When Sevilla signed Lucas Ocampos in the summer of 2019, they thought they were welcoming an exciting new winger for their squad. Little did they know that they were also landing a solid replacement goalkeeper.
In the club’s crucial midnight kick-off with Eibar in June, the Argentina international had already scored the only goal of the game, before goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik was forced off with an injury late on.
Having already made all their substitutions, Ocampos was forced to go in goal – and ended up becoming the first player to score and make a save in a top-five European league game since 2017, winning his side three vital points.
His last-minute stop from Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic, up for a stoppage-time set-piece, was later described on Sevilla’s website as “a script that couldn’t be written”, yet Ocampos’ heroics felt somewhat inevitable – such as his 2019-20 has played out.
He was brought in from Marseille for €15 million after being scouted by Sevilla’s director of football Monchi – a man known for his eye for talent. Ocampos had managed four goals and seven assists in 2018-19, playing from the left wing for the French club.
Nevertheless, Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui decided he’d be better off working from the right – a decision that proved a masterstroke. His partnership with Jesus Navas – now playing as a right-back – flourished immediately, and the winger ended 2019 with more goal involvements than any other team-mate.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, either – Ocampos was given his international debut in October against Germany, coming off the bench to score a late equaliser.
His form continued into the New Year, as he became the first Sevilla player to score in five consecutive matches since 2011, concluding with a goal against eternal rivals Real Betis in La Liga’s curtain-raiser post-lockdown.
He finished the 2019-20 campaign with 17 league goals and assists combined, and as the club’s top goalscorer and best performer.
As a key reason for Sevilla’s inclusion in next season’s Champions League, he’s ready to flaunt his talent at the highest possible level.
Article by Jared Tinslay