Sevilla and the science of soccer's summer transfer window

There are three transactions, though, that those inside the club discuss with particular pride.

The first is the one that started it all: the sale of José Antonio Reyes, a homegrown prospect, to Arsenal in 2004. The departure of Reyes was greeted with fury by fans, but it was unavoidable to get the club on sound economic footing. “It did not cancel our debt completely, but it made a big difference,” José María Cruz, the club's chief executive, said.

The second is the one that made Monchi's name. In the summer of 2003, Sevilla dispatched a scout to watch the South American under-20 championship. It was the only European club in attendance, and its representative raved to Monchi about an 18-year-old right back playing for Brazil. Dani Alves would go on to play for Barcelona, Juventus and Paris St.-Germain, and win some 40 trophies.

It is the third deal, though, that is perhaps most significant, that had the greatest impact on how Sevilla works in the transfer market today.

On Aug. 31, 2005, at 10:30 p.m., Monchi's phone rang. Real Madrid, he was told, had paid the release clause in the contract of Sevilla's young, locally reared defender Sergio Ramos.

Monchi had thought it “impossible” that Ramos would leave, so he and his team had not been scouting for central defenders. “We used to only work on finding new players for the positions that we thought we had to strengthen,” he said. With only a few minutes left to find a replacement before the transfer window closed, he had “nothing on my list, so I threw it to fate.”

He called a few contacts. Someone in Belgium, someone he trusted, recommended a Serb named Ivica Dragutinovic. Monchi had never seen him play. “I knew he was white, that's it,” he said. He had nothing to lose. Sevilla bought him.

Dragutinovic spent seven years in Seville, winning six trophies. “We could have decided that all we should do is call that same person every time and ask for his recommendations,” Monchi said. “Or we could learn that we have to work more, to look in all positions, so that it never happens again.”

I'd love to have seen Dani Alves at Liverpool and I'm sure the player was talked about many times before he opted for Barcelona.

As a Roma supporter, I was excited when it was announced that Monchi was joining the club, but 18 months later he found himself back on his way to Seville. Liverpool suffered a similar journey with Damien Comolli, a person often credited as the man that found Tottenham players that would improve the team for a small cost that could then be sold for a bigger profit. It's exactly the business Seville are in but for both Roma and Liverpool, it just didn't work out.

Seville and Monchi seem to compliment each other very well, Liverpool seem to have found the formula that works for them too, despite very little activity this year.

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