The Two Ciro Immobiles

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He was almost right. Everybody thinks they know who Ciro Immobile is. It is just that not everybody thinks the same thing.

The conversation, as Monchi remembers it, was “very open, very honest, very mature.” Five months earlier, in July 2015, he had brokered the deal to bring Immobile to Sevilla from Borussia Dortmund. As Sevilla’s sporting director, Monchi had been looking for a third striker, one “with a different profile” from the two the club currently employed: the rangy Fernando Llorente and the explosive, hard-running Kevin Gameiro.

Immobile — who describes his own gifts as “strength, tenacity and cunning” — fit the bill. Monchi, renowned as among the shrewdest pilots of the transfer market, spotted the potential for a deal. Immobile’s service were no longer needed at Dortmund; Sevilla could obtain him on an initial loan, and later, and permanently, at a bargain price if he met certain performance clauses.

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Instead, the striker would go down as one of Monchi’s rare missteps. He did not score his first goal for the club until November. He made only a handful of appearances. And then, early in January, he requested a meeting with Monchi and Unai Emery, the club’s coach at the time, to discuss his future.

Immobile explained that he felt he needed a change of scenery; he admitted that he was not performing as he should. “He was worried about the European Championship,” Monchi said of the 2016 tournament then looming just over the horizon. “He wanted to be in the Italy squad, and he knew that to do that he had to be playing. And he was not playing enough here.” Sevilla acquiesced, and allowed him to join Torino on loan.

“There are two reason transfers go wrong,” Monchi said. “One is that the player does not find the confidence they need at their new club, or in a new league. That is especially important for strikers. And the second is that the style of play of the team does not suit them. I think both applied to Ciro.” To him, it was just one of those things. He knows that, sometimes, deals just do not work out. He and Sevilla moved on.

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