Ajax Amsterdam have stunned Real Madrid in the Champions League (the same Real Madrid that Everton’s own Nikola Vlasic defeated twice this season) and now everyone in the world wants to get their hands on their young players. Frenkie de Jong is already on his way to Barcelona, Matthijs de Ligt is rumored for a massive move away, as are Nicolas Tagliafico, Hakim Ziyech, and Donny van de Beek.
Last week Everton were rumoured to be sniffing around van de Beek, an attacking midfielder who has come into his own since the departure of their former captain Davy Klaassen. If that is not enough to give Everton fans PTSD than I don’t know what is.
The last time an up-and-coming club stormed Europe, it was AS Monaco and the likes of Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko (lol Chelsea), Benjamin Mendy, and others moved on within just a couple of years. Many of the clubs that paid massive fees for these players are very happy with their investments but none of it was cheap.
As all the world’s big clubs circle like vultures, we certainly seem to have enough money laying around to try to get in for one of them, but why should we?
Instead, I suggest raiding another team. Remember Monaco? That incredible squad was built by a man named Luis Campo. Campo now works for Lille, also in Ligue One. He took over on July 1, 2017, and while the first season was a struggle, he now has them at second behind only Paris St. Germain in the table.
Among his signings is Thiago Mendes, a defensive midfielder who has the third most minutes on the team this year. Lille paid 10m for him last season and since then his market value has skyrocketed:
The estimation of 25m would be cheaper than any of the Ajax players mentioned above. Yes he is a little older, may not have the upside of some of the Ajax guys, but overall I think he is better value.
On the younger side, Jonathan Ikone is a 20 year old attacking midfielder that Campos bought for just 5m from Paris St. Germain last summer. According to Transfermarkt, his value has doubled so far this season as he has become a regular starter for Lille. Snapping up a player like this before he fully developed would be great transfer market value.
Ikone and Mendes are fine players, but the real gem for Campos so far at Lille has been Nicolas Pepe, a right winger who has 17 goals an 8 assists this season. He is currently valued by Transfermarkt at 45m and is just 23. He is an absolute star in the making and has already been linked to Bayern Munich. Just check out this statistical radar from Understat:
Everton may not sign any of these players, they are just examples. The point is that Campos, the genius behind the Monaco machine, is recreating his masterpiece at Lille, and next year LOSC will be on full display in the UEFA Champions League. If we are going to raid a young up and coming side, why not go ahead and look at this one instead of one in Ajax that already has everyone’s attention? This Lille roster is still likely a couple of years from really hitting their stride, and we ought to get better deals there than we would for the darlings who just massacred the three time UCL champions.