Barca presidential candidate eager to appoint Monchi - a look at the Sevilla chief's transfer hits and misses

By Sports Desk December 30, 2020

Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito has outlined his plans to bring in transfer guru Monchi should he succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu in next month's elections.

Monchi is arguably the most revered sporting director in football thanks to his impressive business across two stints with Sevilla, either side of a less successful spell with Roma.

And Benedito, who has twice run unsuccessfully for the club's presidency, would happily give Monchi free rein to revolutionise Barca's transfer policy.

"We met in 2015 several times with Koeman and he had strong ideas. I think he will open a spell that lasts several years at the helm," Benedito told Goal. 

"In terms of sporting direction, back then we bet on Monchi and we spoke to him, too. I still think he is in the top three in the world and would be a brilliant addition.

"Back then it seemed he would never leave Sevilla and then he went to Italy and came back. The first thing I will do if I am president will be to call Monchi and try to convince him."

But would Monchi really be the right fit for Barca, who are clearly in need of some sort of overhaul? We look at his transfer hits and misses across two decades working behind the scenes.

THE HITS

Dani Alves

Alves was plucked from the obscurity of Bahia while still a teenager, initially joining Sevilla on loan before signing permanently for a reported €550,000 fee.

The attacking full-back formed a fine partnership on the right with Jesus Navas and played a crucial role in back-to-back UEFA Cup triumphs. 

He joined Barcelona for €41.5m in 2008, winning every title possible in one of the greatest eras in the club's history, before spells with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Sao Paolo.


Freddie Kanoute

In the Premier League with West Ham and Tottenham, Kanoute was effective but by no means a star.

Sevilla were said to have parted with €6.5m to bring him to Spain, and after a decent first season, he really found his groove with 21 LaLiga strikes in the 2006-07 campaign. 

He formed one of the best striker partnerships in Europe with Luis Fabiano and was vital in their back-to-back UEFA Cup triumphs. The club never turned his form into a transfer profit, but he became a Sevilla icon and one of their greatest ever players.


Ivan Rakitic 

A little like with Kanoute, Monchi brought Rakitic to Sevilla when the midfielder appeared to be struggling to live up to his early promise. The club paid Schalke just €2.5m for the Croatian in January 2011 and the midfielder enjoyed an excellent first few months. 

His first full season showed why doubts about him had arisen in Germany, as he failed to score a single goal in LaLiga, but Unai Emery's arrival in the 2012-13 campaign saw his fortunes transform.

The following season Rakitic inspired Europa League success, earning his €18m move to Barcelona where he enjoyed great success before returning to Sevilla in September.


Ever Banega

The early years of Banega's career were mired by fitness issues and negative headlines, such as the time he ran himself over with his own car.

When he first joined Sevilla in 2014, there was an air of 'now or never' for the gifted Argentina international, who cost just €2.5m as Valencia reportedly just wanted rid of him. 

After a slow start he became one of the first names on the team sheet, playing arguably the best football of his career and winning two Europa Leagues. He left for Inter in 2016 but returned a year later, with Monchi counting him as one of his best buys.


Jules Kounde

Monchi returned for a second spell with Sevilla in 2019 and, perhaps needing to prove himself again after his underwhelming stay in Rome, he pulled off another transfer coup by bringing in Kounde from Bordeaux for a reported €25m.

That is a substantially higher fee than the other names mentioned, granted, but it is a club-record transfer that has more than paid off thus far.

The centre-back was a key member of Sevilla's latest Europa League-winning squad and attracted interest from numerous clubs during the close season, with his valuation said to have doubled in the space of a year.


THE MISSES

Patrik Schick

Monchi spent around €230m on a raft of signings while at Roma as they looked to replace the likes of Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker, Antonio Rudiger and Leandro Parades.

The biggest single outlay was on Schick, who struggled to justify his transfer fee - and the hype surrounding his arrival - in his two whole seasons at the Stadio Olimpico.

Schick headed to the Bundesliga in 2019, initially on loan with RB Leipzig before joining Bayer Leverkusen permanently earlier this year for another large fee.


Javier Pastore

Arguably the most disappointing of Monchi's signings, Pastore struggled to adapt to life under Eusebio Di Francesco and little has changed since Paulo Fonseca took over last year.

He started a combined 12 Serie A games in his first two seasons with the club and has yet to play a single minute in all competitions this term.

What made the transfer all the more bizarre for a player past his prime was that Monchi awarded him a five-year deal, making it difficult for the Italian side to offload him.


Steven Nzonzi

This was a signing that perhaps made sense on the face of it as Nzonzi followed Monchi from Sevilla to Roma. He was part of France's successful World Cup squad a month earlier - but it proved to be another example of Roma splashing out big on a player with little resale value.

Nzonzi was a shadow of the player many hoped he would be in the Italian capital and he lasted just one full season before heading out on loan to Galatasaray and then Rennes, all while still on Roma's books.

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Real Madrid wait for Mbappe signal as PSG star asks for time to decide future Rumour Has It: Real Madrid wait for Mbappe signal as PSG star asks for time to decide future

    Kylian Mbappe wants time to make a decision on his future as Real Madrid await a signal from the Paris Saint-Germain star.

    Mbappe, 22, has been linked with a move to Madrid and his contract at PSG ends in 2022.

    But will the forward end up at the Santiago Bernabeu?

     

    TOP STORY – REAL MADRID WAIT FOR MBAPPE

    Real Madrid are waiting for a signal from Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Marca.

    The report says Mbappe has asked for time to decide his future.

    While Madrid have been most strongly linked with a move for Mbappe, Liverpool are also reportedly interested.

    ROUND-UP

    - Staying at Madrid and Fabrizio Romano says a new contract for midfielder Luka Modric is imminent. The Croatian midfielder's current deal expires at the end of the season.

    - Dele Alli's future is set to be a constant talking point until at least the end of this transfer window. ESPN claims Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is reluctant to let the midfielder leave for PSG. Romano reports Spurs are still looking for a replacement and were working on re-signing Christian Eriksen, but Inter wanted a loan fee and the midfielder's salary paid in full.

    - Lyon star Houssem Aouar was linked to Arsenal last close season, but the midfielder could head elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Juventus are looking at the 22-year-old as an option ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

    - Lucas Torreira seems set to move on from Atletico Madrid. Diario AS says Monaco are favourites to sign the midfielder, who is on loan at Atletico from Arsenal.

    - Said Benrahma has made an impression at West Ham. Sky Sports reports West Ham have converted their loan for Benrahma from Brentford into a permanent move, paying £20million plus add-ons. The report says West Ham are also in talks to sign RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan.

  • Premier League data dive: Sheff Utd stun Man Utd as Tuchel pass masters draw a blank Premier League data dive: Sheff Utd stun Man Utd as Tuchel pass masters draw a blank

    Manchester United were stunned by bottom club Sheffield United in a seismic result for both ends of the Premier League table.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were expected to regain top spot and end Manchester City's stay at the summit after 24 hours, although Chris Wilder's basement boys had other ideas.

    Former City youth product Kean Bryan gave the visitors the lead at Old Trafford but normal service looked to have been resumed when former Blade Harry Maguire headed home.

    But Oliver Burke had the final word in the 74th minute, giving Sheffield United a 2-1 triumph – only their second win of the Premier League season.

    Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham could not add to their pair of wins after a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium and sit 10 and five points better off than Wilder's men respectively.

    It was the same scoreline at Stamford Bridge as Thomas Tuchel's reign got off to an underwhelming start against Wolves, while Everton against Leicester City also ended all square and there was a thrilling win for Burnley over Aston Villa.

    Here are the pick of the Opta facts from some results that might look crucial in the final reckoning.

    Manchester United 1-2 Sheffield United: Bryan and Burke land title-race body blow

    It was a case of familiar frailties returning to haunt United's title bid as Bryan headed home John Fleck's corner.

    Since the start of last season, no team has shipped more goals from corners than the 14 let in by Manchester United, Brighton and Chelsea.

    Maguire also made the most of slack set-piece marking to net his sixth league goal for the club and his first at home.

    But the hosts' defending from open play left a similar amount to be desired as Burke settled matters via a deflection off Axel Tuanzebe.

    Bryan and Burke are the first players to net their maiden Premier League goals in the same match against United since Esteban Cambiasso and Jamie Vardy did likewise for Leicester in 2014.

    Four defeats in 10 home matches means the Red Devils have amassed their highest number of league losses at Old Trafford since going down in seven in 2013-14.

    Sheffield United became the first team from Yorkshire to win a Premier League game at Manchester United and only the third side in the Premier League era, following Leeds United in January 2010 (FA Cup) and York City in September 1996 (League Cup).

    Chelsea 0-0 Wolves: Possession without penetration for Tuchel's Blues

    A day after being installed as Frank Lampard's successor, Tuchel saw his swiftly remodelled Chelsea dominate but fail to find the net against Wolves.

    Struggles against Nuno Espirito Santo's side are nothing new, no matter who is in charge. This is the second time in three seasons that Wolves have gone unbeaten versus Chelsea, having also won at Molineux and drawn at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19.

    The visitors certainly had to work to keep their opponents at bay as the Blues hogged 78.9 per cent of possession and racked up 820 passes. Since Opta began collecting this data in 2003-04, both are the highest totals by a team in their coach's first match in charge.

    Tuchel is on a run of four consecutive league clean sheets after Paris Saint-Germain completed shutouts in his final three Ligue 1 matches.

    Before this season, Thiago Silva was a key part of his backline in the French capital. Reunited in London, the Brazil veteran is now unbeaten in 25 home league appearances under Tuchel (W22 D3).

    Wolves have not been so assured defensively of late and this was their first league clean sheet since a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on October 30, ending a run of 12 straight games without one.

    Burnley 3-2 Aston Villa: Wood heads for the heights to lift Clarets

    Chris Wood netted a 79th-minute winner as Burnley twice came from behind at Turf Moor to beat Aston Villa and move nine points clear of the relegation zone.

    Wood rose to nod home a cross from winger Dwight McNeil for something of a trademark goal. Since his top-flight debut for Burnley in August 2017, no player has scored more headed goals than the New Zealand striker, who is level with Harry Kane on 15.

    McNeil pulled Sean Dyche's side level after Jack Grealish netted his sixth league goal of the campaign. Combined with his eight assists, the England star has 14 goal involvements in 18 Premier League matches – the same number he managed last season (eight goals, six assists).

    Ollie Watkins matched Grealish's goals mark from 2019-20 when he opened the scoring, making it eight Premier League goals in 18 outings.

    Ashley Westwood got the assist for Ben Mee's initial equaliser, meaning he has 16 assists for Burnley in the competition. Only Johann Gudmundsson (17) has more.

    Everton 1-1 Leicester City: Long-range lone ranger James shines again

    James Rodriguez continued his fine form for Everton with a spectacular strike to put Carlo Ancelotti's men in front.

    The Colombia international has scored 19 goals from outside the box in Europe's top five leagues – three for Monaco, 11 for Real Madrid, three for Bayern Munich and now two for Everton.

    This was his first with his right foot and added to an impressive personal haul of four goals and three assists. Only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (11) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Everton this season.

    However, another specialist made sure the points were shared. All five of Youri Tielemans' goals for Leicester in the league this season have come away from home.

    The Belgium international has netted the most away goals of any player yet to score at home this term.

    Everton might well have a further say in the title battle to come. They are unbeaten in the three league games they have played against opponents starting the day above them in the table this season – a 1-0 win over Chelsea and 2-0 defeat of Leicester last December.

    Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Fulham: All square in tense basement battle

    High stakes did nothing for the entertainment value in this relegation six-pointer, completing a pair of 0-0 draws between Brighton and Fulham this season.

    Perhaps it was not for the want of trying – with 26 shots combined (16 for Brighton and 10 for Fulham), only Aston Villa v Burnley (33) last month and Leeds United v Arsenal (34) in November have produced more shots without a goal being scored in 2020-21.

    It was the first time Fulham have played out two goalless draws against the same opponent in a single season since a pair of 2001-02 stalemates with Leicester.

    Brighton have become bore-draw specialists, playing out 14 0-0s since their promotion to the top-flight in 2017-18, which is more than any other side in that period.

    As their positions in 17th and 18th illustrate, both teams are finding victories hard to come by.

    Fulham are winless in nine, with six draws and three losses, since beating Leicester 2-1 in November, while Brighton's 2-1 triumph against Arsenal in June is their only win in the past 19 matches at the Amex Stadium. Since then they have lost and drawn seven apiece on home turf.

  • Christian Wood: Overseas castoff to potential NBA All-Star Christian Wood: Overseas castoff to potential NBA All-Star

    No player's journey to the NBA has ever been easy. Christian Wood's may just have been the hardest. 

    An undrafted player that was waived several times, including by a team in China, Wood has remarkably ascended into the upper echelon of the league behind a stellar first season in Houston.  

    The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in 12 games, and while he hasn't made Rockets fans forget James Harden, he's certainly offered a ray of optimism in a difficult season.  

    Through January 20, Wood had seven games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Only Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Vucevic had more with eight apiece during that span. 

    Wood and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid are the only players (minimum 10 games) currently among the league's top 25 in points, rebounds and blocks per game.  

    All signs point to stardom for Wood, who is a leading contender for the Most Improved Player award and is even receiving consideration for the 2021 United States Olympic team. None of this could've been predicted early in Wood's career when he had trouble just holding onto a roster spot and was a G League regular.  

    Undrafted in 2015 after two seasons at UNLV, Wood, 25, was given a chance by the Rockets but was never offered a contract. He made his NBA debut with the 76ers in 2015-16, averaging 3.6 points in 17 games but spent most of the season with Delaware in the G League. 

    Wood appeared in 13 games for Charlotte in 2016-17 but was let go after that season and then played for the Mavericks' and Suns' summer league teams in 2017.  

    With no NBA team willing to sign him, Wood accepted an offer from the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese league. He would never play for them and was waived after the Sturgeons signed another former NBA player, Mike Harris.  

    Despite putting up impressive numbers in the G League for Philadelphia in 2017-18 and then Milwaukee the next season, Wood only played in 13 games for the Bucks and averaged 2.8 points.  

    Signed as a free agent by New Orleans in March 2019, Wood finally began to offer glimpses of his potential. He averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in eight games, but the Pelicans decided to waive him on July 15, 2019. 

    Picked up three days later by the Pistons, Wood beat out veteran guard Joe Johnson for the final spot on Detroit's 2019-20 roster. A solid reserve most of that season with averages of 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, Wood's career truly took off when he was inserted into the starting lineup in early February following the trade of center Andre Drummond to Cleveland.

    In the final 13 games that season, Wood averaged 22.8 points on 56.8 per cent shooting and 9.9 rebounds. He even connected on 22 of 55 from three-point range, proving he can be an effective offensive player in a myriad of ways.

    Though Detroit hoped to retain Wood, the Rockets offered a three-year, $41million contract and the teams worked out a sign-and-trade deal. That contract looks like a stroke of genius now for Houston since they have no choice but to undergo a transformation with the trade of Russell Westbrook followed by Harden's blockbuster move to Brooklyn.  

    Wood is currently dealing with a sprained right ankle and has missed the past three games, but his first 12 have left quite an impression.  

    Wood is just one of five players since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 280 points and 125 total rebounds in his first 12 games with a team. The others on that list are Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers, 1996), Zach Randolph (Clippers, 2008), Charles Barkley (Suns, 1992) and Moses Malone (Washington Bullets, 1986). 

    Only Elvin Hayes (326 in 1968) and Harden (294 in 2012) have more points than Wood (282) in their first 12 games with the Rockets. That's a more productive start than Westbrook, Ralph Sampson, Tracy McGrady or even Hakeem Olajuwon had in their first few weeks with the franchise.  

    Missing time in an abbreviated season won't help his case for Most Improved Player but Wood is one of only two qualified players (appeared in 70 per cent of team's games both seasons) to have raised his scoring average by at least 10 points from last season.  

    Wood (+10.4) trails only Detroit’s Jerami Grant (+12.4) in scoring and leads in improvement in rebounds per game (+4.5) and ranks third in blocks (+0.88). 

    Among undrafted players, Wood (23.5) leads the league in scoring by a wide margin over Toronto's Fred VanVleet (18.9) and in rebounding (10.8) over JaMychal Green (6.7) of the Nuggets. 

    In matchups this season against Jokic, Vucevic and San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge – some of the game's best big men – Wood has averaged 24 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. 

    A lack of maturity certainly contributed to Wood's difficulty in landing a regular NBA role early in his career, as did a lack of on-court focus at times. But those issues seem to be a thing of the past and Wood's future is very bright given his youth, athletic ability and skill set that seems tailor made for the modern NBA. 

    Wood will have a difficult time becoming an All-Star in a stacked Western Conference but that his name is even being mentioned among the NBA's elite is rather incredible for a player that the mighty Sturgeons had no use for. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.