Friday, December 8, 2023

Sports directors, the new ‘vedettes’ of the football catwalk

Last Tuesday, May 2, the news broke after eleven at night. Mateo Alemany, the sports architect of Xavi’s Barça, the pruner of the pachydermic salary mass of the squad that Bartomeu left, leaves Barça. It would be symptomatic that he did it for money, but in reality behind it appear Laporta’s tentacles that condition sports decisions with their own interests, which, added to the interest of the English Aston Villa, has caused Alemany to plant the culé president.

Deco by Germany

The ‘president’ has not cried much for his departure, who has embraced populism since the Negreira case was uncovered, with Laporta himself being the one who quadrupled the payments to the arbitrator. In recent days, in Barcelona it has been stated that it has already chosen its new sports director, the Portuguese of Brazilian origin Deco, soccer agent with whom he has sat down to negotiate many agreements in recent times. It so happens that Deco is the representative of raphinha, a player who is being considered as Barça’s main asset to earn money and make room for the possible arrival of Messi. Which makes for a disturbing scenario.

Sports directors have become the new ‘stars’ on the football catwalk. Now the big clubs sign sports directors from other teams, who arrive with millionaire salaries and power to the clubs to manage two variables: the financial health of the entity and the sports performance of its squad. A complicated equation.

Monchi, ‘rock star’ of offices

Among those who have not been able to square it in recent times, names such as Monchi or Víctor Orta appear. The Sevilla player has been lurching for a couple of seasons in terms of transfers, with players who have not finished settling in Nervión and who, in addition to depreciating themselves, have even jeopardized Sevilla’s permanence in the First Division. Monchi is a good example of how sports directors have become stars in the market.

The one from San Fernando He went to Roma, flirted with Barcelona, ​​was probed by Real Madrid… And now he is trying to rebuild a Sevilla with players who have not made the grade like Rafa Mir, Nianzou, Marcao, Montiel, Alex Telles, Papu Gómez, Tecatito or Bryan Gil. With their permanence assured, as it seems it will happen, they are now focused on the Europa League semifinal and then they will have to clean up the squad and change cards again and enter the game of commissions that always leave money along the way.

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His neighbor in Seville, Betis, has seen how Antonio Cordón said goodbye to the club after doing a good job in a club with aspirations and without money. He leaves a Cup and the bar is very high for Ramón Planes, until a few days ago sports director at Getafe. Planes extended the negotiation with Betis after a call from Pochettino to wait for Real Madrid, in which Ancelotti has been questioned by Florentino. Finally Carletto stays at the Bernabéu and Planes has landed at Betis, where he has a complicated task. A high salary mass and a team that needs to make some big sales to stabilize their accounts.

In England, where Spanish managers enjoy prestige, Víctor Orta has been released. The Madrid native, a sports journalist originally, has directed Sevilla, Zenit, Elche, Middlesbrough and Leeds since 2017. Rumors are already sounding of clubs interested in him in Spain, but it seems that he will continue in the Premier.

Jorge Mendes and Atlético

In Spain there are consolidated models such as Real Madrid, where the role of sports director does not exist. Florentino Pérez decides, advised by his general director, José Ángel Sánchez, and the scouting director, Juni Calafat. Others, like Atlético, have a low-profile sports director, Andrea Berta, who consults all decisions with a Diego Pablo Simeone who has a voice and a vote, although in recent times Miguel Ángel Gil has paid more attention to Jorge Mendes in a matter of transfers (Joao Félix, Cunha or Felipe) than the Argentine coach. And it was precisely with the departure in January of Mendes’ ‘reinforcements’ that Atlético has triggered his performance.

Andrea Berta, along with Griezmann and Miguel Ángel Gil Marín. EFE

And then there are classic names of sports directors who work discreetly and brilliantly living away from the spotlight. People like Braulio from Osasuna, who has just seen his team in the Cup final, or Roberto Olabe, who has installed Real Sociedad in the aristocracy of Spanish football. It is fair to remember another who is no longer here and took Villarreal very far in Europe: José María Llaneza. The architect together with Fernando Roig of the imposing structure of the Castellón club.

For all this, this summer it will not only be necessary to look at the pitch to find out about the great transactions of Spanish and European football. The offices begin to attract attention, confirming something that has been a reality for a long time: football has ceased to be a game to become a business.


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