In the Europa League final, Roma meet their destroyer against Sevilla again: Monchi

In the Europa League final, Roma meet their destroyer against Sevilla again: Monchi

In 2017 the sporting director was welcomed as a rock star, a kind of wizard of purchases and transfers, the right man to re-found a team that dreamed big. It went very badly

There is an idea that the stars and stripes films have been repeating incessantly for over a century. So much so that it has now crystallized into a topos literary. Because every individual growth necessarily passes through the killing of one's darkest fear. It will be the same for the Romethe club that in order to become truly great and raise theEuropa League will have to defeat the Sevilla of Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo said Monchi, the man who four years ago had taken it apart one piece at a time, squandering its talent. One painful assignment after another. One wrong purchase after another.

The story begins in 2017, when Monchi is welcomed in the capital not as a sports director, but as a rock star. His mirrored glasses and unstructured jackets immediately become a trademark, a symbol of success. A bit King Midas a bit Rino Gaetano's Lucky Head, his figure is surrounded by an aura of unshakeable infallibility. Everything he touches turns to gold. All the capital gains he generates are converted into trophies. On the other hand, he is still the man who transformed a club with a non-existent European tradition into a team capable of winning five editions of the Europa League. And now everyone expects him to copy his magic formula in Pallotta's club as well.

His presentation press conference goes down in history. "The problem isn't selling, it's buying badly," she says. "Roma doesn't have a sign that says 'if they sell'. They have a sign that says 'if they gana', you win", he swears. Enthusiasm is sky high. A few months later a book is published. It is simply called "Monchi" and was written by the Spanish journalist Daniel Pinilla. Halfway between the life of the saints and the advertising flyer, the volume explains in detail the "method" of the manager. And he does it through an excess of molasses, using expressions such as "Monchi's excellent critical eye" or "The obligation of a good sports director, and Monchi is (…)" or again "The skilful management of our director sporty". The man of Seville thus becomes both a holy man and a saint, a figure surrounded by pure light.

Yet in his first yellow and red signings campaign, Monchi starts that work of squandering the legacy received from Walter Sabatini. The ds sells Mario Rui, sells Rüdiger, sells Paredes, sells Salah. They make over a hundred million that can be reinvested on the market. And that is exactly the problem. The market carried out by Monchi is busted, almost grotesque. Héctor Moreno, Karsdorp, Gonalons, Kolarov, Under and Pellegrini arrive (exploiting the repurchase right that Roma had included in the contract with Sassuolo). But the attack is the department that is strengthened the most. Or maybe not. For Di Francesco's 4-3-3, a right winger is needed who can replace Salah, sold to Liverpool for 50 million. Monchi is sure he can pull off Riyad Mahrez at Leicester. But he wants to do it on his terms. So begins an endless negotiation that after weeks bursts like a soap bubble. A plan B is needed. Which the sporting director identifies in Defrel (paid 23 million by Sassuolo). But that's not enough. The Roma squad also needs a starter. Monchi then called Sampdoria. And he buys Patrik Schick for 42 million euros. Even more than what the Giallorossi had spent on Batistuta. Small detail: neither Defrel nor Schick are two role attacking wingers. Their contribution to Rome will be almost nil. The Frenchman scores 1 goal in the league because Dzeko decides to give him a penalty. Schick makes 5 in two years. Roma reach the semifinals of the Champions League, but it is clear to everyone that this is the swan song.

The following season Monchi completes his masterpiece in reverse. This time the sporting director is dealing with Bordeaux for Malcolm. It seems all done. So much so that the French invite Monchi to tweet that the Brazilian has boarded the plane bound for Rome. Sounds like a happy ending. Except that Barcelona read the twitter and decide to close with the player. And so the negotiating king discovers that he has been duped publicly. The rest of the shopping campaign is embarrassing. Because Monchi betrays all the points of his "method". He sells Alisson, Nainggolan and Strootman. And he welcomes Mirante, Olsen, Fuzato, Bianda, Marcano, Santon, Coric and Kluivert. The most valuable pieces on the market, however, are others. Cristante and Zaniolo arrive, but also Nzonzi (paid 30 million), Pastore (25). Two players in their thirties, with expensive cards and salaries as heavy as lead. Rome sinks into mediocrity. Monchi doesn't even make it to the end of the season. He resigns, leaving behind the rubble of an exhausted team, with no more talent, no more resources. In all the ds has burned almost 270 million on the market. But only Kolarov, Zaniolo, Pellegrini and Cristante have given, or are giving, something to Roma.

It is a fact that goes beyond the common notion of a disaster. Shortly after Monchi returns to Seville, the place where his method seems to work wonders, winning another Europa League. That tonight could become two. Roma, on the other hand, almost finds itself in a video game from the 1990s, when you have to overcome the "final boss" to win. And that enemy at the end of the level is called Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, the man who had come from Spain to make Roma great but who sucked away all their talent.

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