Arsenal

Monchi's best buys: a guide to the kind of bargains Arsenal can expect

 • by Ryan Baldi
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Probably the most famous sporting director in football, Monchi, through his 17 years with Sevilla and two at Roma, is regarded as one of the game’s finest talent-spotters and deal-makers.

Set to leave Roma at the end of the season, it is speculated that the Spanish former goalkeeper is on his way to Arsenal, where he will link up once more with ex-Sevilla boss Unai Emery.

With recruitment guru Sven “Diamond Eye” Mislintat having departed Arsenal in February, the Gunners have reportedly chosen Monchi as the man to take control of their transfer dealings.

Here, we look back at Monchi’s ten best buys to see what kind of bargains Arsenal can expect.

Dani Alves

Dani Alves at Barcelona

The player Monchi regards as his greatest signing, Sevilla plucked Alves from Bahia in Brazil for less than half a million pounds in 2003.

In five years with the Andalusian club, Alves starred in two UEFA Cup triumphs, gaining a reputation as one of the most adventurous and exciting right-backs in the world thanks to his tireless, rampaging runs up the flank.

Sevilla finally cashed in on the Brazilian in 2008, selling him to Barcelona for £28million, where he went on to win a treble in his first season.

Júlio Baptista

A player who will conjure few positive memories for Arsenal fans, Baptista enjoyed a mediocre season on loan at the Emirates in the mid-2000s. But before his underwhelming three years with Real Madrid, the powerful Brazilian was one of the most prolific attacking midfielders in La Liga with Sevilla.

Signed from São Paulo in 2003, with whom he’d never scored more than five league goals in a single season, Baptista was liberated from his previous defensive-midfield role and went on to score 47 goals in two seasons with Sevilla.

Ivan Rakitić

Croatian midfielder Rakitić was used to a more attacking remit during his time with Schalke, but Sevilla dropped the playmaker a little deeper, allowing his passing skills and reading of the game to come to the fore, and he flourished.

Rakitić spent three and a half season with Sevilla, going on to captain the side, before joining Barcelona in 2014. Like Alves, who became a team-mate at the Camp Nou, the former Basel midfielder was key a treble success in his first campaign with the Blaugrana.

Cengiz Ünder

An early success story of Monchi’s time at Roma, Ünder was the breakout star of the Turkish Super Lig with İstanbul Başakşehir in the 2016/17 season, before joining the Giallorossi in a €13.4million deal.

Since arriving in Rome, the 21-year-old winger has marked himself out as one of Serie A’s most exciting attackers with his pace, dribbling ability and powerful shot from distance. Were Ünder to be sold in the near future, Roma could easily expect to command three times the amount they paid for the youngster.

Grzegorz Krychowiak

By the summer of 2014, Krychowiak had spent the last two seasons with in Reims in Ligue 1, having previously been on loan with the club, as well as Nantes, in the French second tier.

Monchi saw a potential star. And, of course, a potential bargain. Sevilla snapped up the Pole for just €4.5million, and he quickly established himself as one of the best pure holding midfielders in Europe, joining Paris Saint-Germain for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £25million in 2016.

Nicolò Zaniolo

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Monchi’s business savvy managed to turn what could have been a negative for Roma, the sale of talismanic midfielder Radja Nainggolan to Inter last summer, into an overwhelming positive by negotiating for gifted 19-year-old playmaker Nicolò Zaniolo to move the other way.

The teenage star has produced some moments of magic already for Roma and looks destined to become one of the finest attacking midfielder’s in Serie A for years to come.

A decade Nainggolan’s junior, the fact Roma received Zaniolo plus cash for the fiery Belgian is testament to Monchi’s negotiation skills.

Seydou Keita

Malian international’s Keita spent just one season with Sevilla, the 2007/08 campaign. Picked up from Lens in Ligue for just €4.5million, he so impressed in his single term at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan that Barcelona triggered his €14million release clause.

The versatile and reliable midfielder joined up with Alves as the Camp Nou to form a key part of Pep Guardiola’s revolution. Sevilla played a small but crucial role in Keita’s career development, turning a quick and significant profit in the process.

Adriano

Yet another player who swapped the Sánchez Pizjuan for the Camp Nou is Brazilian full-back Adriano.

Monchi signed Adriano from Coritiba as a teenager and the defender, who could play in either full-back position, was a mainstay of the Sevilla first team for five and a half years, winning two UEFA Cups and two Copas del Rey.

He joined Barcelona in 2010 and, although he was never a guaranteed starter with the Catalan giants, his versatility was an asset, contributing to the Blaugrana claiming an incredible 16 trophies, including four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues, during his six years at the club.

Steven N’Zonzi

Largely overlooked during his time in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City, imposing midfielder N’Zonzi was somewhat of a surprise signing for Sevilla in 2015, with the Spanish side forking out £7million for his services.

Stationed at the base of midfield, it was the Frenchman’s technical gifts, rather than the size and power he was valued for in England, that came to the fore, a fine passer, tactically disciplined and an organiser of the middle third.

Monchi was clearly impressed by his time working with N’Zonzi at Sevilla as he signed him for Roma in 2018.

Geoffrey Kondogbia

Like Krychowiak, Monchi plucked Kondogbia from relative obscurity in France, signing the midfielder from Ligue 2’s Lens in the summer of 2012 for just €3million.

The rangy Frenchman was an instant hit, the midfield driving force of Sevilla’s 2013/14 Europa League triumph under current Arsenal boss Emery.

Kondogbia was sold to Monaco the next season, with Sevilla making a €17million profit on the player. After a disappointing spell with Inter, the 26-year-old is now back in La Liga with Valencia.

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