Jose Mourinho marvels at his zeal: “I’ll call Monday – he’s in China, I’ll call Tuesday – he’s in Chile, I’ll call Thursday – he’s in France.” Indeed, PSG’s potential savior has been living in airplanes for years. In 2018, he even received a most frequent passenger statue from one of the airlines, stating that he has traveled 390,400 km with just his aircraft, which is equivalent to ten trips around the world. And yet his whole own system, for which clubs have been paying him a lot of money for years, assumes that he observes the players and only adds transfer details on the last straight, when various scouts employed by him will assess players’ potential. . a given player at least four points on a five-point scale. The 57-year-old is the best, so he only wants the best.
As a sports director, he built up the championship in Monaco to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and the championship Lille. Two teams that have spoiled PSG in their own backyard for the past ten years. He would dig up footballers like Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Anthony Martial, Nicolas Pepe, Rafael Leao from scratch, put them in the teams and then sell them for millions. He also introduced teenage Kylian Mbappe to senior football and made such friends with his family that Real Madrid now wanted to use him in negotiations with the French. But it was the Parisians who won the tug of war, showered Mbappe with gold and gave them all the privileges – including influencing the choice of coach, sports director and teammates on the pitch.
It is no coincidence that Mbappe signs a new contract, Leonardo – the former PSG sports director he did not like – leaves and Campos, a friend of the house, is replaced. But he can’t be blamed for getting the job for acquaintances. French journalists, who closely follow his career and the situation at PSG, believe the club needs him more than he needs the club. The Portuguese is in demand: if not Paris, then Madrid or London. And there aren’t many great sports directors, it’s easy to get cut. Especially when it comes to working for PSG, probably the toughest club in the world.
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Three years ago, he had already met Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of PSG. After the match PSG – Lille, where Campos was working at the time, they met in the banquet hall. The atmosphere was thick, the emotions after the game had not yet subsided. The Portuguese loudly complained about the judge’s decisions. – Who you are? Al-Khelaifi asked without irony. – And who are you? Campos reacted maliciously and found the PSG chairman a stubborn one. This confidence is to help him when he arrives in Paris.
If Campos then introduced himself, he would probably say that he is a football architect. He’s not an extremely humble man, so if a term describes his field well, he’ll use it, even if he seems haughty. However, he started as a coach and led average Portuguese teams of the first and second series. At the time, journalists called him “Campas”, which means “grave” in Portuguese, because he left other teams out of the competition. But there was one match that stood out for him. In 2003, he retired from Porto, led by Mourinho, who won 27 games in a row. As a coach, Gil Vicente beat him 2-0 and caught his eye. Everyone could laugh, but Mourinho was convinced that Campos knew football very well, so he involved him in developing his system for match analysis and training planning. Years later, when he was already working for Real Madrid, he told his bosses that there was a somewhat dusty coach in Portugal who had an excellent eye for players, so he would make a good scout. And so Campos, now that he knew he had to stay away from the coaches’ bench for his own good, returned to the carousel.
He only worked for Real for a year, as Monaco came to him and entrusted him with a much more important position of sports director. As befits an architect, Campos designed the team. Before he got there, Monaco wanted to catch up with PSG by spending a lot of money. Instead of bringing stars, he chose talented children. Bernardo Silva took Benfica out of the reserves and fans asked who this chucherko was. Fabinho pulled out of Rio Ave, having spotted him at the Fluminense juniors a few years earlier. And it’s in a losing game. Martial was spotted in Olympique Lyonnais’ reserves before the locals could recognize his talent. And Mbappe was love at first sight. Campos saw something in him that he had previously only seen in Cristiano Ronaldo, who he looked at during training at Real. A superhuman need to win and an unusual talent. Kylian’s parents were frustrated when their son didn’t get a chance and looked for another club. It was he who asked them for a moment of patience, pushed Mbappé into the reserves and after a while fired. Monaco grew from season to season. It sold James Rodriguez for 75 million euros and Campos brought in Tiemoue Bakayoko for 8 million euros. Fans initially complained until Bakayoko turned out to be another superstar and later walked away for 40 million. This is how Campos built up Monaco, which overtook PSG in the competition and reached the semi-finals in the Champions League.
Luis Campos follows the careers of more than 2,000 people. soccer players
He later worked the same way in Lille, although he got off to a bad start because Marcelo Bielsa put him in the shade. The club president insisted that the Argentinian would lead the team, although Campos warned against this. Gerard Lopez trusted Bielsa and placed part of the team leader’s team in the hands. – Only after some time did he admit that it was a mistake – revealed the Portuguese in an interview. And when he got rid of Bielsy, he started working the same way as Monaco. He imported Rafael Leao for free, which he later sold to Milan for almost 30 million. Nicolas Pepe was invited to the club after a gap season in Angers and two years later he sold him to Arsenal for 80 million. Victor Osimhen was injured and one successful season at Charleroi, but Campos took a risk – he bought him for 22.5 million euros. And he won – a year later Napoli paid 75 million for him. It was similar to Renato Sanches, who left Bayern Munich as a wasted talent, and in Lille he was reborn and gained in value. Mike Magnana raised PSG for a million euros, and years later Lille made almost 15 million. And again – the club not only promoted the stars and made money from them, but also won the French Championship in 2021.
Campos knows almost everything about football. He is direct, methodical, manic and authoritarian. – It’s my choice. When I was a coach, everyone liked me, but I didn’t get any results. I was too undemanding. Today I expect as much from others as I do from myself – “L’Equipe” admittedly. Over the years, he developed his own scouting system and set up a consultancy so that every club could turn to him for advice, whether to bring in a right-back or to plan the entire transfer strategy. Today, it openly uses Celta Vigo, among other things. But most clubs are doing it quietly – for example, Real Madrid, with which Campos has long been permanently linked, admitted in the face of growing rumors that he is already working with him, but with many, which has been good for both sides.
Camposa employs nearly 40 scouts, allowing you to follow the careers of 2,134 players from around the world. There were so many in 2021 in a special application developed by the Portuguese, where scouts throw talented players to, evaluate, describe in detail and put into the system. Every two and a half months, the scouts change the observation area. Campos only flies when seven scouts give the same football player at least 4 out of 5 stars. The Portuguese cannot imagine working on the transfer of a player he has not seen live. He personally makes rankings on a certain position and within the right budget. This means that, for example, in the right-hand position there are 40 players in the system. When the chairman of a smaller club comes to him and says he has 8 million euros to spend, Campos shows him the best three players in the range of 0-3 million euros, three for 3-6 million and three for 6-8 million. You can choose the desired color. It is comparable to big clubs willing to spend tens of millions.
Jose Mourinho praises him, and Kylian Mbappé supports him too
He is well spoken of: Christophe Galtier, Lille’s coach, whom he took on after Bielsa’s departure and who led the team to the championship, especially appreciates his honesty and understanding. – He was a trainer, so he knows well what problems you have to deal with. He is very direct, he does not like to waste time. It works so that you feel safe with it. He is not pushy, he knows the ball from many levels, but he is as fond of listening as he is sharing knowledge. And he’s great at estimating players’ potential – he said in “L’Equipe”. Mourinho adds: – He is versatile, intelligent and hardworking. He thinks about football all the time. He understands that the team is not just a collection of players, but a puzzle to be solved. One element must fit in with the rest, says Roma’s coach.
The last two sentences sound like a recipe for trouble for PSG which has stars but no team ready to win the Champions League. Campos will not have to find players with perspective so much as those who are willing to win and match characterologically. In Paris, you don’t need more talented legs, but strong heads and strong backbones. You have to recruit wisely, not make a transfer list from the Golden Ball ranking. The need for discipline, better interpersonal relationships. Campos is a man who travels forever. In interviews he talks enthusiastically about the discipline of Asians and the strength of the collective that he experienced in South America. It also takes a coach to replace Mauricio Pochettino and he finds himself in a world that was unforgiving for Ancetti, Blanc, Emery and Tuchel. Campos is unlikely to tap the stars, but he will have to find the right players at the second level. Who knows, says it won’t break, change its rules and even dictate its terms to Qatar. With the support of Kylian Mbappe, he can do more.