Arsenal thought they had their man. By many accounts, Monchi, the superstar sporting director credited with forging an era for unprecedented success at Sevilla and, partly, with guiding Roma to the semi finals of the Champions League last season, had an offer from the Gunners and he was expected to accept it.
So last week’s announcement that Monchi, rather than making the move to North London, would be returning to Sevilla came as something of a surprise, not least to those in the corridors of power at Arsenal. For months, Monchi had been a target, but like so many of the Gunners’ targets he choose to look elsewhere.
This disappointment was compounded by Marc Overmars, another option to fill the sporting director’s position at Emirates Stadium, deciding to extend his contract at Ajax the very next day. Overmars was never Arsenal’s number one choice for the job, but he was a good option. That option is now gone.
Arsenal find themselves in a transitional period right now, not just on the field, but off it too. Unai Emery, it seems, is making progress in leading the Gunners into the top four, but things remain fluid behind the scenes as the North London club restructure following the exit of Arsene Wenger at the end of last season.
The idea was always for a sporting director, of some sorts, to be appointed in the post-Wenger age. The hiring of Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment 18 months ago seemed to be made with the intention of moving the German into a more senior role this season. That didn’t happen, though, and Mislintat left Arsenal at the start of February in frustration.
This suggested that Arsenal were no longer so committed to the notion of a sporting director, but their pursuit of Monchi illustrated otherwise. The Spaniard’s snub towards the North London club shouldn’t blur their focus, though. The Gunners still need someone of a similar mould and they must be considered in their recruitment process.
This process should be thorough, but Arsenal, so far, have been muddled in their thinking. Why was Monchi set to be afforded the freedom Mislintat was denied? What led Monchi to snub them? The Gunners are fighting against the current of many off-the-field factors, but they must swim against them to get where they want to be.
How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.