Arena builders

Here we go: why Luis Campos – one of football’s greatest team builders – could be in high demand this summer

In the world of football, it’s all about winning and making money. It is generally an impossible mission for the front offices and it is a balance that only a few rare clubs around the world are able to maintain, knowing that it is necessary to juggle between acquisition of talents, trophies, ambitions and often disproportionate investments, especially in the European top. leagues.

French side Lille OSC might be the only real team to tick all those boxes. In an analysis conducted by the International Center for Sports Studies (CIES) on the net expenditure of transfer transactions concluded over the last 10 seasons, the 2020-21 Ligue 1 champions occupy the first place with a transfer balance positive of €349 million over the last decade. They are one of the few nine-figure teams in the green, while a good chunk of all the teams we know to be giants in Europe are in the red with deficits.

It’s a masterpiece of shrewd transfers and behind the scenes, there’s only one man capable of pulling off this sporting miracle: Luis Campos. We have plenty of free agents on the market available this summer – from Kylian Mbappé to Paulo Dybala – but due to his successful CV, the now available Campos could be one of the most sought after names for top clubs. around Europe.

His name is not the most talked about in the media but he is definitely appreciated and valued in the world of football. If you ask any agent about the 57-year-old Portuguese transfer chief and the answer is always pretty much the same: “He’s a genius.” Nothing else to say. Just a few weeks ago, former FC Bayern chairman and legend Karl-Heinze Rummenigge called him “the best in the world at his job” as Lille’s results speak for themselves. “What he does everywhere he goes is just amazing,” Rummenigge added.

After working at Real Madrid with José Mourinho as a scout, Campos moved to Ligue 1 in 2013 to become the technical director who built this fantastic Monegasque team that reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and endured at Paris Saint-Germain en route to a title of champion of France.

Need names? Campos discovered Mbappé and trusted him as a young star in Monaco, then sold him to PSG after extending the contract with Monaco only because of his relationship with Campos – otherwise he was destined to leave as a free agent. These details are so important for the balance of the best clubs. He also helped launch the careers of Fabinho, Anthony Martial, Bernardo Silva before returning them at incredible rates to top European clubs. He managed to win and make a profit for the club, which is an incredibly difficult task that requires excellent balance.

Campos himself was the Deus Ex machine these excellent results obtained by Lille. Last season, the French club were crowned Ligue 1 champions against a gigantic PSG team and did so by relying on low-cost intuitions (like Burak Yilmaz, the undisputed star) but also on talents to which Campos had confidence. These days pretty much every club in the market wants Jonathan David and Sven Botman, and the French club will be making money from them this summer. And let’s not forget Renato Sanches, who joined Lille at a complicated time, at the crossroads of his career, but was supported by Campos. These are three assets potentially worth €150m in total for the summer.

You can also check out Lille’s recent history to understand just how successful Campos have been in this draft as they prepare for a round of 16 clash against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League (on Paramount+). Take the example of Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, acquired by Lille for €21m then sold to Napoli for €70m, then his replacement Yilmaz enabled Lille to win the Ligue 1 title with an incredible season. And then there’s rising Canadian star David, who will likely cost upwards of €40-50m this summer. A virtuous project that bears fruit on the pitch and in the balance sheet of financial fair play – and a Ligue 1 title won in the dynastic era of Paris Saint-Germain, which we cannot forget because what Campos has done with Christophe Galtier as manager was just amazing.

And what happens now? After leaving the Lille project in December 2020, the transfer guru took a step back to recharge his batteries before embarking on a new chapter in his career. What is magical about Campos’ work is that there is still an everlasting impact in the clubs he left behind, as his work brings results for years to come. It’s also worth pointing out that behind the scenes in 2021, Campos was top of the list to become Real Madrid’s director of football with Massimiliano Allegri as the new manager, but the deal with the Italian manager subsequently fell apart. We know football has endless avenues and who knows where the next step will be for Luis Campos. Of course, the results are on his side. The field says so, and so do the numbers. Genius will be ready for another miracle and it’s only a matter of time.