Monchi choose Sevilla, eventually.
The Spaniard looked set to become the next technical director at the Arsenal before a stunning U-turn saw him going back home and snub the offer from north London.
A few weeks ago, when the announcement seemed imminent, I had the opportunity to chat with Valerio, who runs the popular Twitter account “La Roma Nel Cervello” (@RomaNelCervello).
I asked him a few questions about Monchi and his stay in Rome, the positives and the negatives of his two-years spell in Italy.
The outcome is not really flattering, if I am being honest. Monchi was welcomed with great enthusiasm and hope but soon stumbled across a few hurdles – most notably a handful of very bad signings but also the extreme loyalty shown towards AS Roma’s former head-coach Eusebio Di Francesco, even when it looked evident that he completely lost the dressing room and the trust of the board; despite the plaudits he got for bringing in very talented young players, some of the more established players he signed didn’t improve the quality of the squad and had a huge impact on the club’s wage bill.
Below you will find the full transcript of my chat with Valerio, I encourage you to go through it and make your own mind about whether Monchi choosing Sevilla over us was a bad or a good thing.
Clock End Italia: How did Roma fans welcomed the arrival of Monchi from Sevilla?
Roma Nel Cervello: Monchi was identified as the man who could take us forward, there was great enthusiasm and hope around his arrival. Personally speaking, I was happy he decided to join Roma after what he achieved at Sevilla. The development already started under Sabatini (AS Roma former sporting director) and saw the club challenging Juventus for domestic titles, Monchi’s arrival was perceived as the next step to go one level above and start winning trophies again.
Clock End Italia: What decision or episode signaled the end of the honeymoon between Monchi and the supporters?
Roma Nel Cervello: I would say the strenuous defense of Di Francesco, even when the head coach looked lost and his sacking the only realistic outcome. If we add this to the inactivity during the January transfers window and the disappointing summer recruitment, the situation looks clear.
Clock End Italia: Who were Monchi’s best and worst signings over the last two years?
Roma Nel Cervello: The best one was Zaniolo, no doubts. It was a brave and bold move to sell Nainggolan, a fans’ favorite, for 24m plus a good squad player like Santon (the former Newcastle full-back) and a top prospect like Zaniolo – who was valued just over 4m in this deal. Try to buy him now and see how much money he would cost you…
The worst one has to be Pastore: the club simply cannot afford to spend 25m on a 29yo injury-prone player and tie him down to a 5-years deal. Everyone could see that this gamble was going to backfire.
Clock End Italia: How would you describe Monchi to Arsenal fans?
Roma Nel Cervello: He’s a great talent scout and has a vast knowledge. He brought in talented youngsters such as Ünder, Zaniolo and Kluivert. The Dutchman is struggling at the moment but he is a top talent; Cengiz Ünder is experiencing some fitness issues this year but last season he shone, after a short period of adaptation.
Funnily enough, Monchi did struggle when called upon signing fully-formed, ready-made players like Marcano, Moreno, Nzonzi or Pastore.
Clock End Italia: How was the relationship between Monchi and Di Francesco?
Roma Nel Cervello: They were really close, so close that Monchi resigned immediately after Di Francesco was sacked.
You can follow Valerio on Twitter at @RomaNelCervello
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.