Tuesday March 10 2020
Monchi's past & present

Roma face Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 this week but, as Livio Caferoglu recounts, it also marks a year since Monchi left to rejoin the Giallorossi’s upcoming opponents...

‘What could have been’ is a phrase that seems to resonate with Roma more than most clubs. On March 6 last year, the plug was pulled on the Monchi project at the Olimpico as the Lupi crashed out of the Champions League last 16, going out to an extra-time penalty against Porto. Just two days later, the sporting director parted company with Roma and ultimately sought home comforts, returning to Sevilla the following month.

The Spaniard was widely considered a failure for his transfer business between the summer of 2017 and January 2019, notably splashing out big-money flops Steven N’Zonzi and Patrik Schick with the cash generated from selling Alisson and Mohamed Salah to Liverpool, while passing up Ajax’s man-of-the-moment Hakim Ziyech for an injury-prone busted flush in Javier Pastore, at a cost of almost €25m. 

On the other hand, there were some resounding successes. Aleksandar Kolarov - a €5m buy from Manchester City - remains Roma’s first-choice left-back, whereas Nicolo Zaniolo was brought in as part of the deal that took Radja Nainggolan to Inter in 2018. The 20-year-old’s stock has risen so quickly that, despite his season-ending injury, he is arguably the most prized Italian player in circulation.

It is also thanks to the director that the Giallorossi possess two of Europe’s most explosive wide men in Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Under. Yet it is in equal part down to Monchi that their squad is sorely lacking character, having convinced James Pallotta’s board to cash in on Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman after Francesco Totti retired.

Monchi oversaw several generational shifts during his initial 16-year tenure as Sevilla’s transfer chief, but never the loss of three elder statesmen – one of whom as iconic and influential as Totti - in such quick succession. How much his hands were tied remains up for debate, but the lasting impact of his legacy continues to overshadow Roma’s rebuild.

As fate would have it, his past and current employers will do battle over the next week for a place in the Europa League quarter-finals. Like at Roma, Monchi has been forced to contend with sales of key personnel in Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder on his return, but with one major difference – their release clauses were activated. Thus, Sevilla were powerless to keep them.

Monchi’s recruitment policy has changed somewhat, from banking on potential to also bringing in players with points to prove, such as ex-Milan men Lucas Ocampos and Suso. It is paying off so far as Julen Lopetegui’s side sit third in La Liga, above Atletico Madrid, and are in with a shout of adding a record sixth UEFA Cup/Europa League to their trophy cabinet.

The similarities between Sevilla and Roma go beyond the Monchi connection, with both teams purveyors of the possession-heavy, high-press style that is currently in vogue, resulting in plenty of goals being scored but almost as many going in at the other end. For the 51-year-old, the tie will offer some closure as to whether the capital club were right to “kick him out” last year or whether he had unfinished business in the Eternal City.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
...& don't get me started on Pastore..!

25 mil € for a guy that:
Happily sat on PSG bench, with no ambition/ hunger whatsoever!!!
That was & (not surprisingly) IS constantly injured!!!
That only had 1 YEAR LEFT on his contract!!!

& here, it also gets worse...
Because of Pastore, Monchi passed on ZIYECH!!!
--Everything was already done; Monchi pulling the plug angered Ajax so much they don't want to deal with Roma anymore!
on the 11th March, 2020 at 11:35pm
Monchi's "rip-off Inter" was accidental & lucky

--Exchanging a 30-year-old Nainggolan for:
24 mil €
+ horrible Santon that Inter unsuccessfully tried to offload for years!!!
+ some 18-year-old Primevera kid (then generously valued at 4 mil €)...

Radja was valued at 45 mil €!

It gets worse...
Radja is 100% reason why Inter got to CL & Roma didn't.
Why another year Roma won't compete there..!
So that's additional 120 mil €!!!
on the 11th March, 2020 at 11:15pm
Signing Pastore for 25 mill and paying him that monster salary at his age is the work of a true moron. at least he was able to ripoff Inter in his last mercato but how hard is that to do ?
on the 11th March, 2020 at 2:49pm
He was an unmitigated disaster at Roma. He sold all the wrong players and did so far too cheaply. He bought all the wrong players to replace them - the only unqualified successes out of his signings are Kolarov (a no brainer for anyone who knows anything about football) & Zaniolo. Even Under & Kluivert have a long way to go. His incompetence will take several years to correct. If Sevilla beat us it will be due to Monchi, but more about what he did to Roma than what he's done for Sevilla
on the 11th March, 2020 at 2:02pm
I have no time for him. He was totally incompetant at Roma and then ran away with his tail bewteen his legs. The main reason to win the tie is to beat Monchi.
on the 10th March, 2020 at 10:16pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.