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Monchi on the transfer market, Roma fans, getting Zaniolo and more...

As part of an ongoing series of interviews with sporting directors at some of Italy's biggest clubs, Roma sporting director Monchi recently sat down with Sky Sport Italia to discuss his approach.

The Spaniard - who joined the Giallorossi in the spring of 2017 after a long and successful spell at hometown club Sevilla - discussed what he has learned in his first 18 months in the Italian capital, his critical approach to his own work, and much more - including some of the details behind the deal that brought Nicolo Zaniolo to the Stadio Olimpico.

We have collected some quotes from the first part of Monchi's interview - with more to be published later this week.

On the transfer window opening...

"When the transfer window comes around, it’s like the world revolves around sporting directors, with everyone expecting them to bring in top players.

"For me, the January transfer window doesn’t change a team a great deal. It’s a time to do a few small things. If you have to make four or five purchases it means you’ve made a lot of mistakes."

On his collaborative approach...

"I never bring in a player that I want but the coach doesn’t, and that works both ways. Neither of us should impose our will – every decision needs to be shared. I’ve got 16 scouts that work with me; they travel around a great deal and watch a lot of football. It’s not just me."

On identifying targets...

"At the start of the year we do a general overview. Then we earmark players and begin travelling. We watch players 6-12 times, both live and on TV. We always have to watch them live. I do believe in watching players on video too – that’s what you should do for the first time. Then, when you see there’s something there, the player needs to be watched live."

On the differences in Rome...

"Here it’s like a shop window – everything appears in the news. That for me was a big change. In Spain it’s not continuously in the news, particularly during the season. It doesn’t change a great deal, but it can happen that a team suddenly becomes aware of a player that you’re tracking.

"The Roma fans are always right. When you support a team like Roma – a big side in Italy and abroad – you need to win something. I can’t say anything now. Putting the press aside, I’ve always felt like the fans have been with me along the way. But we do also need to achieve something for them – it’s a long time since we’ve won something.

"I didn’t come here to sell Antonio Rudiger but to balance the books. This summer I made sales that I believed to be right for the club. I don’t have a magic wand. I work with younger and older guys. I think that slowly but surely the fans, and you, can begin to understand my approach. I know that often you don’t get time in football, but I’m convinced that my colleagues and myself are right."

On his own evaluation of his work... 

"I’m the person that demands most from me. If you hear me speak, I always say that a sporting director must have certain characteristics. One is being able to understand one’s mistakes. The day after a win I am concerned – I never rest on my laurels after a victory. Every day I say to myself: “Monchi, where did you go wrong?”. I always front up. I’m lucky to work independently. If I go wrong, it’s not because of [James] Pallotta.

"It’s too early to say [if I've made mistakes here]. Six months after I got Dani Alves people were saying: 'Why did you bring him in?' Last year we needed to achieve a large capital gain and we managed to come third in the league and reach the semi-final of the Champions League. It’s difficult to say as for this year. We’ll assess the situation at the end of the season. I’ve made some mistakes – I truly believe that."

On the deal for Nicolo Zaniolo...

"There was a negotiation in progress. We wanted to bring some players in and we made two requests: Zaniolo and [Andrei] Radu, but he’d already agreed to go to Genoa. Piero [Ausilio] is good at his job and did not want to sell him, but he did want Radja. I never said that we wouldn’t do the deal without Zaniolo, but we both knew that either side would have to yield in some way. I did not think that he could make such an impact so early but when he arrived, we realised that he’d improve quickly. Credit to the coach for showing faith in him."

On working alongside Totti...

"He’s a very switched-on person. I don’t know if he likes the idea of being a sporting director but what he says always makes sense.

"I’d never thought I’d [be a sporting director]. I wanted to be a lawyer. However during a tough period for Sevilla, when I was team manager, we got relegated. Nobody wanted to be the sporting director and the president at the time asked me if I’d do it. I said I would without too much hesitation."

 
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