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Chelsea tab technical director who built AS Monaco as Emenalo replacement — report

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Luis Campos of AS Monaco during First Training Session of Monaco at La Turbie on June 25, 2016 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Agence Nice Presse/Icon Sport)
Luis Campos of AS Monaco during First Training Session of Monaco at La Turbie on June 25, 2016 in Monaco, Monaco
Photo by Agence Nice Presse/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Man Of Impeccable Sources Whom He Never Questions Duncan Castles has taken a brief break from furthering the Conte out (and Emery out at PSG) narratives to drop this juicy little nugget in The Times: “Chelsea have approached Luis Campos, the man regarded as European football’s most accomplished talent scout, to replace Michael Emenalo as the club’s technical director”.

That brief report from a couple days ago is expanded upon in an article published on Arab News today, and while it doesn’t contain any new pertinent information, it does serve as further added weight to Castles’ sourcing, since it links back to an extensive and suddenly relevant interview he conducted earlier this year with the former AS Monaco director. Campos may not necessarily hold the Premier League in the highest regard, questioning whether English teams would understand him culturally and accept his team-building philosophy, but did not rule out an eventual switch.

“It may happen, but I think most English clubs do not know how to recruit for an issue that I almost think is cultural as almost everyone makes the same mistake. English clubs really, really like top attacking players, yet to a large extent make them play alongside medium-quality defences. And that, in my opinion, explains their relative lack of success in European competitions despite them spending exorbitant sums in recent years.

“Successfully building a good team project always involves the ability of players to relate and ‘match’ to each other. In the Premier League there is a big difference between great talents, and the medium quality of support for the same offensive talent. Most teams lack great defenders, and defensive midfielders.

“So I do not know if they would understand me culturally. The great forwards who are already in the Premier League would be even better if they had the support of great full backs, for example. And how many great full backs are there in England? Right now, maybe just Tottenham’s.”

-Luis Campos; source: Yahoo Sport

Campos, who also has plenty of links to his compatriot, José Mourinho from their days together at Real Madrid — he was José’s chief scout at the time — isn’t actually at Monaco anymore. He left in the summer of 2016 after three years of building the side that wowed fans and neutrals alike last season, creating a young, highly talented, and extremely coveted core of players, including Chelsea new arrival Tiemoué Bakayoko. The likes of Mbappe, Martial, Mendy, Lemar, Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, among others, are all credited to Campos, who’s currently employed by Lille OSC in France but is said to be “interested in the opportunity” thanks in part to a poor working relationship with the current head coach of Lille, Marcelo Bielsa (stemming from five specific transfer disagreements over the summer, as reported by The French Transfer Oracle, Mohamed Bouhafsi on RMC). Campos does have strong ties with Lille’s new owner, Gerard Lopez however.

This conflict with Bielsa, couple with previous stories of conflict at Monaco, combined with Campos’s strong ideas about team-building do temper the excitement of this rumor a little — Chelsea do not lack for head-strong characters in leadership positions already, from the owner on down through the current head coach, so would they really want somebody to come in and constantly challenge them? — but Campos being linked with Chelsea is far more promising than the previous idle speculation about ex-players replacing Emenalo. We all love Zola, Drogba, and Lampard, but they possess very little, if any actual qualifications for the role of a technical director. Granted, Emenalo’s CV was a bit threadbare as well initially, but he still had multiple years of experience in scouting and identifying talent, both in his work at the Tucson Soccer Academy in Arizona and as a scout at Chelsea for several years before being promoted to technical director in 2011.

Campos modeled his Monaco system on the FC Porto system, and those are two teams who generally have lower expectations than Abramovich’s Chelsea. Implementing similar methods and goals of player recruitment at Stamford Bridge may not be the most frictionless way forward — not necessarily in terms of turning healthy profits on player sales, but actually giving significant minutes to “unproven” players — but there are few people working in the game today who are more highly regarded than Luis Campos, so if he is indeed interested, this could be a great opportunity for Chelsea not just for the present but for the future as well.