Who is Monchi? Meet the former Roma sporting director wanted by Arsenal

Arsenal are reportedly set to offer Monchi the chance to become their new technical director after he left Italian club Roma.

The Gunners are keen to replace head of recruitment Sven Mislintat as quickly as possible, with the German leaving the club after just 14 months at the Emirates.

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Monchi is being lined up for a role at the Emirates

Although Mislintat’s imminent departure has upset the fans, the rumoured pursuit of Monchi is evidence of the club’s ambition.

Revered as one of the brightest minds in the game, the ex-Roma sporting director has been courted by some of the best clubs in the world over the past decade.

Having worked with Unai Emery at Sevilla, the Spaniard could fit in perfectly in north London.

But just who is the 50-year-old and what is his back story? Scroll down to get all the info on the reported Arsenal target ahead of his potential move to the Emirates.

Who is Monchi?

Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo (commonly known as Monchi) graduated from Sevilla’s youth system having been born in San Fernando, Cadiz – just a two-hour drive away.

In 1991, the goalkeeper made his La Liga debut in a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad. However, he spent much of his senior career playing back-up to Juan Carlos Unzue.

At the age of 30, Monchi retired after playing just 20 games in Sevilla’s promotion-winning season in 1999. In total he played 85 games over nine years, 20 of them coming in his final season.

His close friendship with Diego Maradona

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Maradona struck up an unlikely friendship with Monchi during his time in Sevilla

During his stint in Sevilla, Argentina legend Maradona would so frequently get mobbed when walking in the city he would often take early morning walks to clear his head. Since Monchi was a light sleeper, he would join him.

The World Cup winner often teased his teammate about his fake ‘Rolex’ watch he wore and, before leaving the club, presented the youngster with a brand new Cartier as a token of respect and admiration.

“He was a 10 out of 10 as a person,” Monchi later told The Guardian. “… and a 20 out of 10 as a player.”

How did he become a director?

In 2000, Sevilla appointed Monchi as a team delegate to manage matchday formalities. However, relegation to the Segunda forced the Rojiblancos to force the former shot-stopper into a sporting director role.

His remit was simple; Do not let the team drop back into the second division after promotion and develop the club’s youth system.

What makes him so good?

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Monchi dedicates his time to finding the best players for his club

Monchi created a network of more than 700 scouts at Sevilla, 20 of which would attend games while Monchi would watch as many as 10 games a weekend himself.

He then identifies targets and makes sure to watch players play both live and on video to ensure they have both quality and consistency.

Monchi will watch players 6-12 times, including in person, before deciding on whether or not to pursue a deal.

How successful has he been?

In short, extremely. During his tenure in Sevilla, Monchi helped bring through Diego Capel, Alberto Moreno, Jesús Navas, Antonio Puerta, Sergio Ramos and José Antonio Reyes from the youth ranks.

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Jesus Navas and Sergio Ramos are just two of the starlets Monchi brought through at Sevilla

The 50-year-old also honed his eye for a bargain, recruiting and then selling stars to amass a profit of around €200million in the transfer market.

Adriano, Dani Alves, Júlio Baptista, Federico Fazio, Seydou Keita and Ivan Rakitić were all signed under Monchi and replaced in an efficient and ruthless manner.

Life after Sevilla

After helping the club win 11 trophies (including back-to-back Europa League victories in 2014, 2015 and 2016) the Spaniard decided he wanted to leave Sevilla for a new challenge.

The board of directors did not accept his request unless he paid his full €5million buy-out clause. He eventually left in 2017 and was paraded around the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium with the haul of the trophies he had helped the club win laid out on the turf.

In April of that year, he signed a four-year contract with AS Roma.

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The Sevilla legend was given an emotional send-off in 2017 before joining Roma

How is he getting on in Serie A?

The transition from Spanish to Italian football has been a relatively painless one for Monchi and his network of scouts.

Stars have continued to come and go at the Stadio Olimpico, with Monchi replacing the likes of Alisson Becker with Robin Olsen and also Antonio Rudiger with former Sevilla start Fazio.

The former goalkeeper has also continued with his emphasis on signing starlets to promote into the first team, with Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert currently strutting their stuff in the Italian capital.

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Roma’s current crop of stars is an amalgamation of rising superstars and cost-effective transfers

What Unai Emery has said about him

The Arsenal boss was effusive in his praise of Monchi when asked about the possibility of re-uniting with the sporting director at Arsenal.

“Now I can only say he is working in Roma,” said the Gunners’ head coach. “I worked very well with him in Sevilla. My relationship with him is good but the issue is only the club’s responsibility.

“I can only say he is a good person and a good professional.”

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