The name of Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo would ring not too many bells but the simple mention of Monchi – as this man is more commonly known – will see it resonate loudly through the football community.
The former Sevilla transfer guru moved to Rome in 2017 when he signed a four-year contract with AS Roma where he took over as director of football with the Serie A giants.
Having created a scouting network of well over 700 scouts around the globe Monchi reaped rewards from his remarkable setup which produced the likes of Jesus Navas, Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Ramos and discovered a solid number of profitable bargain deals Sevilla would later go on to cash in on, such as Ivan Rakitic, Dani Alves, Julio Baptista, Frederic Kanoute or Carlos Bacca among many others.
AS Roma hoped the arrival of Monchi would introduce a notable change in their own transfer machinery and hopefully help Giallorossi get in a fight with financially powerful Serie A rivals on the notion of having an important ace up their sleeve.
The early signs were not promising with Aleksandar Kolarov as a Manchester City veteran somewhat surprisingly establishing himself as the most valuable addition to the squad despite the fact Roman club invested close to €100 on no less than 12 new players last summer.
At the same time, with some of the key first-team players leaving the club for pastures greener, most notably Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger and Leandro Paredes, the Giallorossi were skeptical whether Monchi’s approach would yield any kind of reward in his first year at the club.
It took some nail-biting anticipation before Monchi’s philosophy, in combination with a tactical shift introduced from head coach Eusebio Di Francesco, threw a €13.4 million signing from Basaksehir – Cengiz Under – under the spotlight.
Under, Under Scrutiny
Much to Monchi’s acknowledgment, the 20-year-old Turkish winger Cengiz Under joined AS Roma as the least known of all Giallorossi signings and the likes of Rick Karsdorp, Patrik Schick, Maxime Gonalons, Juan Jesus and even Federico Fazio are enough to attest it.
Even though early signs were not there to confirm it, wrapping up Cengiz Under under the nose of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City represented an important coup for Giallorossi.
“He is a player for the present and the future.”, Monchi said last summer.
Under would score his first-ever AS Roma goal in a pre-season debut against – cue the symbolism – Tottenham Hotspur but since then struggled to gain footing at his new club. Having marked only 410 minutes in Serie A until January, Cengiz Under was patiently waiting for his big break.
Under’s patience and commitment to adapt to a new language and culture were rewarded with Di Francesco’s decision to steer away from his 4-3-3 formation in favour of a 4-3-2-1 system. AS Roma manager clearly wanted to get more out of his attack-oriented pack of players and ease the scoring burden off of the back of Edin Dzeko, which proved to be a spot-on choice.
Eusebio’s visionary tactical shift allowed Under to spread his wings and display full range of his talents.
— Scoutium (@scoutium) February 17, 2018
The young Turk opened his AS Roma account in his very first game in the new system, grabbing a winning goal in a 1-0 triumph over Verona. He did not wait long – hardly at all – to add more to his tally, as he went on to add a brace and an assist for Edin Dzeko in the 5-2 thrashing of Benvento.
Once again, in his third successive match, Under continued to impress by breaking the deadlock in a 2-0 win over Udinese last Saturday. It took only three games – and four goals from them – for the Italian football audience to fall in love with Cengiz Under’s unique style of play.
Already lauded as the next Mohamed Salah, the Turkish winger’s dazzling runs down the right wing are indeed comparable to the trademark runs from the Egyptian King. Under would similarly cut inside and play all sorts of tricks to his markers and rivalling goalkeepers with a deadly left foot, which stands as his biggest asset and quality.
“When the manager and I started looking for a left-footer who could play on the right, we thought of his right away.”, Monchi said last summer.
Equally impressed by his qualities and potential is Eusebio Di Francesco himself who – despite some doubts over Under’s ability to reproduce high-level performances at the brightest Champions League stage – rewarded the 20-year-old with a starting place against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Under repaid him with another stellar performance, continuing to do what he does best.
— SerieAchannel (@SerieAchannel) February 21, 2018
During the 71 minutes he spent on the pitch in his first-ever Champions League appearance, Cengizu Under not even once looked out of place. Quite the contrary, the Turk displayed confidence in movement, ball control and positioning which all resulted in a goal on his maiden UCL performance.
With Dzeko on the ball just outside the box, Cengiz Under used his quick feet to get behind the Shakhtar Donetsk’s back line and calmly slot the ball Bosnian striker passed through to continue his rise to prominence.
Cengiz Under will be expected to maintain the high level of performances on Sunday, when AS Roma play host to AC Milan in one of the highest anticipated Serie A matches next weekend.
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