Scouting for a Professional Club
In this blog, we will discuss scouting for the first team of a professional club. Scouting at the senior level is different from scouting for a youth department. We will discuss the scouting for the youth department in a different chapter. But first, we will focus on scouting for the first team of a professional club.
Every club in the world does scouting in some kind of way. Most professional clubs have internal scouting departments or at least one scout. In these clubs, most scouting happens internally. Some clubs rely more on external scouting either because they don’t have the budget for this or because they prefer it this way. In these clubs, the coaching staff and the sporting director himself will scout players but rely on agents and external scouts to select potential new players.
The primary responsibility of a scout is to identify players who fit into the team and contributes to the club’s success.
1. Scouting department internally
If we take the average club in Europe, then all clubs have an internal scouting department that consists of 2-3 scouts and one head of scouting. In these clubs, the process of scouting is usually that the scouts will identify players to scout and then perform a first scouting report of the player. The first scouting report is mainly done from behind a desk. Where the scout will watch 2-3 games and will watch individual video clips of the player through a platform like WyScout.
Every club has its own framework for a scouting report, but it usually consists of certain qualities a player must have to fit in in the playing style of a club.
If a player comes positively out of the first scouting report, then the scout will go and watch a live match together with the head of scouting. Not everything can be seen on video, since you’re reliant on the quality of the filming. So live scouting can show different things than just video. If also this is positive, then the head of scouting will present the player to the Sports Director and/or coach of the first team. From there the Sports Director will take over if they decide to pursue to sign the player.
Most scouting departments will create a shadow team. This means that for every position the scouting department identifies 1,2 and a maximum of 3 players in a position, that can replace the existing player in this position. In this way, a replacement is found quickly after a player is left or even before the player left.
2. Scouting externally
Scouting externally happens when a club makes the decision to not have a scouting department. A possible reason for this can be that they don’t have the budget. But it could also have other reasons, for example, to keep the organization small.
When scouting externally, it’s important to notice that the final decision still lies with the Sports Director and/or the Coach. This means that one of them or both still do their own scouting. But it’s not as comprehensive as when the internal scouting makes a report and then presents it to the Sporting Director or Coach. They rely on the external scout to present them with potential new players.
The external scout who is independent, will watch matches for them in trade for tickets and/or compensation. Some clubs have a big network of external scouts, that they use whenever they want a new player.
The last one is that agents will present players to the club that can be good signings. Agents will build up a relationship with Sports Directors and Coaches and will have contact about what type of players they need. The agent will then try to present players (preferably from his own agency) to the club. But it’s also possible that an agent presents a player from another agency if he thinks it’s a right fit and if he is allowed by the other agent to present his player to the club. It happens that agencies work together because one agency maybe doesn’t have the right connections within a club or country.
That’s why you often see several players of the same agency at smaller clubs. Because they have a good relationship and probably had success in the past.
These are the three types of scouting for the senior squad of a professional team. All of them with one goal in mind and that is to contribute to the success of the team. Something that’s important for all three types of scouts is networking. The better your network is the more information you can gather on a player.