Just when everything seemed to be going exceptionally well between Boca Juniors and its new goalkeeper Esteban Andrada, injuries got in the way. After the newcomer got his jaw broken by a reckless charge from a certain Dedé in the game against Cruzeiro in the context of the CONMEBOL Libertadores quarterfinals, a true dilemma within the squad managed by the Barros Schelotto twins: that of replacing Andrada while he completes his two-month recovery process. Evidently, in need of a backup for the questioned Agustín Rossi in the Libertadores, the club immediately spotted a replacement across the Andes: Bolivian international Carlos Lampe. Probably one of the few deals with an expiry date on it from the beginning, Lampe will be loaned by Chilean side Huachipato for three months. In this recruitment analysis, we will analyse the curious, unprecedented loan of the Bolivian to the Xeneize.
The 31-year-old will be a Boca Juniors player until December, being only able to participate in the Copa Libertadores, according to CONMEBOL’s rules for the Libertadores. Articles 57 and 58 express that, respectively, a goalkeeper can be replaced at any instance of the competition due to injury once bureaucracy does its job verifying it, and that the replaced goalkeeper will not be available during that edition again once recovered.
Today, Boca will be hosting Palmeiras again in the first leg of the CONMEBOL Libertadores semi-final – both clubs shared Group H some months ago – and it is Agustín Rossi who shall fulfil the immense task of covering Esteban Andrada while he recovers. On the bench, expectant, will be our hero from the plateau. This not only confirms that no-one is daring enough to try a player who has been at the club for literally days in a continental semi-final, but it also makes us wonder if Guillermo and Gustavo would play the Bolivian in a hypothetical final considering how high they rate Rossi, in spite of popular opinion.
If Lampe’s chance to shine is to come, it will not arrive in this semi-final. Minimally, he should first ask the centre-backs for their names (I bet he hasn’t even had time to do so yet). Let’s all just mentally picture the scene of something as rare as a top-level Bolivian goalkeeper making his debut in a continental final. Isn’t South American football priceless?!
Although the arrival of a new signing is always a source of excitement and expectation, a three-month loan exclusively for the Libertadores is not what one would expect for a national team goalie like Lampe. Nevertheless, there are a couple of aspects his signing helps make evident:
- The youth system vicious circle continues: clubs in Argentina are especially known for being bottomless factories of young talents Europe buys, improves and sells for millions while we are left waiting for our players to come back someday on some pitiful one-year contract after a decade in Europe. In recent years, however, Argentine football’s generalised decadence deteriorated youth systems because of negligent/corrupt management by the ones in charge. This added to some toxic short-termism leads our clubs to practically give our players away as soon as they get noticed in Europe. Those few millions are usually destined to payments for players like Lampe, a process far easier and shorter than turning a young boy into a professional footballer. Academies are there, but they are just ignored because it is easier to buy an already developed, average product, instead of risking some millions and increment the odds of producing one that is worth hundreds of millions. This way, managers barely look down to the youth ranks, which leads to little feedback between managers, something that ends up harming the trust factor in the club’s academy, which ends in the kids never getting a chance because managers prefer to buy. The Schelotto twins are especially known for this during their stint at the club.
- Boca Juniors cement their position as the wealthiest, most powerful institution: this is no surprise, to be honest. The most popular club is also the best run, something that can only translate into huge amounts of income which reflects during the transfer window. Hence, Boca Juniors can afford a regular international in the middle of a competition. From the outside, this manoeuvre was perceived as a proof of power, something largely discouraging for the already low standard of the childishly run Argentine football.
- Football still holds a debt with tolerance and respect: even though Latin America is an immensely diverse region, racism and xenophobia are everyday issues in certain places. As you might have guessed already, Argentina is on that list. After Lampe’s signing was announced, the stage was set for the xenophobes (belonging to many clubs, especially River Plate) to do their thing. Boca Juniors has a particular link to many countries around the world, especially neighbouring nations Bolivia and Paraguay. This was already a subject of hate in the past, and Boca’s fanbase can often be referred to as “a bunch of Bolivians and Paraguayans” by your regular xenophobe. Consequently, Lampe’s message assuring “Boca are the half [of the country] plus one AND eleven million Bolivians from now on” almost made the hate-meter explode. What was worse is how a specific media outlet portrayed the reactions on social media from these people, referring to the series of hate and disrespect towards Bolivian people as “a feast on social media”. Even though we tend to regard these comments as harmless and not really intended, it is time to leave them buried in the past. Boca Juniors are the club of the people, all people, not only Argentinians – something some will only envy forever. With similar words, the club published its response, something that the football environment seemed to echo immediately.
Now onto the man himself. “Who is Carlos Lampe?”, you might ask. Even though it might not matter in three months’ time when this article becomes irrelevant and obsolete, that question makes sense as of today. It turns out Carlos has a truly interesting career – one that even transcends the limits of football. Originally a basketball player, he eventually joined Bolivian side Universitario. Even though he insisted on playing as a striker at first, his place on the pitch ended up being under the three posts – tip of the hat to whoever made that decision because he was not wrong!
Despite Internet’s lack of statistics from his time in Bolivia, we can confirm that Carlos Lampe has made more than twenty-five CONMEBOL competitions appearances combining all his Bolivian clubs, according to Transfermarkt. His time in Bolivia was rather average, we should say. It is in Chile, however, where his career would take-off.
In 2016, he moves to Chile to play for Huachipato. There, he would finally get regular appearances. Lampe’s level improved to the point he became his national team’s first choice goalkeeper, featuring regularly on CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers and eventually taking part in the Copa América Centenario on U.S. soil during 2017. However obvious it might sound, he is now in the best form he has ever been. Last semester, most fans picked the Bolivian as the best goalkeeper in the Chilean league. Lampe’s most impressive mark is not-conceding for 463 minutes, a bit more than five consecutive matches. Let’s hope he at least gets to make a save or two for the fans who already seem to like him as if he has been here for years.
Will he get his unique chance in one of the biggest clubs in the world on one of the most important events in world football? We still don’t know, we really hope so. It is hard to not love a man who claims to be a lifelong supporter and that encourages the population of his entire country to do so as well. “I am not here on vacation, I will compete for the spot”, he declared, referring to his chances of becoming Boca’s goalkeeper in only a matter of days. Again, we hope he succeeds eventually.
Even if he never plays a single minute, Carlos Lampe is already liked by the Boca people. Besides, as we discussed in this article, the Bolivian has indirectly forced us to reflect on the state of our football, something which is already very valuable. We wish him the best of luck and a pleasant stay during these three months!