When you are looking from a financially powerful club’s perspective, say your Man City’s, Man Utd’s, Chelsea’s, Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s, PSG’s and such, the transfer market is an opportunity to strengthen the squad with star names and exciting youngsters as you see fit. They have competition from each other when looking at certain players but money is generally never an issue.
However, for the majority of the clubs in world football, the transfer market represents an inherent fear of losing the players who brought them joy and success in the season that just went by. Regardless of how you and I may or may not personally feel about the way money dominates the world of football, there are some clubs who have mastered the art of selling star assets yet rebuilding without losing too much of their momentum. Alongside the often praised Portuguese giants Benfica and Porto, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, the Netherlands’ Ajax and Switzerland’s FC Basel, there is another club that is rather renowned for achieving the feat perennially; Sevilla.
Sevilla’s rise to the top was largely facilitated by their excellent exploits in the transfer market, which were largely the work of one man. He is known as Monchi and his method for evaluating talent has Europe’s attention. Before his move to Italian giants AS Roma, he was highly sought after by both Barcelona and Real Madrid and he turned down an offer to join Sevilla manager Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain.
Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, who still goes by the nickname from his goalkeeping days, has become one of the most sought-after football directors in European soccer after revolutionizing Spanish club Sevilla with a scouting system that helped rescue the team from the brink of financial collapse and turned it into a perennial contender in the continent’s second-tiered competitions.
Monchi is football’s version of Billy Beane, the baseball general manager whose innovative methods to evaluate players helped revitalize the Oakland A’s and whose story later became a book and the movie, “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt. In what is to become the start of an entire series of articles, I would like to investigate the work being done by Monchi at Sevilla and apply it to Football Manager.
Unlike his fellow visionary in baseball, there is no Hollywood blockbuster in the works about the bald-headed Monchi, but much like Beane, he has his own way of doing things and has achieved significant success despite a limited budget compared to the powerhouses of European football, including Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona. The results are there to back up such claims. In the last decade, the club based in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia has won its fair share of silverware: two Copa del Reys, one Spanish Supercup, one European Supercup, two UEFA Cups and the last two Europa Leagues.
What made Sevilla a force to be reckoned with in both La Liga and Europe was the so-called “Monchi Method,” the scouting system that helped Sevilla discover and profit from players such as Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Julio Baptista, Sergio Ramos, Seydou Keita, Jesus Navas and Carlos Bacca. Reading Sevilla’s and Monchi’s transfer exploits over the past decade or so amounts to reading a who-is-who of the top of European and world football.
Over the course of his stay at Sevilla, Monchi is believed to have helped Los Rojiblancos earn more than 200 million euros in transfers in the 15 years he has been with the club. Dani Alves, a stalwart of Brazil’s national team as well as some of Europe’s biggest clubs, is seen as one of his most successful signings. Dani Alves was bought for 1 million euros from Bahia, a small Brazilian club, and subsequently sold to Barcelona for 30 million euros.
Essentially, what Monchi was doing for Sevilla was developing a method that helped them find new talent, not just to benefit the team on the pitch but also to generate income due to resale value. It is a concept that he seems to have perfected. His time at Sevilla has shown time and time again that he is quite adept at finding cheap players with potential and re-selling them to bigger clubs at a much higher price. It’s hardly a novel idea but Monchi seems to be rather efficient at implementing it. So how does he do it?
The basic concept
When you research transfer market strategies, you can find a lot of information on various topics. How to set up a scouting system, how to identify interesting targets, even some information on how to negotiate a good deal. What I find lacking, however, is a piece that combines all the elements of the equation and shows you what to look for when you want to truly master the intricacies of the transfer market and become a crack at it like Monchi.
If you break the whole system down to its core elements, you come up with a number of prerequisites that need to be met, absolutely vital conditions one cannot do without. In a nutshell, the process depends on the following factors.
This post is the start of a short series, where I look at all the factors listed above, where I look at what you need to master the transfer market. I will use my own Fortuna Sittard team as an example throughout the series.