Identifying players to fit your team’s style of play

In the process of recruitment & scouting, an essential piece to the puzzle is in finding players to fit the team’s style of play, rather than just the very best players. Without a game model that specifies how a team wants to function in each phase of the game, this is difficult to achieve. But beyond studying a game model, a recruitment & scouting analyst could use a few other methods for finding the right players, that would allow them to transform their team and achieve new heights.

FINDING ‘COMPARABLE’ PLAYERS

Within a manager’s game model, it is important to detail the desired characteristics of their players, even going so far as to break it down by position. Doing this can allow a scout to identify players that fit the exact mold of the manager’s desired characteristics, which could be different for each role. That’s an obvious, standard thing for a scout to do. But scouts and analysts could go one step further, by identifying and listing players that fit the mold of the manager’s desired characteristics, and then looking for similar comparisons. Sites like FBRef use data to compare players within Europe’s top five leagues on the men’s side, based on their statistical output and on-the-ball events. A recruitment analyst could then use a website like this to identify players within a certain pay grade and ability that fall in line with a player the team already has at their disposal, or a player that matches the type of character they’d want to bring in.

For example, a manager could have a desire for one winger that inverts in central areas, and another that stays wide. An example of a winger that inverts brilliantly in central areas could be Lucas Moura, who often drops in deep in build-up phases under Antonio Conte to get on the ball and then drive forward. An example of a winger who hugs the touch-line and uses their pace and power to beat players 1v1 down the line could be Adama Traore. It’s perhaps not the best example, as they both play down the right, but the analyst could then find similar players to Lucas Moura and Adama Traore in their quest to achieve those desired player characteristics. Assuming that the club is below the level of the pay-grade to these players, this is a massively helpful tool to use. On the FBRef shortlist for these players, you can find Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada (for Moura) and Rennes’ Jeremy Doku (for Traore), which would be excellent, lower-cost signings for any club to make.

Using this method, a manager could then establish their ‘dream player’ in each position based on their desired characteristics, and then use that as the basis when recruiting and scouting players. A tool like FBRef can be helpful for clubs within Europe’s top five leagues, but for clubs below that level, scouts and analysts can use their own footballing knowledge when conducting player analyses to find identify similar comparisons. Scouts at any level should be doing this regardless, as statistics should not be used as the sole marker to judging a player.

In the quest to find eleven new players, fitting all of these pieces into the same puzzle would be a near impossible task. But gradually over time, in the quest to replace certain players, this can be a useful method for finding the right players to fit a team’s style of play, and allow an ease of transition from one departed player to a brand new one, or upgrading in any area of the field. So when recruiting players for your team, consider identifying a ‘dream’ player that can guide your search, helping you find a player that matches both your own team’s style of play and game model.


So there it is! A useful method for identifying players to fit your team’s style of play. Be sure to check out more Recruitment & Scouting based articles, and follow on social media @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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