Luis Campos: The Brains Behind More than Just Lille’s Revival

At the business end of the Ligue 1 season, Lille are on the cusp of beating Paris Saint-Germain to the title.

If they get over the line, it will be Les Douges’ first league triumph since the 2010-11 season.

While the players on the field and the manager, Christophe Galtier, deserve credit for making such an achievement a possibility, the club’s former director of football, Luis Campos, has played an integral part in making the dream a reality.

However, his triumphs stretch far beyond his role in reinventing Lille. So, let’s look at some of the players that Campos has backed during his career.

A Shrewd Negotiator

Campos, who began his managerial career back in 1992, transitioned to scouting and player recruitment in 2012.

It wasn’t until 2017, however, that the 56-year-old signed with Lille. Although his tenure with Les Douges would end in December 2020, following a change of ownership, the Portuguese director of football left his mark on the club.

His off-field dealings helped form a team that are now 1/5 in online betting with Paddy Power, as of May 12th, to win Ligue 1 at the end of the 2020-21 season.

In the 2017-18 summer transfer window, Lille signed Nicolas Pepe for £9.45 million, according to Transfermarkt. Two years later, Les Douges famously sold the Ivorian to Arsenal for a club-record £72 million.

This is one of many profitable moves orchestrated by Campos. In 2018, the club bought Rafael Leao from Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer, and he moved to AC Milan for the following season in a £25.3-million deal.

Perhaps the crowning moment of Campos’ time at Lille was selling Victor Osimhen – who Lille signed for £19 million in 2019 – to Napoli for just over £60 million at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

As a replacement, the 56-year-old brought in Burak Yilmaz on a free transfer. Since putting pen to paper with Les Douges, the Turkish striker has scored 15 goals and set up another five in his first 26 top-flight appearances for Lille.

Giving World-Class Players a Platform

Campos’ time at Lille showcases why he is one of football’s most in-demand football directors. However, he first made a name for himself long before moving to the three-time Ligue 1 champions.

The Esposende-born figure spent one year with Real Madrid between 2012 and 2013. During that time, the Spanish club signed Fabinho on loan from Rio Ave. After making the switch to Monaco in 2013, he took the Brazilian with him, and he is now one of the world’s best deep-lying midfielders.

It’s no secret that Campos’ Monaco side featured some of the most exciting players in world football during the mid-2010s.

The football director played a vital role in promoting Kylian Mbappe through the ranks, while he also signed the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar. Campos laid the foundations for Monaco to win the league in 2016-17, and now he appears to have done the same for Lille.

Where Does Campos Go from Here?

Campos’ history with Monaco and Lille shows that he likes a challenge and wants to upset football’s modern-day hierarchy.

The 56-year-old will likely have no shortage of suitors now that he’s out of a job, but there are no indications that he’s on the cusp of moving anywhere in the near future.

One project that could appeal to Campos is Manchester United, whose current vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, is leaving the Red Devils at the end of 2021.