When German talent guru Sven Mislintat announced he would be leaving Arsenal in January, rumours abounded that Monchi was being lined up as a replacement.
In fact, it was said that Arsenal overlooked Mistlintat for the role of technical director, a role we know now he greatly desired, with a view to re-uniting Unai Emery with Monchi, his former partner in crime from their time at Sevilla.
All Arsenal’s egg, it would seem, were placed in a summer swoop for Monchi, with Raul Sanllehi seemingly confident the Spanish connection would be enough to land his man.
News today then, that Monchi had rejected Arsenal’s approach in favour of a return to Sevilla came as something of a surprise. I can only imagine how the decision was received in the boardroom.
Worse than the mere embarrassment of being publically friend-zoned by one of the most sought-after technical directors in the game, we allowed another of the game’s finest exponents of the art to walk out the door too.
Monchi is quoted by Sky Sports as saying:
“I thank Arsenal for their interest. It has been the club that has shown the most interest in me but, in the end, I evaluated all of the offers I had on the table and I chose the one that convinced me most.
“I had other options, and very important ones that were flashier, but I’ve chosen Sevilla because its sporting project convinced me.
“I want to thank everyone that contributed to my return to what I consider to be my home.”
Monchi left Sevilla in April 2017, bringing an end to a 17-year period where the La Liga side won 11 trophies, including three Europa League titles.
He added: “Many people outside of Seville have told me that I’ve made the wrong choice, that sequels are never good.
“I’ve evaluated all of this. I’m here not because I’m a Sevilla fan, not to save someone’s skin, but because in the conversations I’ve had with the club president and other club executives, they have transmitted to me an idea of what Sevilla’s future could be that coincides with what I believe Sevilla’s future should be.
“My idea is to help Sevilla grow. I want to build a Sevilla team that can fight among the best.”
If that isn’t both revealing and pretty damning for Arsenal too, I don’t know what is.
Arsenal are a bigger club than Sevilla, they have a bigger global fanbase, are more successful, have more money, and have better players, with an amazing crop of talented youngsters on the cusp of the first team. We can also afford to pay far better wages and our pulling power for top talent is twice that of Sevilla’s.
And yet, despite those obvious facts, one of the game’s most highly regarded technical directors thought the proposition on the table from a mid-table Spanish side was better than what was on offer at Arsenal.
What does that say about what we were proposing?
Of course, it’s quite possible that Monchi is home sick and simply fancied returning to his native Spain. That’s perfectly reasonable and perfectly possible too, but you have to think a man at the top of his game with such opportunities available to him might grasp the nettle.
Alas, not. Even with the added bonus of working with his good friend Emery, Monchi decided it wasn’t for him, and that’s a worry.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on the work of the technical director and all the functions he or she might be expected to perform but it’s obviously a position the club has been keen to fill for some time.
With two top options no longer available to us, where on earth do we go from here? I had hoped the days of cack-handed transfer business and back room appointment had retired gracefully with Arsene Wenger but, sadly, perhaps that’s not the case.
When he eventually faces the press again in a few weeks, Monchi’s decision is almost certain to be the first question out of the gate – and rightly so – but whether Emery will deign to elaborate or simply deflect remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, however, this is one gamble that has backfired badly on the Gunners and it will take some swift and diligent work to set it right.
Marc Overmars anyone?!