Joining Milan on a dry loan, Lucas Ocampos has the potential to be much more than a mere back up.
The mode of arrival, a dry loan, and the club of provenience, Genoa, have cast an obscure aura around Lucas Ocampos’ arrival in Milan. In the eyes of many fans, the 22 year-old is nothing but a cover up option to suffice for the injuries and inconsistencies of the team’s attacking midfield. However, in his brief career, Ocampos has shown off some substantial skills, suggesting that he has the potential to be an asset for the rossoneri. Let’s find out how he can contribute to Milan’s cause, as well as how Milan can provide him with an opportunity to grow as a footballer.
Meet Lucas Ocampos:
Date of birth: 11.07.1994 (22 years old)
Position: Winger/Attacking-midfielder (Left)
Club: AC Milan
Height: 1.87 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)
International caps: Argentina U-15 (4 apps, 2 goals), Argentina U-17 (8 apps, 3 goals)
Club caps: River Plate (40 apps, 7 goals), AS Monaco (96 apps, 15 goals), Olympique Marseille (39 apps, 6 goals), Genoa (14 apps, 3 goals)
Born in Quilmes, on the Argentinian coast, Lucas Ocampos has never, until now, travelled too far away from the sea: River Plate, Monaco, OM and Genoa being his teams. Debuting for River at the age of 17, Ocampos immediately became a key player for Los Milionarios, contributing to the club’s success in the Primera Divisiòn, with seven goals – not bad for a rookie.
The youngster’s exploits in Argentina caught the eye of none other than Claudio Ranieri, who brought him to AS Monaco for 3 million euros in the summer of 2012. At the time, the team took part in France’s Ligue 2 and had just embarked upon the task of returning to the heights of French football. The ambitious project was successfully funded and organised, generating a good mix of experienced players and young talents, such as Ocampos. Once more, the kid’s performances resulted important to the team’s successes: the desired promotion to the Ligue 1 was obtained.
The player’s adaptation to France’s top tier was also smooth, with Ocampos playing 39 games and scoring 7 goals in all competitions and Monaco reaching a much-admired second place. Halfway through the following season, Ocampos was signed by Olympique Marseille on a loan with option to buy. After a convincing 6 months for les Olympiens, met by the rising interest of some of Europe’s elite, the club decided to make the deal permanent, investing as much as 11 million euros on the Argentinian. Ocampos’ rise continued, or so it seemed.
In fact, after a disappointing second season for OM, during which the youngster did not regularly feature in the starting eleven, it was time for another move, which was seen by many as a downgrade for a player once deemed to be the new Cristiano Ronaldo. Let it be said that comparisons of this kind are always out of place and create unnecessary pressures and expectations that often end up suffocating arising talents.
Nevertheless, Ocampos brushed the criticism off his shoulders and joined Genoa on a loan, perhaps conscious of the beneficial effects that such a move has brought to so many players. In fact, Genoa has often provided the perfect context for one to revitalize their seemingly descending career. To name a good example, Diego Perotti joined il Grifone from the ‘heights’ of Sevilla and, two years on, has become one of Roma’s star players. Merit goes to the individual, but much is due to the Genoa cure, as it has occasionally been referred to.
Before joining Milan in the last few days of the January window, Ocampos collected a commendable 3 Serie A goals and showed off some moments of brilliance, inevitably paralleled by some flaws. A deeper look into these strengths and weaknesses might help us to understand whether he’ll be able to conclusively fulfil his potential and make an impact in Milan, miles away from his beloved sea shore.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
A predominantly attacking player, Ocampos can comfortably play in all forward positions, although his said preference is the left flank. On said wing, the Argentinian’s style of play is, as said, primarily routed towards the offensive phase: he enjoys dribbling, counter-attacks and cutting in on his right foot to try for goal.
Having focused for his whole career on this kind of role, Ocampos possesses a very niche set of skills: he is quick, physically strong and displays applause-worthy technical abilities. Typically, Ocampos’ outbursts of pace on the wing can result devastating. This is demonstrated by his 77% rate of success in attempted one-on-ones, meaning that more often than not he is able to go past his man. Confident in his dribbling skills, Ocampos continuously attempts to beat his direct opponent, as indicated by his 110 dribbling attempts this season.
Despite this tendency, Ocampos is not a selfish player. Although some stats could indicate otherwise (no assists for Genoa), others prove that Lucas will often attempt to serve his teammates – whether they end up scoring after is down to them. In fact, according to legaseriea.it, the winger created as much as 25 goal-scoring opportunities during his time in Liguria, not bad when compared to Suso’s 28.
Another strength, which is context-led, is that Ocampos will not have to face an adaptation phase to the Serie A, given his brief but surely instructive experience with Genoa. Moreover, seeing the player’s overwhelmingly quick acclimatisation to French football, he should be able to repeat himself in Italy.
Thus, onto the weaknesses – there are some significant ones. As said, Ocampos’ attacking prowess has obliged him to develop a very specific set of characteristics. Obviously, other aspects of the game have been neglected in favour of this development. Needless to say, Ocampos’ defensive abilities are very limited: he seldom tracks back and doesn’t exactly stand out as prone to sacrifice.
In addition to this, Ocampos’ decision-making and vision are also somewhat limited. Often, he’ll manage to carry the ball till the opposition’s six-yard box, with his afore-mentioned progressions, only to then make the wrong passing decision. In general, and this is blatant when you watch him play a full game, he could be a much deadlier player if he had that last-pass card up his sleeve.
How he can fit into Milan:
The brief history of his career and the description of his characteristics may have outlined a player who is yet to find consistency on the pitch, a youngster of great talent but of little impact, perhaps. To some extent, this is true. Nonetheless, his arrival at Milan might give birth to a mutually beneficial experience. Ocampos could finally undergo a definitive breakthrough, and could also be a treat for the rossoneri.
With Niang’s departure and Bonaventura’s injury, Ocampos, along with Gerard Deulofeu, will be in charge of Milan’s left flank. A very different player from the Frenchman and from Jack di Cuori, Ocampos won’t be able to fulfil their exact same role, this must be acknowledged. In fact, whilst both Bonaventura and Niang were often commended for their outstanding defensive efforts, Ocampos will hardly be able to reach similar work-rate levels. Despite this, he will add a much-needed offensive verve to Milan’s attacking department, which is currently struggling to bag goals. If he manages to capitalise on his impressive one-on-one abilities, Ocampos could provide the creativity needed to break through opposition lines, rendering Milan’s recently sterile ball possession more worthwhile.
With regards to the benefits that Milan can bring to the player, they are mostly related to Vincenzo Montella. Having highlighted Ocampos’ poor decision-making as one of his flaws, it’s easy to see how Montella could be a positive influence. Known for his ball-possession oriented style of play, and his meticulousness to ensure that every pass is perfect, Montella is the right man to help out Ocampos. Under the aeroplanino’s influence, the Argentinian could finally turn into the decisive player that the rossoneri need, and that he needs to become in order to complete his growth process.