“Am I going too fast for you sugar? Watch my lips close. Where would he go?”
Kathie drank some wine. She looked at Hawk the way sparrows are supposed to look at tree snakes. It was a look of fearful fascination
“I don’t know”
“She don’t know,” Hawk said to me. “You do take up with some winners, babe”
“What the hell are you going to do Hawk, keep eliminating the places in the world he wouldn’t go until there’s only one place left?”
“You got a better idea, babe?”
“No, where would he be least likely to go, Kathie?”
“I cannot say.”
“Think a little, would he go to Russia?”
“No, no. No Communist country.”
Hawk made a gesture of triumph with his open palms turned up.
“See, babe, eliminate half the world just like that.”
In the above section from Robert B. Parker’s The Judas Goat, Spenser and Hawk are trying to get Kathie to tell them the location of a Neo-Nazi terrorist who wants to bomb the Montreal Olympics (it was published in 1978, if you haven’t read it yet that’s on you). What we’re trying to do has slightly lower stakes, but like Hawk we have eliminated a huge number of possibilities.
Over the past couple of weeks Axel Schuster has given us a number of hints about his targets for a designated player, who will be an attacking midfielder. Here is what we know.
- There are three targets. We will call them player A, Player B, and Player C
- Two of the three players are South American
- Player A plays for a very big club in Europe
- Player B is from a big South American country
- Player C younger than players A and B
- Player C is from a small South American country and once helped a mediocre team to an unexpected second place finish
- None of the players wears #10 on their jersey
- The cost of acquiring any of the players would necessitate making them a designated player.
Thanks to reports from Portugal and Schuster’s own coy question answering we can be fairly sure that player A is Benfica’s Chiquinho (plays for a big club) and that player B is Porto’s Otavio (from a big South American country). Player C remains a mystery. Until now! You see, I figured there were only so many young players from small South American countries, who helped a mediocre team to a surprise second place finish, don’t wear #10 on their jersey, who are younger than Otavio and Chiquinho, and who’s cost would necessitate making them a DP. So I looked into it and found I was right. I am pretty sure that there are only two players in the entire world who meet all of these criteria and one of them fits the criteria a hell of a lot better than the other.
First I looked through the standings of South American leagues that are not Brazil and Argentina over the last three years. I don’t know where you draw the line between big countries and small countries in South America but I know for sure that Argentina and Brazil are not small. I looked for teams that finished second after long periods of not winning any major trophies. When I found those I looked over their squads for players who matched the other clues we have been given about player C. Then I did a sweep of recent call ups to the senior and U23 squads of the small South American countries because, while the player may be from that country originally, they aren’t necessarily still playing there. I think it’s pretty unlikely that a player who would cost so much you have to make him a DP would not have a recent call up to either the senior or U23 team of a small South American nation.
There were some players who came quite close to meeting all the criteria but just fell short. River Plate’s Nicolas De La Cruz and Jorge Carrascal, Genoa’s Kevin Agudelo, and Atletico Nacional’s Juan Pablo Ramirez all meet every criteria that we have been given except for playing on a team that made an unexpected second place finish. There are only two players I have been able to find who meet every criteria. These players are (drumroll please)
#1 Jaminton Campaz
Campaz is widely considered the best Colombian prospect at the moment. He plays mostly on the wing but can also play as a #10, #8, or even as a wing back. He plays for Deportes Tolima, who may be stretching it a bit as a weak team, as they have had some strong finishes in recent years but have not won a trophy in quite some time. Deportes Tolima finished second in 2020 with Campaz getting 5 goals and 4 assists. Campaz wears #8.
#2 Leonardo Fernandez
I’m like 90% sure it’s him. In 2019 Fernandez helped Fénix to second place in the Uruguayan Apertura. He was transferred to Tigres where he as struggled to get into the first team on a regular basis, despite some very impressive production in the little time he has gotten, and has spent most of the last two seasons on loan. Recent reports have him looking for a move away as he does not fit the style of Tigres’ manager. It just makes sense for everyone involved. You’ll get a more in depth report on Fernandez if he actually signs but his G+A/90 has been incredibly impressive everywhere he has gone so I think he would be a good signing. Tigres are said to be after $10,000,000 for the player but that really isn’t all that different from what the Whitecaps have offered for Chiquinho or Otavio, or how much they paid for Lucas Cavallini last winter. Fernandez wears #18 for Tigres.
Of course I could be wrong, I’m by no means an expert on South American football, I may have missed a player. But Fernandez and Campaz were the only players I could find who did not contradict any of the clues we have been given. Also Axel Schuster has mentioned that two new players have come on their radar for consideration, so maybe this was all for nothing. It was fun though.