truly up by the end of the season.
It’s vital to note that Roma have made a profit of about 80 million euros in the period since Monchi took over. Add that to how well they did to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last season, the amount could well go upto 100 million euros. And that means a lot to a club that was struggling to comply with Financial Fair Play Regulations, much like Inter Milan.
Nicolo Zaniolo has turned out to be a masterclass of a signing and Monchi deserves credit for thrashing out a deal for him and Davide Santon in the transfer that saw Radja Nainggolan leave for Inter. The same goes for how Cengiz Under was roped in from Basaksehir for a fee of 13.4 million euros and he has proved out to be a massive bargain buy. There is little doubt that Roma will make a lot of money from the sales of both Zaniolo and Under, who are already being eyed by the powerhouse clubs.
Perhaps, even Rick Karsdorp will soon reach his peak after having recently recovered from exhausting injuries of his own. The manner in which Lorenzo Pellegrini was resigned from Sassuolo will likely prove to be a coup very soon too, if it isn’t already.
But Monchi’s time at Roma is splattered with more misses than hits. The biggest of all probably has been how Robin Olsen has brought in to replace the departing Alisson. The Swede did do well for his country in the FIFA World Cup, but he has hardly seemed good enough for a club that Roma are. There have been errors that have left many baffled.
Maxime Gonalons was another massive disappointment. Having arrived from Lyon in the summer of 2017, he has never got going in Rome. Even during his ongoing loan stint at Sevilla, the midfielder has appeared only 3 times in the La Liga, cutting a disappointing figure for many who thought that he would go on to replace the aging Daniele de Rossi.
The same goes for Javier Pastore and Steven N’Zonzi, who have failed to kick on. Ivan Marcano was signed on a free transfer from Porto and he’s probably been one of their worst players this season. Hector Moreno, before Marcano was signed, never really worked out before he left for Real Sociedad.
Patrick Schick has struggled to make too much of an impact, despite having being a highly sought-after playing before he left Sampdoria and before he failed a Juventus medical. And it isn’t really a surprise that he might well be on his way out very soon.
But the signings of Federico Fazio and Aleksandar Kolarov from English giants Tottenham and Manchester City have proved to be very reliable indeed. The Argentine, who spent an initial season-long loan deal before joining permanently under Monchi, has come up with important performances when they were very much in need.
There is a pattern though, that emerges. Monchi is much better at spotting upcoming stars than the already established ones. That is the key to why the younger players go onto reap more financial profits than the already established players do. And that has contributed massively to the brand Monchi has become today.
The successes that Monchi has achieved with the players that he has signed has meant more for his brand because those successes are very tangible. They have either gone onto become successful players or they have reaped success for the clubs. While it remains to be seen if that happens for Roma, it is certain that a lot of players that have been signed under the Spaniard’s tutelage will become top players in the future.
As the stick of blame continues to waiver from Di Francesco to Monchi via the players, the former goalkeeper is expected to leave in the summer. So is Di Francesco.
Arsenal and Manchester United have been keeping tabs on him, with Arsenal closer out of the two to him.
While Monchi is yet to work at a club that wants to be the very best and is a powerhouse, the fact is that only the young players he signs or scouts work a lot of times. The man from Andalusia has lower percentage of success when it comes to signing the already established stars that are aged over 25 or 26.
On top of that, the pressure of succeeding for a young player when he joins a club like Manchester United is huge, as compared to when he joins Roma or Sevilla. Everything in the papers becomes all about him and how he is someone the club spent money on to succeed.
Plus, would a powerhouse club want to be a selling club? It probably won’t want to lose its best players on a consistent basis the way Monchi has done at Roma and Sevilla. It is one factor that potential suitors should always consider.
For Arsenal, it depends on what they are looking for. Unai Emery knows Monchi very well and they won the Europa League thrice together back in Spain. He knows what sort of players Emery would want to make Arsenal great. That was never really the case at Roma, where the manager and Monchi were never exactly at the same wavelength.
By Kaustubh Pandey