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The Transfer Hunters: How Premier League Scouting Set-ups Compare | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A recruitment talent course at the FA in 2016 with, from left to right: Mervyn Day, Richard Allan, Steve Walsh and Tommy Johnson. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

London – Arsenal

Arsenal’s chief scout is one of the club’s longest-serving employees. Steve Rowley’s reputation was forged when he spotted an 11-year-old Tony Adams while scouting part-time. Rowley went full-time when George Graham was Arsenal manager, and was promoted to chief scout when Arsène Wenger arrived in 1996. He heads a global team and the scouting department has been influenced by the data analytics company StatDNA that Arsenal bought a few years ago with a nod to the Moneyball principles that had been successful in the US. Arsenal’s scouting is under scrutiny with last summer’s main arrivals – Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Pérez – all enduring difficult periods in their first Premier League campaigns. Amy Lawrence


Bournemouth’s recruitment structure is modestly sized by Premier League standards but the 10-strong team, headed by the first-team technical director, Richard Hughes, has evolved with the club, doubling in size over the last three years. Hughes, who had two spells at the club as a player, works closely with Jason Tindall and Eddie Howe but it is the Bournemouth manager who has the first and last say. There are detailed background checks on targets and an emphasis on players who have an appetite to improve. The club does not operate with a chief scout and Craig McKee, the recruitment coordinator, is considered the heartbeat of the operation. Andy Howe, Eddie’s nephew, leads the domestic division, with personnel designated to focus on foreign markets, including France, Germany and Spain. Other members of the team include the former Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton, who works as a senior consultant. Ben Fisher


Given the influence Tony Bloom, a mathematician by education, exerts over Brighton, it is hardly surprising the club’s recruitment policy leans heavily on data analysis. The head of recruitment, Paul Winstanley, headhunted from a role as head analyst at Derby County in August 2014 and appointed as player identification manager, has his office next to those of Chris Hughton and the chief executive, Paul Barber, and oversees a tight team of scouts with duties across the globe. There has been regular chopping and changing among the scouting department, with people such as Ewan Chester and Jamie Johnson departing, but the emphasis on player evaluation and background checks remains as stringent as ever. Their recruitment department is Premier League ready. Dominic Fifield


The club used to have a sporting director but did not continue with the position when Frank McParland left to join Rangers. Their scouting set-up is headed by Martin Hodge, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Everton goalkeeper, who is employed as head of recruitment. Apart from the academy scouting system, which has people in place to spot local talent at junior level, Hodge is in charge of identifying potential targets in conjunction with the manager, who first stipulates his requirements, and an extensive analysis department. The chairman, Mike Garlick, then oversees negotiations to complete deals. Paul Wilson


Chelsea’s recruitment structure has been streamlined since the days of Frank Arnesen’s scout-heavy approach, with the Dane’s 50-strong team reduced to around a dozen concentrating on specific regions, whether local or national, EU or non-EU. They are headed by the technical director, Michael Emenalo, who speaks with Antonio Conte on a daily basis, as well as to agents and intermediaries. The head of international scouting, Scott McLachlan, collates information and data on targets and potential signings, whether on performances or background checks, and is always available and regularly consulted. Only once a player is identified and agreement reached with the head coach does Emenalo approach the director Marina Granovskaia or owner, Roman Abramovich, to request a transfer, with Granovskaia in effect charged with securing the target. DF

Crystal Palace

While the managers have come and gone – four at the last count since Tim Coe arrived in February 2013 – the chief scout who began his career at Reading while still an undergraduate has been one of few constants at Selhurst Park. Still only 31, Coe initially combined his law studies with his scouting role but has been concentrating on extending Palace’s network in Europe. That has led them to target the French market in particular. One of several Premier League scouts in Poland this week for the European Under-21 Championship, Coe will be on the lookout for emerging talent below the radar as Palace search for a replacement for Sam Allardyce. Ed Aarons


Steve Walsh is Everton’s first director of football, a title that carries wide-ranging responsibilities but has player recruitment chief among them. Walsh, brother of the former Everton player Mickey, was lured to Goodison Park last summer from Leicester City as the major shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, restructured the club’s management structure. At Leicester, Walsh introduced N’Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy to the future Premier League champions. He has conducted a major overhaul of Everton’s scouting network since his appointment – it has more than 200 scouts in the north-west alone – bringing in Laurence Stewart from Manchester City as senior recruitment coordinator, Martyn Glover from Sunderland as chief scout and Jamie Hoyland as head of under-21 recruitment. Overseas he has concentrated Everton’s eyes on Europe’s five major leagues and South America. Andy Hunter


One of the club’s most important signings this summer could be David Moss, who has been appointed as head of football operations following the departure to Norwich City of Stuart Webber, who helped persuade David Wagner to become Huddersfield manager last summer and was involved in recruiting loanees such as Izzy Brown and Aaron Mooy. Moss’s pedigree is impressive: he joins from Celtic, where he helped headhunt Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembélé. The other two key people in Huddersfield’s transfer planning this summer will be Wagner and Josh Marsh, the club’s chief scout since February 2016. They have a network of about 15 full- and part-time talent spotters. Paul Doyle

Leicester City

Eduardo Macía was appointed as head of senior recruitment in September, in effect taking over from Steve Walsh, who joined Everton. The Spaniard, who previously worked at Valencia, Liverpool and Fiorentina, reports to Jon Rudkin, the director of football, with Craig Shakespeare, Leicester’s manager, the other senior figure involved in discussing transfer targets at first-team level. Ollie Waldron, the head of technical scouting, is part of a wider structure that includes two full-time technical scouts who attend matches and analyse data, three full-time talent identifiers in Europe and beyond and a comprehensive network of full-time and part-time scouts in the UK. Stuart James


Michael Edwards leads player recruitment and transfer talks and was therefore the man in the firing line when Liverpool publicly withdrew their interest in Virgil van Dijk amid allegations by Southampton of an illegal approach. Edwards has enjoyed a steady rise at Liverpool since being brought to the club from Tottenham Hotspur by the director of football at the time, Damien Comolli, in 2011. He was initially head of performance and analysis, then director of technical performance, technical director and was appointed Liverpool’s first sporting director in November last year having formed a close working relationship with Jürgen Klopp and taken over transfer negotiations from the former chief executive Ian Ayre. His work with analytics is valued by the owner, Fenway Sports Group, and was a source of irritation to the former manager Brendan Rodgers, and he was part of the club’s transfer committee along with the chief scout, Barry Hunter, and director of scouting, Dave Fallows. He oversees a worldwide scouting network. AH

Manchester City

There is no official head of recruitment after Manchester United poached Dave Harrison, the previous incumbent, last autumn. Gary Worthington is director of City Football Group Emerging Talent, though his role is to nurture and develop players rather than scout and acquire them. Recent successes before Harrison departed included Kelechi Iheanacho, an established first-team squad member, Tosin Adarabioyo, who last season played three times under Pep Guardiola, and the highly rated teenagers Brahim Díaz and Jadon Sancho. City are serving a two-year ban on recruiting certain youth players (one of those years is suspended for three seasons) imposed in early May for breaking Premier League rules when signing players. Jamie Jackson

Manchester United

Marcel Bout and Jim Lawlor work in tandem as the chief scouts. Steve Brown has overall responsibility for logistics and administration as head of scouting operations. Bout joined United as an assistant to Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014 and was chief opposition scout before his promotion last November. Lawlor was appointed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2005 and has recruited many players. Recent homegrown successes include Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. United have just overhauled their scouting system, appointing more than 50 staff because of a concern the club was being left behind. JJ

Newcastle United

The 72-year-old Graham Carr had been expected to step down as chief scout this summer after apparently losing a power struggle with Rafael Benítez but he remains in post – for now at least. Once extremely powerful at St James’ Park, the Northampton-based Carr – father of the comedian Alan Carr – has been at the club since 2010. His key finds include Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, the late Cheick Tioté, Papiss Cissé, Demba Ba and Moussa Sissoko. A former Northampton Town manager, Carr, whose wings have been clipped and influence limited by Benítez, came to scouting prominence while working with David Pleat at Tottenham and later identified players for Sven-Goran Eriksson at Manchester City. Frequently seen at games in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Louise Taylor


Ross Wilson, the director of scouting and recruitment, is the fast-rising star at Southampton. The Scot is a University of Strathclyde social sciences graduate who came to the club in 2015, having worked at Falkirk, Watford and Huddersfield Town, where he was the director of operations. Wilson oversees 20 full-time members of staff at Southampton’s Staplewood Campus, plus a further 30 scouts, including Bill Green, the influential international scout. Wilson chairs a five-strong recruitment committee which includes the heads of analysis and youth recruitment, and which meets regularly. He has talked of how his team profile prospective signings on technical and psychological levels. “At any one time we might have 20 in the mix for one position,” Wilson says. “Then we narrow it down to three or four.” David Hytner

Stoke City

The club’s technical director, Mark Cartwright, was appointed five years ago, when Tony Pulis was manager, and he has helped bring about significant changes in recent seasons as Stoke have pursued different sorts of targets under Mark Hughes, whose background has helped to attract players from top clubs such as Barcelona. One of the manager’s most trusted talent assessors is Kevin Cruickshank, who was appointed as Stoke’s head scout in 2013, having also worked with Hughes at Queen Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers. Paul Doyle

Swansea City

David Leadbeater is the head of recruitment and chief scout. Having arrived in 2010, he oversees a department that has enjoyed considerable success, although some of the club’s transfer dealings came under scrutiny in more recent times, before Swansea regained their touch in the January window, when Martin Olsson, Tom Carroll and Jordan Ayew made a positive impact. Leadbeater, who is credited with spotting Alfie Mawson playing for Barnsley, works closely with Tim Henderson, who looks after recruitment analysis. Swansea have five part-time scouts who cover Europe as well as the UK, with Brian Flynn, the former Wales international, the most senior. They also employ two part-time non-league scouts, one in the north and one in the south. SJ

Tottenham Hotspur

Steve Hitchen, the chief scout, worked at the club between 2005 and 2010 as the scout in France. He quickly became the main overseas scout and he returned in February this year, at around the time Paul Mitchell, the former head of recruitment and analysis, was leaving. Tottenham have said that Hitchen is not a like-for-like replacement and he fits into a slightly different structure, in which he makes his player recommendations to the three-man football committee of the chairman, Daniel Levy, the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and the academy manager, John McDermott. Hitchen went from Tottenham to Liverpool, where Damien Comolli, the director of football, said he was the “main reason” why the club signed Luis Suárez. Hitchen worked at Queens Park Rangers and Derby County before coming back to Tottenham. DH


Over five years at Watford Filippo Giraldi has been recruitment scout, chief scout and, as of last year, technical director, though he still oversees the scouting operation. He has half a dozen scouts under his direct control while also being able to utilise the larger team based at Udinese, the Italian club also owned by the Pozzo family. Watford have recruited widely since their promotion to the Premier League in 2015, initially prioritising experienced players who could help to establish the team in the top flight. Watford duly had the oldest squad in the Premier League last season and they are now attempting to recruit younger players. There are high hopes for the Venezuelan Adalberto Peñaranda, signed in 2016 and since loaned to Granada, Udinese and Málaga. The exciting forward will join the squad should his performances at the recent Under-20 World Cup finally earn him a work permit. Simon Burnton

West Bromwich Albion

Nicky Hammond, Albion’s technical director, oversees recruitment and also has responsibility for the scouting department. Brought in from Reading 14 months ago and vastly experienced, Hammond coordinates the club’s five domestic full-time scouts and a further six full-time scouts in Europe. Matty Phillips, signed from QPR for £6m last summer, is one of Hammond’s success stories, with the winger enjoying an excellent first season. Albion also have a recruitment manager, Jonathan Gibson, who works from the training ground and has responsibility for the video analysis of players of interest. Tony Pulis, Albion’s manager, has the final say on any signings. SJ

West Ham United

Tony Henry’s impressive work at Everton convinced West Ham to make him their head of recruitment in 2014 and his arrival led to the club adopting a fresher and broader approach in the market. Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyaté and Diafra Sakho were clever spots in Henry’s first window and West Ham excelled again in 2015. Dimitri Payet was the standout success but Manuel Lanzini, Pedro Obiang and Angelo Ogbonna were also solid signings. Yet Henry’s authority is not absolute. David Sullivan, joint owner, has a big say in identifying players and West Ham have floundered of late, opting for cheap quantity and overpriced experience. Jacob Steinberg

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