How the pandemic affects the state of soccer scouting

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Since the inception of the sport, the presence of scouts in any amateur or professional clubs has been an integral part of the club’s success. Even though the 11 players on the pitch make the difference through winning games and winning trophies; it is without question that without a proper scout team, a team cannot fully succeed. Scouts do all the behind-the-scenes work by discovering rising talents before anyone else does from the rest of the world. Their knowledge of the game, on seeing potential, talent, and skill, is what makes them such a valuable asset to any soccer club. No example holds truer than Carles Rexach, the scout who discovered arguably, football’s greatest of all time, Lionel Messi. Having been diagnosed with a growth disease, many doubted if Messi could lead a club to any form of success, but Rexach saw different. He saw the natural gift, the natural, generational talent, and he took a chance by bringing him into the famous Blaugrana  And as they say, the rest is history. Despite Messi’s incredible personal resume of trophies and individual accolades, it is undeniable that without Rexach, the Argentinian may have had a different fate from today’s reality.

 

The recent pandemic has made the job of the traditional scout a lot more difficult. Scouts need to be able to travel the world, go to small matches, even in the most obscure places, in order to discover new talents. With the pandemic halting cross-country travel and leaving everyone on lockdown, a traditional scout cannot do these tasks. Moreover, it is the personal interaction as well with the player and his/her family that makes the difference to where a player will go. Scouts not only discover the talent, but they also need to be able to persuade the player into signing with the respective team. Traditional scouts prefer this personal interaction because they can also see player mentality, how they respond to pressure from fans, from big games, even if it’s at the amateur or professional level. The pandemic rids all of this from the traditional scout with the slowdown in soccer operations worldwide. With the standstill in the season, it brings a sense of fear into the value that a scout brings to a club and their financial security in the given situation. 

 

However, there seems to be a silver lining given the modern advancements in technology. With the improved data and technology, scouts are no longer limited to the traditional methods. More and more professional clubs are utilizing advanced data and technology to analyze a player’s games over seasons. One of these popular platforms that over 800 clubs around the world use, is that of Wyscout. Wyscout provides teams with game footage of players all around the world. With this type of technology, scouts can analyze metrics, game footage, player tendencies, all from a more convenient and cost-efficient way. Being able to analyze games from a player across seasons is certainly beneficial in coming up with a conclusive decision quicker, and more efficiently. Instead of scouts doing the traditional traveling, examining a player, and then making a decision, this advanced method cuts the process in half. Seeing the player live and how they perform physically merely becomes the confirmation of their initial decision after examining their game footage. In the words of Burnley Technical Director, Mike Rigg, We would never make a decision to sign a player by just watching video clips. But video analysis is part of a really important process of filtering the vast amount of players that we see and trying to get to a point where we can then go out and basically confirm,”  With soccer operations slowly returning worldwide, there is an opportunity for the traditional scouts to reach even greater heights with these new and accessible skills. 

 

That is why even in the realm of football scouting, we see the importance of having a decent technological foundation for this field. Here in ETA Sports, the usage of technology and analytics has been something we have utilized to connect soccer communities all over the world. With the advent of the internet age, reaching other people through social media platforms has also been helpful in overcoming that geographical separation before these agents and promising young athletes. Led by CEO Joe Etta, ETA Sports uses technology to connect prospects with brands & clubs even in smaller communities. The ETA Global Initiative helps smaller communities develop their academies by providing resources and serving as a contract negotiator for discovering new talents. So trust in ETA Sports, because with our drive, expertise, and innovative technology, we can help you find the next brightest soccer star.