Monchi, sporting director behind Sevilla's success, leaves the club

Friday March 31st, 2017

MADRID (AP) – One of the men behind Sevilla's recent success is leaving the club.

Sports director Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, known as Monchi, is ending his 17-year stint with Sevilla.

''The decision to leave came mostly because of exhaustion,'' Monchi said. ''I was exhausted lately. There was always a lot of pressure.''

Monchi departs after revolutionizing the Spanish club and helping it reach 16 finals and win nine titles in Spain and Europe. His scouting system helped rescue the team from the brink of financial collapse and turned him into one the most sought-after soccer directors in Europe.

He has been linked to Italian club AS Roma, but dismissed having already signed a deal with another club.

''I haven't signed anything with anybody,'' Monchi said. ''There is Roma, but there are other clubs as well.''

Monchi thanked Sevilla for going out of its way to try to keep at the club.

''It tried to convince me in every possible way,'' Monchi said. ''The offer that I was made won't be matched by anybody else out there. I insist that it was a personal decision. There was nothing that could have convinced me.''

Sevilla president Jose Castro said the club will always keep the doors open for Monchi.

''We did the impossible to try to keep Monchi with us, including making an offer outside the market standards for Sevilla,'' Castro said. ''But it was a decision that was more personal than professional.''

Monchi is believed to have helped Sevilla earn more than 200 million euros ($215 million) in transfers with his method of finding cheap players with potential and re-selling them to bigger clubs.

Among the players discovered by him are Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Julio Baptista, Sergio Ramos, Seydou Keita, Jesus Navas and Carlos Bacca. Alves, a regular with Brazil and currently with Juventus, is considered one of his most successful signings - being bought for 1 million euros ($1.1 million) from a small Brazilian club and sold to Barcelona for 30 million euros ($33 million).

Despite a limited budget compared to the powerhouses of European soccer, including local rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, Monchi helped Sevilla win the last three Europa League titles. It also won two Copa del Reys, one Spanish Super Cup, one European Super Cup and two UEFA Cups.

The team is contending for the Spanish league title for the first time in nearly a decade, sitting third in the standings behind Barcelona and Madrid. It made it to the last 16 in the Champions League, but a tearful Monchi watched as Sevilla was eliminated by Leicester.

''I chose this moment because I thought it would cause the least harm to the club,'' Monchi said.

The 48-year-old former goalkeeper had a contract with Sevilla until 2020, with a reported buyout clause of five million euros ($5.4 million). Spanish media said his deal with Roma is almost finalized.

Despite his departure, Sevilla is expected to keep using the so-called ''Monchi Method,'' which consists of a vast network of scouts and soccer specialists who watch games in leagues around the world, especially in places where Sevilla can have a competitive edge in the transfer market.

''There might be some changes,'' Castro said, ''but the club is well-structured to avoid problems going forward.''

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