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The common link between the rise of Lille and the fall of Monaco

The common link between the rise of Lille and the fall of Monaco

There are rumours afoot that Monaco are keen to bring back a Portuguese individual that goes by the name Luis Campos. 

The majority will be forgiven for not knowing much - or anything - about Campos. Having had a fairly modest managerial career at the likes of Varzim and Gil Vicente, he never made it onto the continental stage as a head coach.

However, a move upstairs proved a masterstroke for Campos, his move to Real Madrid as a scout paving way for his appointment as Monaco sporting director in 2013.

At that point, Monaco had just finished top of Ligue 2, earning them promotion to France's top flight. As such, he had quite the task to help deliver the incredible success that those at the top of the club's hierarchy expected.

Ultimately, in the first season he was at the club, Monaco secured an exceptional 2nd place finish, accumulating 80 points and sitting just 9 points behind PSG. Not something you could give a huge deal of credit to Campos for, some may say, especially considering he had only just arrived at the club that season.

However, Campos oversaw the recruitment of some of the names that went on to be key figures, a few just for that season and many for several years in the future too. The likes of ex-Porto striker Radamel Falcao arrived at the club, alongside Jeremy Toulalan, Sergio Romero and Anthony Martial.

However, perhaps his biggest impact came from exploiting the area that he knew best - Portuguese football. Indeed, in addition to bringing in James Rodriguez and Fabinho from Porto and Rio Ave respectively, with the help of superagent Jorge Mendes, Campos and Monaco also signed up Portugal legends João Moutinho and Ricardo Carvalho, both of whom also had a big impact at the club.

The next season, he again helped oversee some impressive transfers, signing Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva from Benfica (again with the help of Jorge Mendes), as well as current Chelsea and Milan midfielder Bakayoko. Monaco also, in addition to Bernardo, exploited the Portuguese market further, signing Wallace from Braga and again loaning in Fabinho for an additional season from Rio Ave.

Perhaps the addition with the biggest impact, though, was the appointment of Portuguese manager Leonardo Jardim at the helm. While Monaco only finished 3rd that season - I say 'only', but of course it's a terrific league position for a side playing in Ligue 2 just two seasons earlier - they also reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, knocked out by Juventus.

Jardim's side again finished 3rd the following season, qualifying for the Champions League as a result, and again Campos oversaw outstanding recruitment, a huge focus on bringing in his compatriots evident once more. The likes of Fabio Coentrão, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and Rony Lopes arrived at the club, while a keen eye for talent elsewhere was also demonstrated, Thomas Lemar and El Sharaaway also snapped up.

And this continued positive recruitment of generally young, talented players that didn't cost a fortune eventually paid off, with a squad assembled that was capable of toppling PSG, a feat few would have anticipated.

That season, a lot of the Portuguese arrivals actually left the country, Helder and Cavaleiro heading to Wolverhampton as Jorge Mendes started a new project. However, both Bernardo Silva and João Moutinho were instrumental to the Ligue 1 triumph, as was Fabinho who joined from Portuguese side Rio Ave.

Several other non-Portuguese players that Campos was responsible for recruiting also played a significant role in delivering the title success, the likes of Bakayoko, Mendy, Lemar and Sidibe all playing their part in the triumph.

They even reached the semi-final of the Champions League that season, only getting knocked out by Juventus.

At the end of that campaign, Campos left, and last season moved to fellow Ligue 1 side Lille. 

The impact of losing their director of football was difficult to predict, as was just how important he was to the side.  

Perhaps feeling the his work at Monaco was done and the fact that the club were set for a season of selling, he decided to jump ship before things inevitably turned sour. The likes of Mbappe, Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva and Mendy left that summer, an accumulation of significant losses, and it was someone else's turn to replace them.

Monaco ultimately finished 2nd that season, a very respectable position, although far from comfortable, sitting just 3 points above 4th place and a Europa League place come the end of the campaign.

However, to say things weren't going very well for Campos at his new club  would be an understatement. In what was a season to forget, Lille finished just 17th in the table, one place and one point above the drop zone.

There was again clear evidence of his involvement in transfer dealings though, the likes of Portuguese duo Xeka and Edgar Ié arriving at the club from Braga and Belenenses respectively, while Nicolas Pepe also arrived that transfer window.

But, as is often the case, to feel the true effects of a change at a football club, time is needed, and it's only this season that the impact of Luis Campos is really being felt. 

While his old club Monaco languish deep in relegation trouble, selling João Moutinho in the summer to show a shift away from Portuguese recruitment, Lille are flying high, soaring up to 2nd in Ligue 1, only behind PSG.

His mark on the transfer policy can clearly be seen, with the likes of Portuguese stars Rafael Leão, Jose Fonte and Rui Fonte all arriving at the club this window, the first two having a significant impact at the club, with Leão scoring 4 in his last 5 league games and Jose Fonte even made club captain despite only arriving a matter of months ago.

Xeka also returned to the club from his loan - and he's also been a key figure in the side.

It is no wonder therefore that fortunes have changed so dramatically in just 2 seasons - but with Monaco going back to what they know best about recruiting Portuguese players - with internationals Gelson Martins and Adrien Silva moving joining the club to join Rony Lopes and Leonardo Jardim - they may start to get their act together.

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