The Scouting Philosophy of Monchi

The Scouting Philosophy of Monchi

In the first part of this three part series, Sevilla direc­tor of foot­ball Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, bet­ter known as Monchi, out­lines his phi­los­o­phy behind set­ting up FC Sevilla’s sport­ing direc­tion and his key the­o­ry of con­cen­tric cir­cles for scout­ing players.

Read in Spanish 🇪🇸

In 2000, after Sevilla were rel­e­gat­ed from La Liga, Monchi was appoint­ed direc­tor of foot­ball for the Rojiblancos’. He was giv­en two objec­tives by the board: devel­op the club’s youth sys­tem and imple­ment a vast scout­ing pol­i­cy inside and out­side of Spain. 

Monchi’s first strate­gic move was to pro­fes­sion­alise the acad­e­my and focus more on play­er devel­op­ment, rather than pure­ly on results. When you work with younger teams, there’s always this dichoto­my, this divi­sion between result and devel­op­ment,” said Monchi. I’ve always been firm on this. I’ve always been very con­sis­tent in show­ing peo­ple that the most impor­tant thing was play­er devel­op­ment. The results come lat­er, because the more the play­er improves, the bet­ter the results will be.“

During his time with Sevilla, Monchi dis­cov­ered future inter­na­tion­al Spanish stars such as Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas and Jose Antonio Reyes, while also find­ing a num­ber of prof­itable bar­gains in the form of Adriano, Julio Baptista, Ivan Rakitic and Seydou Keita. 

After spending more than a decade as a Sevilla player, Monchi now heads the Scouting direction at the club.

The con­cen­tric cir­cles theory 

But how does Monchi exe­cute his scout­ing strat­e­gy? One key fac­tor is his con­cen­tric cir­cles the­o­ry’. In terms of the scout­ing depart­ment, I’ve always had an obses­sion,” said Monchi. I always thought that the more times we were able to watch a play­er, the eas­i­er it would’ve been to make deci­sions. So we worked and real­ized what I call the con­cen­tric cir­cles the­o­ry’. Concentric cir­cles, from the small­er one to the big­ger and then the big­ger. Basically, we were build­ing a frame­work that allowed us to dom­i­nate a cer­tain range.”

I’ve always been very con­sis­tent in show­ing peo­ple that the most impor­tant thing was play­er devel­op­ment. The results come lat­er, because the more the play­er improves, the bet­ter the results will be.“ - Monchi

Applying the con­cen­tric cir­cles the­o­ry to the set­ting up of Sevilla’s scout­ing depart­ment, Monchi start­ed with a small sec­tor of coun­tries to cov­er, before expand­ing out fur­ther. If there were three of us the first year, why would we cov­er the whole world when it was impos­si­ble?” explains Monchi. We tried to be strong in a cer­tain sec­tor. For exam­ple, in Spain, Portugal and France to begin with. When there were five of us, we tried to add Italy, England and Belgium. We did that, grow­ing to what we are today, dom­i­nat­ing around 30 – 35 major leagues in an exhaus­tive way. We always tried cov­er­ing and know­ing what we were able to, in order to have good knowl­edge. Knowledge is the basis for all scout­ing work.”

Monchi poses with the Europa League trophy. A competition in which Sevilla has a record of five titles under his mandate as sports director.

What makes a suc­cess­ful direc­tor of football?

Part of Monchi’s phi­los­o­phy is that foot­ball is a sport but is also a game, in which you have an impor­tant com­po­nent of luck. With part of his dai­ly work being to min­i­mize this luck com­po­nent as much as possible. 

I think I had the luck of always hav­ing a good con­nec­tion with the man­ag­er,” said Monchi. Always know­ing what every man­ag­er need­ed in every moment, even if I made mis­takes many times, I think it was key to nur­ture the play­ers. In the end, a Sporting Director sells play­ers at a good price only if they per­form well. If they don’t per­form well, then as good as I may be, I can’t sell them. To allow them to per­form well, to play well, it’s impor­tant to only sign play­ers that fit per­fect­ly to the pro­file that the man­ag­er wants.”

Where can sign­ings go wrong?

When do sign­ings go wrong? When you’re not able to under­stand what the man­ag­er wants, things start to go bad and the per­for­mance is not good,” said Monchi. There’s some­thing fun­da­men­tal to me — I’ve always been a lock­er room’ Sporting Director, very close to the play­ers, to the peo­ple. But some­times we for­get they’re people. 

Footballers are peo­ple and you have to be very close to them and try to help them, know them, and give them what they need. All of this is part of my way of work­ing: work hard, have good coor­di­na­tion with the man­ag­er and stay close to the players.” 

Part two of this series will explain the scout­ing pro­files Monchi and his team use to iden­ti­fy play­ers, with a focus on how data fits into scout­ing processes.