As Chelsea made their way through £222million of new signings in the summer, Sevilla were doing what they usually do – leaning on sporting director Monchi‘s catalogue of bargains and discoveries and hoping not too many of their players were sold.
The Spanish club brought in winger Oscar Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Oussama Idrissi from AZ Alkmaar, Marcos Acuna from Sporting, and Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona, as well as making Suso’s loan from Milan permanent. They did it all for £59million (€65.5m). Chelsea spent more on Kai Havertz alone, who cost them £71m.
Monchi was ready for the inevitable belt tightening brought about by the pandemic. It helped that last summer he had, even by his high standards and incredibly successful market.
Sevilla sporting director Monchi is the secret weapon behind the club’s success
Under his stewardship, Sevilla have won nine trophies in 10 years on a shoestring budget
Jules Kounde arrived from Bordeaux for a club-record £23m (€25m). Within one season Manchester City were offering £50m (€55m) for him. His centre-back partner Diego Carlos, signed from Nantes for just £13m (€15m), has also been a huge success.
And at the other end of the pitch Lucas Ocampos was signed from Marseille for just £13m (€15m). He is now a first-team player for Argentina having top scored for the club last season.
Even the duds came good. Luuk de Jong struggled for goals early on but got the crucial ones as Sevilla won the Europa League.
Chelsea made their way through £222million of new signings in the summer window
All this has come in Monchi’s second spell at the club after a less successful spell at Roma. He was welcomed back with open arms at Sevilla – why wouldn’t he be after overseeing a period in which he turned a £182m (€200m) profit in a decade at the club, winning nine trophies along the way? He even made a masterclass documentary series to show how it’s done.
There were 13 episodes, each lasting 13 minutes because before Monchi became the club’s, and one of football’s most famous, sporting directors, he wore the No 13 shirt as reserve goalkeeper in a Sevilla side that struggled towards the end of the last century.
When he finally hung his gloves up in 2000, he took the reigns of a struggling Sevilla and with his signings turned them into one of the most successful cup sides in the whole of Europe.
‘I think the key to my success is hard work and a closeness to those I work with,’ he said in the first episode. ‘I’m a dressing room sporting director, close to the players and at the service of the coach.
Monchi shakes hands with Jules Kounde, who arrived from Bordeaux for a club-record £23m
Monchi’s closeness with players has helped him convince Ivan Rakitic to re-sign for the club
‘I may be the one who signs the players but it’s the coach who gives the profile of what type of player he wants.’
That closeness to players has helped him convince many to sign and, in the case of Rakitic, to re-sign for the club.
As a player Monchi’s biggest claim to fame was that he had become close friends with Diego Maradona when the Argentine signed for Sevilla.
When Sportsmail visited him for an interview in 2016 he proudly displayed a picture of himself with Maradona in his club office.
‘I was the last monkey – the least important member of the squad. I was only playing here because it was a first-leg cup game as you can see in the background there is hardly anyone in the stadium,’ he said. ‘Diego was at 30 per cent of his capacity by then but he was still incredible.’
Sevilla’s most recent success came in August when they won the Europa League
Monchi the transfer window king has long since surpassed Monchi the reserve team keeper.
‘Ask any fan what would you prefer between finishing third or winning a trophy and it’s a no contest,’ he told Sportsmail in that interview. ‘Winning things has a knock-on effect economically anyway because when you win things you are worth more money.
‘The average Sevilla fan values the fact that we have managed the club well financially but no one takes a “what great economic results” banner to the stadium. It’s about the glory.’
It was about the glory again last season in the Europa League when despite having to face Manchester United in the semi-finals and Inter in the final, Sevilla still came away holding a trophy that they have now won more times than any side in Europe.
After hanging up his gloves up in 2000, Monchi turned Sevilla into one of Europe’s elite clubs
This year they go for the big one.
‘It’s more complicated,’ Fernando said this week. ‘There are no weak sides, every team has special players.’
Sevilla have special players too but it’s the man who finds them and signs them who is their biggest weapon.