How will we remember Walter Sabatini? His time in the capital was as brilliant as it was tragic. Marquinhos, Lamela, Strootman, Pjanic, Perotti, SES, his list of successful acquisitions is admirable; however, there are also the underachievers, Iturbe, Ibarbo, Dumbia (misspelling intended and justified), and those who were perhaps given away too soon Jedvaj, Ucan, and Sanabria. Somehow it is always those who got away that we remember most.
But now to the future...
Pallotta and Co. have announced that Monchi will take over as sporting director this June. Known as the "transfer wizard," the former goalkeeper will arrive after sixteen years as Sevilla FC's director of football. The fruits of his labor are impressive, most notably, five Europa League titles and two Copa del Rey crowns. Seven major trophies in the span of nine years, not bad. Let's not compare that to Roma's recent silverware, or lack there of. Yikes.
What Monchi is most known for is his ability to buy low and sell high. Moneyball at its finest. Here are just a few of his profit points (in euros):
Julio Baptista to Real Madrid (+24m)
Dani Alves to Barcelona (+36.5m)
Ivan Rakitic to Barcelona (+17.5m)
Carlos Bacca to AC Milan (+23m)
Oh, Baptista, who knows if Monchi sensed your fall. In any case, it is evident that the wizard has a keen eye for young or undervalued players. Los Rojiblancos bought Bacca for a mere seven million, a player who went on to score 34 goals in 72 league appearances. For a club that was in a financial crisis in 2000 when Monchi was appointed, Sevilla FC has resurfaced as a top four contender in La Liga. Moreover, Sevilla has managed to field strong teams despite losing key players year after year, which shows that even though strong footballers are lost, they are replaced with equal or even better alternatives. Just like Pjanic right...oh wait. Just this year Sevilla lost their top striker in Kevin Gameiro, and their strongest midfielder, Grzegorz Krychowiak, but their replacements, Wissam Ben Yedder and Steven N'Zonzi have seamlessly taken their places, showing early season form.
So, what does Monchi mean for Roma? Unlike Sevilla at the time of Monchi's appointment, Roma is not in dire need of a boost in finances. Mr. Pallotta may disagree, but Roma are nowhere near as in debt as Sevilla was in back in 2000. Arguably, some may see this move as a way for Roma to boost its revenues with transfers, but one thing Monchi has shown throughout his career is a knack for finding bargain deals for adequate replacements.
The most interesting aspect of his appointment will be how he gels with Spalletti, a manager who seems to prefer the wiser, more experienced player over the young prospect. During Monchi's tenure at Sevilla, he worked with coaches willing to work with youth players, and also teams with less depth. There is much to anticipate with Monchi's hiring, but one thing is certain: Roma's summer transfer strategy just became a lot more intriguing.