Since the beginning of football, scouts have been a vital part of a football teams success. In the days when transfer fees were a lot smaller discovering young, local starlets ahead of your rivals were crucial to ensure you built a strong and a viable business model. However, in the modern game where we see transfers like Neymar’s record-breaking £200 million move to PSG and astronomical wages given to players these days, you barely see youngsters breaking through into top teams like the famous West Ham Academy which churned out stars like Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand & Joe Cole has raised discussions whether scouts are still an integral part in today’s game.
First, let’s distinguish between the two different types of scouts. Firstly, the talent scout or ‘player scout’ – can be either part of a football club or with an agency. This type of scout regularly attends many different games with the main focusing being trying to spot hidden gems and unknown players on other teams. The most common job for this type of scouts is to evaluate young footballers and recommend them to join a club. It is even noted that scouts approach the players or parents to try and secure their services. One example of a talent scout is Chris Nathaniel, football agent of NVA Agency, who in the hunt to discover hidden gems has widened his search to find talent in Ghana. Scouts can be very unpopular with clubs especially smaller clubs, as their primary job is to whisk away promising young players to smaller clubs for minimal or even no compensation or transfer fee.
The other type of scout is the tactical scout. This type of scout is almost exclusively employed by a club to watch games of opposition to figure out their style of play, strengths and weaknesses to beat them in an upcoming game. A famous example of this type of scout is Former Chelsea & Tottenham Manager Andre Villas-Boas, who was a tactical scout for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. With millions riding of matches these days clubs leave nothing to chance, which has resulted in scouts becoming even more prominent in modern football.
Scouting is now more important than ever in football, with the globalisation of the game and the vast financial rewards at stake from results, prize money, tv revenue, sponsorship and lastly, player sales.