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Advanced Team Fundamentals II – System 🆚 System

Recruiting Process: Criteria to Select the Right Players

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Haaland is on a presentation in Manchester City as a result of good scouting work

Getting it right when it comes to signing a player is very easy if you have a large amount of human resources (to control the evolution of many players in many countries) and economic resources (so that the price of the chosen player is not a problem). Elite teams usually get it right when they sign players as proven as Casemiro, Mané, Lewandowski, Antony, Dybala, Haaland or Nuno Mendes.

In this article, though, we are not going to focus on this segment, but on the rest of the clubs, which we will divide into two categories. On the one hand, the clubs that compete in the first division and second division leagues, that do not have access to international competitions and on the other hand, the professional or semi-professional clubs that do not compete in the highest national categories.

Most professional clubs do not belong to the elite (the select group of those who compete in international competitions every year). We are talking about approximately 75% of the first and second division clubs. They are often historic clubs, located in large cities, with a notable social mass and whose main objective is to maintain their positions in the highest tiers. These clubs usually have tight technical structures, relatively small scouting departments and budget constraints when it comes to signing players.

From our point of view, these are the clubs where it is most difficult to carry out scouting processes. In the first place, because it is necessary to have talented players to compete in the highest categories. Secondly, because if any of those who belong to the club, manage to perform at a high level, they will go to a bigger club. Finally, because they do not have access to the players who are performing the best in the highest categories (because those players will also go to the elite clubs). In other words, these clubs have to identify players who are one step below the current level of performance or category and make a bet based on the performance that they are expected to have in a very short period of time – one or two years.

This is where selection criteria should come into play. Each club should determine performance indicators (including technical, tactical, physical, social skills and abilities, etc.) for each position based on their style and game model. These indicators should have two levels of evaluation. At the first level, metrics should be built and used from the algorithmic combination of data offered by specialized companies. This is, Big Data.

“EACH CLUB SHOULD DETERMINE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR EACH POSITION BASED ON THEIR STYLE AND GAME MODEL. THESE INDICATORS SHOULD HAVE TWO LEVELS OF EVALUATION: BIG DATA & SCOUTS CAPABLE OF INTERPRETING THE PLAYER’S PERFORMANCE BASED ON THE PARAMETERIZED INDICATORS AND ADDING OTHER QUALITATIVE ELEMENTS”

After this first filter, there should be scouts capable of interpreting the player’s performance based on the parameterized indicators and adding other qualitative elements (related to the player’s social, emotional, volitional, etc. dimensions). In other words, the data is very useful to supply a large scouting department, as long as a club uses it by creating its own algorithm and only as part of a first phase of the selection. From our point of view, this combined methodology is the correct alternative to the habit of asking or listening to what such and such player agent tells to the club.

Finally, there are the professional or semi-professional clubs that do not compete in the highest national categories. Now, we are talking about small and medium-sized clubs, with much lower budgets, very few human resources for technical structures and that constitute a wide network of entities that combine their socio-sporting function (for a small city, a town or a neighbourhood) with the logical ambition of competing at their best, whatever the category in which their first team participates. Although it is very difficult to generalize, we believe that this type of club should bet on very young players in the selection. Firstly, because the level required is not that high, they should be able to incorporate children into their lower categories who would be trained at the club and who could access their first teams regularly. And secondly, because they should play a role as a launch pad for the young promises in their area towards the elite teams.

In the player selection processes of these clubs, they should not worry so much about evaluating performance indicators, and however, it should be more important to detect the player’s potential of talent. That is, those abilities that are impossible or very difficult to acquire through training, such as: the percentage of availability to relate to the ball, the type of feet supports with which the player moves, their speed in processing information and/or in decision-making, their psychological profile, etc. This group of clubs should select the players for which they are going to work for and not the players who are going to help them achieve maximum performance.

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