Man of mystery to mercato conductor: Moncada’s rise to being Milan’s mastermind

By Oliver Fisher -

With the sacking of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara as the technical and sporting director, AC Milan have decided to change direction. One of the men at the steering wheel is Geoffrey Moncada, who is somewhat of an international man of mystery.

It seems that Moncada has moved from being the head of the scouting area to a de-facto sporting director role alongside the official holder of the title Antonio D’Ottavio, while CEO Giorgio Furlani will have a good chunk of overlap with Maldini’s old role as chief negotiator and the man with the final say.

Moncada’s name is one that is very much respected in the footballing world, to the extent that our interview with Milan’s minority shareholder Riccardo Silva he labelled him one of the club’s ‘best kept secrets’ as well as being among the ‘top scouts in the world’. But who exactly is he?

Moncada was born in 1986 in France making him 37 years old, which puts him younger than a lot of parallel executives at a top club with such new-found power.

He joined Milan at the beginning of the Elliott Management era back in 2018 and even back then it was regarded as a big scalp for the Rossoneri thanks to his impressive body of work, which we will come on to.

Moncada’s career as a scout began at a young age and came about through his video analysis of players. In fact, he was the one who watched a 12-year-old Kylian Mbappé and recommended him to Monaco.

The Moncada mystery

Part of the mystique surrounding Moncada is that he is absent on social media with the exception of LinkedIn, where he introduces himself as a ‘video analyst’ and reveals some details about his career.

As per his profile, he worked from 2006 to 2012 as a freelance scout, and at the age of 19 he was sending around a CV of players to agents around the world.

His mentor was Marc Westerloppe and it was alongside him that Moncada noticed a young Mbappe at Bondy. Monaco took a chance on him, he exploded onto the scene and then joined Paris Saint-Germain for €180m which remains a world record sale for a French club.

Then, Monaco decided to hire Moncada who climbed the ranks and became the chief scout at just 29 years old. He built a network that spanned Portugal, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia and South America.

Move to Milan

Back in December 2018, Milan managed to convince him to try a new experience in Italy as the chief scout, with Elliott Management having seized control of the club after Yonghong Li’s reckless ownership.

They aimed to build a project around finding young players with high potential but with reasonable costs and then constructing a future core, with said players rising in value.

The record since his instalment speaks for itself, as under Moncada’s watch – in addition to that of Maldini and Massara – Milan signed Mike Maignan, Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu and Theo Hernandez in the rearguard.

Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer did become the midfield pairing of the future (prior to the former’s departure) with Rade Krunic showing himself to be a reliable reserve.

The likes of Alexis Saelemaekers and Brahim Diaz even gave more in contribution than what the costs of their respective deals suggested they would.

Then of course there is Rafael Leao, who has grown from being a raw talent when arriving from Lille to become last season’s Serie A MVP and without doubt the most valuable asset in the squad at present.

Tonali was sold for €70m to Newcastle, but his club-record sale is if anything proof that the vision is working efficiently given the necessity for player turnover, however painful it might be.

The methodology

So how exactly does talent identification work and why is Moncada regarded as one of the best in the business despite others in his field having similar resources?

The Frenchman works together with his network of collaborators and looks not only at statistics but also sports performance and adaptability to the coach’s game.

He often gathers as many as 10 different reports on each player showing the level of detail required, and from that he can gain a broader picture regarding the technical identikit of the player, who will usually be between 16 and 20 years old.

The character and personality traits of said talents are also examined too, so there is much more than just numbers on a screen. Every step is taken to try ensure that each signing can be put in the position to succeed.

A good example of his work can be found in Pierre Kalulu’s work. He was bought for just €1.29m from Lyon’s youth team in the summer of 2020 and it was because of Moncada’s intuition.

He arrived as a relative unknown having not made a senior appearance for the Ligue 1 side, and with Stefano Pioli’s integration plus some opportunities taken he established himself as a big part of the future core.

He was Fikayo Tomori’s partner for pretty much the entirety of the second half of the Scudetto-winning campaign in which only two goals were conceded in the final 11 league games with nine clean sheets.

Now, Kalulu is a France U21 international with a first-team call-up surely not far away, and he is valued at €35m according to Transfermarkt.

Finding value

Kalulu is far from the only example to point to. While Maldini has been given a lot of credit for the signing of Theo Hernandez given he met him in Ibiza, Moncada revealed that it was actually largely his intuition.

Speaking on the ‘Prolongation’ podcast, the chief scout said: “He’s a player we’ve known since Atletico Madrid’s U17s/U19s. It was a job that lasted 4-5 years. And the opportunity to sign him came when he was a little in trouble at Real Madrid, who had just signed Ferland Mendy.

“We didn’t have much competition when we signed him. Paolo Maldini did a great job, he spoke with the Real Madrid management and with Theo.”

Another operation that has Moncada’s imprint is the Tomori deal. He was out of favour at Chelsea but the ex-Monaco man saw value and the opportunity to reinvent the defensive line, signing him initially on loan for €600k and then permanently for €31.6m. Now, he is worth double.

Moncada was also watching Leao from a young age too, as he told the podcast: “He was exceptional in the academy, in the Youth League he played against Juve at a very high level.

“He can still improve physically, he can score even more because he can score very easy goals or other top-class goals. He can still score in the future with his head, he has the physique.”

Moncada was one of the figures who made it clear that Gianluigi Donnarumma could be replaced in the summer of 2020, despite the PR disaster that it seemed to be at the time.

He pushed for Mike Maignan to replace Donnarumma, and revealed in an interview with L’Equipe that character was key in his assessment.

“When I talk to Mike he has no pressure, he just plays. It could be our mentality. In Italy, if a young player makes a mistake, they immediately say he’s not ready and he’ll stay on the bench for a while. Not in France.”

The most recent positive example might well be Thiaw, who arrived for €8.6m from Schalke 04 and like Kalulu was a relative unknown, but now looks like he will be the starting centre-back this season barring surprises.

The future

Moncada gave an interesting interview with L’Equipe earlier this year in which he highlighted why he likes focusing so much on players from France as well as South America.

As outlined, he has a background in France having been credited with identifying some of the Monaco players who were a big part of their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League a few years ago.

The Rossoneri have bet a lot on players from the French league with the likes of Leao, Maignan, Kalulu and Yacine Adli acquired from there in the past few summers, and Milan continue to be linked with the latest up and coming names in Ligue 1.

One of the comments that stood out was as follows: “I don’t know if French players are more ready than others, but in general they are not afraid. A Spaniard, an Italian or a German is afraid of failing.”

Therefore, with Moncada now having an even bigger say on the recruitment moving forward we can expect the French influence to grow, or perhaps for the club to continue down the line of recruiting foreign talent rather than dredging other clubs in Italy.

He also stated that he does not feel like there is great value in the Brazilian market compared to the hype that some of the talents in that league receive, which is why links like those with Vitor Roque were and remain destined to be short-lived.

Everything we saw play out in the summer mirrored what has been suggested above.

Milan returned to a strategy of ‘buying in the dip’ when it comes to well-known profiles like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic who both signed from Chelsea.

Marco Sportiello and Luka Romero came on frees, with the former being an upgrade in his role and the latter being a low-risk bet on a potential gem.

They scouted the European market for talent with a high ceiling that was available in cost-advantageous deals such as Tijjani Reijnders, Noah Okafor, Samuel Chukwueze and Yunus Musah.

This will be an increasingly data and algorithm-driven AC Milan, especially after Maldini’s departure. Moncada will lean on the help of Zelus Analytics and then sift through the profiles after the multitude of reports that arrive on his desk from his team.

There is a young core in place but Tonali’s sale proves just how quick things move in football. Moncada now has more power than ever, and will be tasked with protecting and building on the platform he helped create.

Tags AC Milan Geoffrey Moncada


  1. Moncada is only 37? Wow.
    Great job by Elliott hiring him.
    Hopefully, now with more power he can get even more talents before they explode and become too expensive.
    In today’s crazy football where players are way overvalued, best way is to grow your own champions.
    The big money transfers rarely return on investment when it comes to performance and results.
    Big money transfer comes with way too much pressure, expectations and publicity and very few players can live up to it or deal with it. Just look at the CDK situation, and he wasn’t even that expensive compared to EPL prices.
    That 20-30 mil area gives the best return on investment.

      1. agree. Italian always ask more to Italian. They value their fellows higher than others. that’s why (many) Italian player afraid to fail, afraid to lose, afraid to dissapoint their families, and at the end they afraid to play and improve. I’m not Italian but i’m a fans of Italian NT. I’m sure that many Italian talents out there.

    1. One of the comments that stood out was as follows: “I don’t know if French players are more ready than others, but in general they are not afraid. A Spaniard, an Italian or a German is afraid of failing.”

      the key is changing the mindset. not because of French, Portuguese, Argentinian players are better.

    2. Nicely put………. Agree 100 percent. 1 Italian player on this team? lol Milan will be the french connection before you know it will have 70 percent of the french national team lol…. Last I look Italy won the last Euro and has 4 titles

    1. Why are you always mentioning Hauge like he was a bad transfer?
      He was bought for like 4mil and sold for 3 times that 8 months later. How is that a bad transfer?
      He was a LW playing behind Rebic who at the time was balling and Leao. There was no room for him in the squad.
      Plus his performances were pretty good, too. 24 games, 870 minutes, 5 goals, 1 assist as a 3rd choice LW.
      Some players are bought just to be flipped for profit.

      1. I believe Hauge could have performed even better if Pioli had given him time. He was a natural goal-scorer with the killer instinct for goals. And I agree, his stats were OK and we made profit too.

        1. It is hard to give hauge chance at that time. Rebic are big investment ( swap with andre silva that cost 40m euro ) while leao have big talent. Well at least hauge give profit to ACM at that time

      2. i never said that the list is list of Moncada’s bad works. I mentioned Enzo too, isn’t the scouting of Enzo a good work by Moncada? He would have been huge signing if Cardinale wasn’t too slow in giving the budget.

        1. For the record, I mentioned Hauge because he is the only player publicly acknowledged by Moncada as his finding. So it’s weird that he is missing from the list, they can at least say the deal bring us profit.

    2. You forget caicedo,kolo muani,. Both are ignored because the previous board only want experience player like renato sanchez and origi

          1. Besides, the previous board sign mostly young player (including CDK the biggest flop). So how does that make the previous board “only want experienced players”?

          2. Dude , previous board only want young player with european experience. Thats why they choose cdk because he already play on CL and NT . If not previous board then what ? Old board ? They rejected many young player that still raw ,dont have enough european experience

        1. Besides, how does Caicedo relate to injury-prone Renato (I prayed that Maldini fail to sign him last summer)? Wasn’t it in different year? Isn’t Renato usually used when arguing about Enzo (I mentioned him in the list above)? Even though that argument is not accurate as Enzo sign the deal with Benfica one week before Cardinale gave the transfer budget.

  2. His most impressive move: Getting rid of CDK so quickly. The stress his presence caused cannot be qualified but it dragged the entire team down. Everyone felt personally responsible for his failing, even the other players. In the end, he is the only one to blame.

    1. CDK is also his most impressive mistake, scouting CDK for years before eventually helping Maldini to negotiate over CDK’s arrival.

      1. The media is a joke, framing CDK as Maldini’s choice without listening to Moncada only to be revealed later that Moncada help the negotiation.

        When it comes to young players signed by Milan before this summer, Maldini and Moncada should share both the praise and the blame.

        1. This is what I don’t get. CDK always labelled a Maldini signing not one from Moncada. All the ones shining now listed as Moncada’s as if he didn’t also scout Fode smh

        2. I also didn’t want to comment on this very article just because of this nonsense that indirectly paints Maldini in a bad light. CDK is attached to Maldini and not Moncada for some absurd reason. It’s like where’s the article that showed all of Maldini’s great singings only 🤷‍♂️
          Even the out of the players they sign now, some WILL flop. It’s a numbers game. They had bad numbers last year though so two people out of the 5 got the boot. But those decisions were collective decisions

        3. So ,how about origi ? Did moncada scout him too ? Who recomended origi and advise give him 4m euro nett ? Team data already rejected and not recomended origi ( source : the athletic)

          1. An article on this site last year credited Moncada for building francophone squad (Origi was named in that article). Funny how media change their narrative.

          2. Nah, as Yelnats said, I also recalled Origi was a Moncada recommendation as he was really into Belgians at the time as they showed good value for money (that and the French league).
            I also can’t see Maldini looking for attacking players on his own. He even admitted himself that it’s not his cup of tea and that’s why he missed Boban’s company so much as he was the one who had a better eye for attackers.

          3. Here it is. Maldini on Zvone Boban: “Then there are football knowledge: if I know anything about players, he knows a lot. He is much better than me, I admit without any problem, at analysing a game and a player. He saw things I didn’t notice. And we complemented each other very well. He observed the midfielders and the attacking players more, I concentrated more on the defenders.”

  3. These board has been over praised by most of the fans nowadays. Yeah they did a great job in summer but it is too early to glorifying these board. Yes, I am a big fan of Maldini, and I don’t see why I have to hate him. I didn’t care he let $rumma, hakan, Kessie, or Romagnoli went for free in order to won scudetto. And it is more enjoyable posting hakan meme and triggered inter-fan that day than crying over players out for free. Maldini won many trophies with Milan as a player, and he won scudetto as a director. What he did is bigger than 3 wins in a row in the first league match. It is still long way for these board and I will remain skeptical, until I see my captain lift silverware. As a fan, I don’t really care about business model, as a fan I care more about boasting to Inter fan that Milan will get 2 stars before they do. I can not boast about how many profit do we make while other lift trophy.
    We are currently in the right track with these owner, hopefully it will be Berlusconi era 2.0 rather than Li’s banter era.

    1. So after shifting goalposts constantly from “they won’t spend any money” to “it’ll be a disaster” we’re now at “well they’ve done okay so far but they need to win the scudetto” 😆. Talk about entitled.

    2. Well, this article claimed Moncada support getting rid of $umma. Imo, getting rid of $umma even for free is a good thing considering we have Mike.

      1. The article says that Moncada said that Donnarumma can be replaced in the summer of 2020.
        At that time Gigio had a year left on his contract. So basically Moncada was pushing for Gigio to be sold according to this article.
        Donnarumma left for free in 2021 after Maldini was trying to resign him until the last game vs Atalanta.
        Losing top players for free is never ever a good thing. Milan could have gotten Maignan even if Gigio was sold for money and there would have been money left to strengthen the rest of the squad.
        How people still defend losing those players for nothing and don’t understand the damage it was done to the team with that is still beyond any logic
        Just because Milan managed to sign a better GK after Gigio left , doesn’t mean it’s a good thing he left for nothing

        1. I don’t care whether $rumma leave for free or being sold for money. Maldini, Moncada, or both, I will support them to get rid of $umma (as I said, EVEN FOR FREE). He is an outdated goalkeeper.

          1. Moncada definitely know $umma is outdated. $umma held Milan back as a team, hence why he is replacable. Other scouts know this too, hence why no club made an offer.

          2. It doesn’t matter if it’s outdated or not , it’s never a good thing to lose a high value asset for free.
            The 50,60 mil, what he was worth at the time would have allowed Milan to sign Maignan and or striker. That’s the thing you fail to understand. The money that was lost by him leaving for nothing its what is important here, not the player.
            From this article and from what happened, we can see that Moncada was pushing for Gigio to be sold, and Maldini was pushing to be resigned.

          3. Lol, I can’t believe someone is defending $umma. Losing $umma for free is a blessing. Don’t you remember they sign Maignan before $umma decide to leave Milan. The management decide to kick him, even Furlani and Gazidis was on board.

            $umma happen to have star like De Gea but both are outdated and should be kick from Milan/Man Utd who play modern football. If no club make an offer due their outdated style, let them leave for free is the right choice.

          4. And I applaud him for being dare enough to sell Tonali. He is a great player that I don’t want to lose but with 70m and good scouting, we ended up having Reijnders and others.

          5. You are too emotional that’s why you don’t want to understand what I’m saying. And it’s obvious that you are too emotional because you can’t even use the man’s name and you say irrational things like it was a blessing that he left for free.
            Donnarumma wasn’t kicked out. Maldini waited on Donnarumma until the end of the last game of that season for an answer. Remember that? Donnarumma didn’t stay because he wanted to leave not because Milan kicked him out. If he told Maldini at the end of the Atalanta game that he is staying Maldini would have resigned him. After Maldini didn’t get the answer he was looking for, he went and signed Maignan next day because they were worried of Roma snapping him, since Roma was after Maignan as well.
            And again I’m going to say. I don’t care about Donnarumma. I care about the money that was lost by him leaving for free because someone was trying to resign him until the last day.
            Outdated? At the time he was top 5, top 3 GK in the world with value of at least 50 mil.

          6. I am not being emotional, I have been saying over and over in the last 2 years that losing $umma for free is a BLESSING and I stand by my claim.

            If you talk about how bad it was to lose Kessie for free, I would agree. But if it is $umma, I firmly disagree. I am happy that we lost him for free, his playing style do not suit Pioli, he was holding Pioli back from implementing his style.

            “Maldini waited on Donnarumma until the end of the last game of that season for an answer”

            FALSE. At the end of the last game, $umma was told by Maldini that they already sign a replacement. $umma revealed in an interview that he was waiting for a contract talk at that time.

          7. My bad, $umma was told that Milan had signed replacement not after the game but before the game.


          8. You are emotional because you have too much hate for the kid.
            And you are wrong.
            Maldini asked Gigio if he is going to resign, and Gigio told him according to reports that He will do what Raiola tells him.
            And you keep talking about its a blessing to lose Donnarumma for free because you didn’t like his playing style, that didn’t fit Pioli system. That’s like being OK losing your house for nothing because you didn’t like the neighborhood, instead of selling it and using the money to buy a house in another neighborhood.
            The hate you have for Donnarumma is stopping you from using logic.
            Stop the hate. The kid didn’t do anything illegal or immoral.

          9. At the time with the quality of our squad Donnarumma was winning us points singlehandedly. He was worth about 10-14 points alone. And he helped us get into the UCL the next year which was critical for the young players growth

          10. Nobody want to make an offer to sign him, so to which club should we sell him? You are talking nonsense here.

            $umma was available for free transfer since January but he didn’t sign for P$G untill July and P$G ended up benching him for half a season. He was lacking suitor due to his outdated style and high salary demand.

            Rather then keeping him and having to pay for his high salary, it is better for the finance to sign Maignan and let $umma leave for free, that is why Furlani (the one who handle finance) is not afraid of losing $umma for free.

            As for house comparison, losing house for free could also be blessing in disguise. Who knows what will happen? What if keeping that house (because no one want to buy it) means you have to pay the tax/high maintenance cost and in turn not having enough money to invest at someting more important?

            As nobody make an offer to sign him from Milan, should Milan keep him and pay his high salary? That means losing the chance to sign Maignan, one of the key in 19th scudetto.

          11. @IKWYDLS

            He made great save but he held back our offense, we can’t play high line. He is the same as De Gea, saving points for Man Utd but was actually holding them back. They make wonder saves, getting hyped in the process but smart scout like Moncada know that they do it at the expense of the team.

          1. Yes no worries. I was comparing relative to the level of squad we had back then. He was saving alot of shots and thus saving points because our mid and defence were trash lol. He had incredible reflexes and stature. But Mike is a more modern goalkeeper. And better with what we have now and the tactics we’re playing.
            Getting Mike also saved us money in the long run even though we had to pay a transfer.
            Also I agree on the Kessie part, we should have made an economic effort and just given him what he asked for at the beginning (6m) or maybe a bit more as he was critical to our play but his agent got greedy and now he plays for a league in order to feed his family like Silva lol.

        2. But those guys betrayed us for money, at least we are strong and we will do good always because we are MILAN and we have the tool’s now, and we love maldini and all of our players because this is Milan and I’m sure maldini too love us maybe he will comeback❤🖤

  4. • $umma at Serie A 2020/2021
    Goal conceded per 90 min: 1.027
    Clean sheet ratio: 37.8%

    • Maignan at Serie A 2021/2022
    Goal conceded per 90 min: 0.656
    Clean sheet ratio: 53.1%

    If $umma saved us 10-14 points at that time, how many Maignan saved us during scudetto winning season?

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