Nine of the 13 senior club trophies won throughout Sevilla’s history have come post the year 2000, a spell which coincides with the time that the club’s former back-up goalkeeper Ramon ‘Monchi’ Rodriguez Verdejo has been working the transfer market better than anybody else.
Such an outcome was not widely expected when Cadiz-born Monchi was appointed as Sevilla’s sporting director shortly after he had retired from a “not so remarkable” career spent mostly as a back-up goalkeeper at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan through the 1990s.
Despite the club’s difficult economic situation, and not having much experience or knowledge of what the role entailed, Monchi was tasked with overhauling a squad which had recently suffered relegation to LaLiga SmartBank.
The team fortunately bounced straight back up and have since gone from strength to strength, with the club’s off pitch financial position consolidated over the years too. In just twenty years, the club has gone from almost being forced to sell the stadium to pay off debts to one of the most stable and sustainable clubs in European football.
Key to this was the implementation of an innovative and extensive scouting system capable of identifying and secure emerging talents in South America, with Dani Alves, Julio Baptista and Adriano among the first cut-price arrivals in the early 2000s.
Monchi also excelled at spotting talented players struggling to reach their potential at other European clubs; look no further than Frederic Kanoute taken from Tottenham in 2005 or Seydou Keita from Lens two years later, these two African stars later became icons at the club. This business acumen was accompanied by on the pitch success as the team won back to back UEFA cups in 2006 and 2007, and the 2007 Copa del Rey.
Bigger, richer clubs inevitably came to take away Sevilla’s outstanding performers. Real Madrid took Baptista; Barcelona signed Dani Alves, Keita and Adriano. The profits were then recycled back into signing the next crop of emerging talents, such as Central African Republic national Geoffrey Kondogbia from Lens in 2009 and Ivan Rakitic from Schalke in 2010. Bargains were also picked up from other LaLiga clubs, such as Alvaro Negredo from Real Madrid’s youth system in 2009 and Ever Banega from Valencia in 2014.
Of course, not every transfer over the years was a complete success, but Monchi got the vast majority of the big decisions right. Competitive teams were regularly built and subsequently rebuilt as Sevilla generally made a profit each summer without weakening the squad’s overall strength. The crowning jewel was the unprecedented three successive Europa League victories for Sevilla from 2014 to 2016, with stars Kevin Gameiro, Carlos Bacca and Pablo Sarabia all having been bargain buys.
This brought prominence for Monchi as the eminent sporting director in LaLiga, and for Sevilla across European football. He had two years away at Serie A club Roma from 2017 to 2019, before returning to build a new team in the Andalusian capital. Last summer was busier than ever, with 43 players either coming or going at Sevilla, and quality arrivals including undervalued talents Lucas Ocampo, Diego Carlos and Joan Jordan. Coach Julen Lopetegui’s rojiblanco side currently sit third in LaLiga Santander, ahead of bigger spenders such as Atletico de Madrid and well-placed to battle for Champions League qualification with 11 games left.
It would be no surprise were Europe’s richest clubs already preparing offers to tempt away Sevilla’s latest generation of stars. But the club’s fans will not be worried; they know Monchi and his team of scouts are already working on identifying and signing the next crop of emerging talents to bring even more success and stability on and off the pitch at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.