Having stunned the football world once again by beating Wigan, the Arsenal youngsters have been the talk of the town but how did Arsenal get them?. Some have signed from abroad and others groomed from the academy. Chief Scout Steve Rowley told Arsenal Annual Members Magazine the process of identifying and bringing in such talents.
What’s the process for finding players? Do you tell them where to be or do they follow their own leads?
Well these scouts are all responsible for their own countries, they have built up a big network of contacts over the years. They have met players, coaches, other scouts, so they all get tip offs, they then go and watch, and then report to me via our database.
If the report sounds interesting then I will tell them to watch a couple more times, then I will send another scout to look at the player, to get a fresh perspective. If they come back positive too, I will go. But there is no set number of times we watch a player.
For Fabregas for example, you watch him once or twice and that’s enough. Other players though may play in a poor league, so you need to watch them more when they come up against a good team. So there is no set rule, basically I trust my scouts and if they say “Steve, stop messing about” then I’m there.
After I’ve watched the player I will compile a dossier for the manager, and also a video which contains the player’s good and bad points. The manager is so, so good at assessing a player that he can say straight away whether he likes what he sees or not. Then he will get onto his own contacts around the world to find out more about the player’s background, so it’s not just down to playing ability. When he’s made the decision, we move quickly to seal the deal.
Arsene Wenger has a reputation of signing lesser known names, so do you tell your scouts to focus more on those type of players?
Well we know about the bigger names too of course, we knew about Messi when we knew about Cesc obviously because they were in the same team, but we couldn’t do anything about it because he is Argentine. Generally though, yes the prices are more competitive when they are relatively unknown. I think the gaffer likes the fact that they are not going to cost millions and millions, but I also think that what’s important to him is that it gives him more scope to develop the player through his own coaching methods. At the same time if we bring a 16-year-old in through our scouts, I fully expect him to be able to train with the first team and not look out of place. They have to be of a very, very high standard.
What was it that made Cesc Fabregas stand out for example, when you first saw him play?
It’s a combination of things. The boss loves intelligent players, physically they also have to be of a certain level. Midfielders have to have great stamina and with Cesc, even at 15, you could see he would run all day. He had the basic requirements, added to great intelligence and great technique, just as every player we bring in has. We also look for that winning attitude. People like Cesc, Denilson – all of them in fact – they have the right mentality. There are also players we scout who are undoubtedly very talented, but you know that for whatever reason, they will not be a success in England. Can they adapt to this league? It’s a big question..
Read more to find out about the scouts at Arsenal.Boro Primorac- First team coach: The former Yugoslavia captain is considered to be Arsene’s ‘real’ right hand man as the having been part of Wenger’s backroom staff in Japan at Grampus Eight and Nagoya. He is a highly rated tactician and has watched players from Southern Europe in particular, including Miralem Pjanic, Eduardo, Luka Modric and Erdin Dzeko to name a few.
Steve Rowley- Chief Scout: The leader of a scouting operation that includes seven English scouts and 16 more abroad, Rowley will always travel to watch a player before he is recommended to Wenger. First alerted to Abou Diaby when watching a France U19 match on T.V in Northern Ireland.An interesting finding was Denilson who after being alerted to Wenger, the manager asked for him to be monitored closely. Denilson was due to play a local men’s team in Sao Paolo with the Brazil Under-19 team but the game was fenced by barriers. Rowley got a peak and got to saw 45 composed minutes. Turned down a big money move to new superpower Zenit St Petersburg recently.
Francis Cagigao- Spanish scout: Cagigao was a youth player at Arsenal and Barcelona during the 1980’s and identified such current Arsenal players as Fabregas, Merida and Miquel but also Barcelona’s Messi who was unable to join to work permit issues.
He is selective with his phone calls so when Rowley received a call on a mobile from pitch-side at an Under-15 game, he knew it was important.
“You have to see this kid,” said Cagigao. “He is special.” Rowley did and was suitably impressed. Fabregas joined after a settlement was reached due to the Catalan club not being able to give a professional contract before 18.
- Sandro Orlandelli, Pablo Budner and Everton Gushiken: South America (Denilson)
- Gilles Grimandi: France and Switzerland (Sagna, Flamini, Song)
- Bobby Bennett: Scandinavia (Bendtner, Nortdviet)
- Thomas Kost: Germany
- Tony Banfield: Italy, Slovenia and Croatia
- Peter Clarke: Holland (and Ireland)
- Danny Karbassiyoon: USA and Mexico
Steve Morrow: The international partnerships performance supervisor
Manages Arsenal’s international partnerships, which currently includes the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, BEC Tero of Thailand and Hoang Anh Gia Lai of Vietnam. Morrow also assists Arsenal’s academies in countries such as Egypt and Ghana.
Liam Brady: The head of youth development
The Arsenal and Ireland legend oversees the development of the young players once they arrive at Arsenal, ensuring they can play Wenger’s unique brand of football.
Promising home-grown talents: Jack Wilshere, Henri Lansbury, Mark Randall, Conor Henderson, Benik Afobe, Gavin Hoyte, Jay Simpson, Sanchez Watt, Kieran Gibbs, Rhys Murphy, Luke Ayling
Signed from other clubs: Luke Freeman, Kyle Bartley