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October 2016
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Danny Karbassiyoon answers Untold readers’ questions on being a scout for Arsenal


During the past few months Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon has contributed an occasional series of articles about being a scout for Arsenal.

Now, as publication of Danny’s new book, The Arsenal Yankee, approaches publication, Danny answers some of the questions that have been put to him in the correspondence following each article.  (More details on Danny’s book at the end of the article)


 How does an Arsenal scout decide if a player is good enough or not?

Would be interesting to know what happens after the player is recommended to a club

Depending on if it is a youth or senior player there are different routes. Most youth players we will look to bring on trial. Some higher profile ones from bigger clubs won’t because logistically it may not make sense, but for the most part if we like a player and think he’d improve the quality at the Club, we’ll look to get him in on trial which may last a week or two.

As a scout you can’t just continuously throw around recommendations though (unless they all come and sign!) If two or three  players come over and don’t make the grade, those shortcomings will soon reflect on the scout.

Are scouts involved when deals are made for already established players?

Answering the second part of the previous question – absolutely. Some scouts will specialize more in youth scouting and others at the senior level, but any player we are looking to sign will have scouts watch him. You can learn a lot by watching a player (even if he is one of the world’s best) over the course of a month or two. Home games, away games, cup games, and everything in between. Seeing how the player reacts to different situations helps paint a better picture for how he’ll adapt if we do make a move.

Are these reports vetted by someone else first before a shortlist is presented to the Boss?

We have a very organized system that ensures the Boss sees what he needs to see.

Presumably the agent will make you aware as soon as their client has received another offer?!

Certainly depends on the agent and the club interested in the player. For the most part it is very important to keep great relationships with all agents, as you’ll have to deal with them if a player they have is worth a good look. If an agent has a better relationship with another club than he has with you, he might get a deal done without even bringing it up to you. Because there aren’t a large number of players from CONCACAF going to the world’s biggest clubs, I’d usually get alerted if a player I had seen before was speaking with another big club.

Guns and bullets, carjackings and football: scouting for Arsenal.

Honduras- I reckon that was Palacios. Thing is, I’d like to know these things, but figure it’s not exactly right to go into the details, and am very confident the author won’t, as is right (but damn I’m intrigued). If you can get that point across- the inherent difficulties in signing players- you’ll be performing an invaluable service for us.

First of all, it wasn’t Palacios!

Secondly, signing some players isn’t as straightforward as many people think it should or can be. Loads of factors go into deciding whether or not a scout decides to recommend a player. Sometimes, despite all the boxes not being checked, a scout will still make the recommendation if they really believe in the player.

Joel didn’t have an EU passport when I first saw him, but I knew we could send him on loan and he’d get a work permit through the national team in several years. This obviously isn’t ideal, because what we all want to see is these players go straight to Colney and develop there, but we were willing to take the chance with him because he ticked the other boxes.

Other players don’t seem to have any path to a work permit any time, which makes it even more difficult. In the case of Di Maria, he was able to go to Benfica where he was able to play and make an impact from day one instead of having to go out on loan.

A typical week in the life of an Arsenal scout

How is it that a scout can decide the day before to attend a game – and then has a prime seat? Do clubs hold back a number of tickets for every match for other club representatives etc?

In England and across Europe clubs generally will reserve a certain number of seats for visiting scouts. In the US I have to arrange nearly every ticket on my own through my own contacts at various clubs or organizations, but in England, because the scouting culture has been around for decades, clubs will look after their fellow clubs when requests are made.

There are situations where all the allotted tickets will be gone and there won’t be a ticket available, but if the request is made generally the week of the game, it is fine.

Since I’ve been back in England, I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of the whole scouting experience. Some stadiums/clubs are certainly more accommodating to visiting scouts – both with pre-match and half-time food as well as seats in the Directors’ Box. Other stadiums aren’t such a joy to visit! For the most part, you’re always surrounded by other scouts wherever you sit.

How to Become a Football Scout 

I have a specific question regarding scouting: has there been a change in methods of scouting?

I think technology has certainly changed the way scouts go about their business. We have a number of tools (some proprietary, others more publicly available) that aid us in not only assessing players but keeping everything organized and easy to access.

There has been a huge emphasis on stats and numbers in recent years (Moneyball was a good book!), and I think it has certainly changed the way a lot of people view the game. For the time being, I think good scouts will use that tech to their advantage on top of the more traditional, naked eye scouting that many are accustomed to. Numbers and stats can certainly help validate some ideas a scout has so it has definitely made ‘building a case’ of a player a bit easier.


The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a Foreword by Arsène Wenger will be published at the end of March and will be available directly from Untold as a printed edition, and via Amazon on Kindle.

We’ll have full details of how to order etc on the site next week, so that you’ll be able to get a copy as soon as it is published but let me give you just one little snippet – the front cover contains a never previously published picture of Danny and Arsène Wenger alongside Gedion Zelalem at Gedion’s signing.



12 comments to Danny Karbassiyoon answers Untold readers’ questions on being a scout for Arsenal

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for a very fine read , Danny . Cheers !

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Danny for this. Always very interesting to read such things.
    Certainly the part “Secondly, signing some players isn’t as straightforward as many people think it should or can be” is what we on Untold have been saying for years and years. Good to hear that this is really the case from someone from the inside.

  • Al

    Thanks Danny 🙂 Very informative, as always.

  • andy bishop

    Very interesting and not a simple as “pay the money” as many disgruntled fans say when results go against us. All the Wenger out brigade have yet to come up with a viable alternative. Get this player in and that player out. Players have contracts that cost. There is a massive erroneous belief amomg these that money is everything and if we pay enough any player would come to us. That is just not the reality. Pay the money for Suarez..yeh and for him to want to go after a year or two to Barcelona once they came calling. Like many I cannot understand what has happened to this team..maybe the loss of Cazorla long term..Welbeck was put back by his injury..loss of form by Sanchez after injury..where Walcott has gone no one knows. It cannot be fixed by just getting rid and change things every time it goes awry. This is why we need a good scouting system and youth policy that Wenger has introduced. my favourite phrase from one fan “Robbie we have had years of the same old thing..not winning trophies and failing when the going gets tough” Because Wenger is such a good all round manager our fans expect more and they are the arrogant ones failing to deal with reality. Having said that we should be winning the league this year once we hit the top something went wrong with our mentality. Answers on a postcard please.

  • rich

    Excellent stuff. Underlines what a coup it is to hear from Danny on here.

    I’m hoping I’m not so sad as to be over-excited just because one of my questions made it up there, mind! (damn, always thought i was too cool for that and that Wenger or Bergkamp could walk past me and the most I’d do was give a small, smiling nod)

    Does make me laugh at our old friends the media,though. All that endless football coverage, and yet so many aspects of football they never explore. It’s like making the debate as intelligent, accurate and informed as possible doesn’t really figure in their aims or something.

    The bit about Di Maria should get people thinking about how they need to factor in the different markets managers and clubs work in when evaluating them, if that’s their thing. Simeone and his extensive use of South American market, for instance, which he couldn’t use in the same way from England.

    Italy is full of quirks to say the least and Germany seems to have an unofficial set of rules which sees the clubs there behave extra reasonably with each other (plus their young players are so damn sensible and German they normally resist the highest £ possible and prioritise their development)

    If I’d have known there was a real chance Danny would end up answering some reader questions, I’d have tried thinking of a few more.

    Just in case, a couple then:

    Have you ever been in a situation where you push hard for a player but the club decides against it (no names) ?

    Do you have faith in the work permit models to always be consistent?

    Did becoming a scout change the way you view the game, perhaps surprising you in the process, and maybe involving an element of loss?

  • Samuel Akinsolas Adebosin

    The starting Arsenal team starts the Boss started for the Ucl match against Barca at Nou Camp which subsequently got knocked out by Barca was a very good team starters. But were not good enough as they lacked the required finishing power in front of Barca’s goal which would have enabled them to beat Barca and to possibly knocked them of the competition.

    What is the way forward? The Boss MUST take the bull by the horn next season to 1st, recognise the fact that the Walcott he has now at Arsenal is not the prolific goals scoring Walcott he once had before his big ACL injury that sidelined him for a year. He has lost his once prolific goals scoring form. And has deceived the Boss into believing he can lead the line for Arsenal and got away with a very big lucrative contract deal. He can’t even mann the mid-right wing properly any longer talkless of to lead the line for Arsenal.

    2ndly, the Arsenal midfielders and defenders have not been able to bailed out the Arsenal attacking forwards of, Olivier Giroud and Sanchez whose consistent goals scoring abilities have gone dried. The Arsenal midfielders & defenders were bailing out Arsenal forwards with their own contributed goals when the Arsenal forwards have found it difficult to score last season. Welbeck is looking goals scoring short since he returned to action for Arsenal. Save his last minutes goal against Leicester that gave us all the 3 points. While Sanchez and Giroud have are all looking goals scoring epidemic infected of late, save their occasional bursts of goals at Hull and Spurs.

    Flamini is still good and should be retained for another season as he has forged a good understanding partnership with Elneny. And ofcourse Coquelin who has an equal understanding partnership will Cazorla will remain at Arsenal next season. This understanding partnership is very vital at Arsenal defense base. But the Boss might need to sign in a top lying midfielder should in case Cazorla can’t hit the top form he was in again after he has recovered from his injury. And besides, Arteta and Rosicky would all need replacing.

    I think the like to bomb forward Ramsey, and Iwobi should be confine to a senior and junior cover roles for Ozil as playmakers. So, no signing is required for that position. Campbell, the Ox, and the returnee Wilshere should be abled to mann the mid-right wing successful. No signing is urgently required there in the summer. Sanchez should recover from his lack of sufficient goals scoring tally form next season. But a top cover signing is required for that position. and Adelaide too could be promoted as a 2nd cover for the position.

    If Jenko recovers well from his injury and hits top form in the pre-season, the Boss could keep him as a 2nd good cover for Bellerin in addition to versatile 1st cover Chambers. But a top quality CHB cover is most desired at the heart of Arsenal defense-line as Rhino’ and Koscielny are aging and fast losing pace. However, all the Current Arsenal defenders should be retained for our next season summer campaign at least.

    Olivier Giroud is an asset to Arsenal forward line so too is Danny Welbeck. But the duo MUST upgrade their goals scoring capacity to a consistent level. Their lack of goals scoring consistency has hurt Arsenal a great deal this season as Arsenal have become short in their Barclays Premier League points hualaige. A situation that is threatening the success of their title challenge this season. Since Walcott can’t be relied on to be scoring goals on a consistent basis for Arsenal next season, the Boss MUST all but have to look for a marquee striker and signs him for Arsenal at the start of Arsenal’s next season campaign. However, I hope the Boss will fish-out a Arsenal Rashford, Willock? And start to use him for Arsenal next season games campaign to see if he can help solve Arsenal lingering striker problem.

  • Gooner S

    Excellent. Thank you.

  • Rich, I was once in the passageways of Highbury (not the widest passages in the universe) and Pires and Vieira walked past me.

    All I could do was flatten myself against the wall to give them room to pass and grin inanely. My claim to fame.

    But I am just hearing via the drums and semaphore flags that pass for a communication system in rural Northants that Danny has agreed to talk at an AISA meeting next month so we’ll all be able to sit and grin at him together.

    More details on that meeting and how to get tickets for it anon. But meanwhile, I’m glad the article is liked – I really thought it was quite something – one of the most interesting pieces we’ve ever published.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well Tony , back in 1975 , when Arsenal were in Kuala Lumpur , I was able to get up close and get the autographs of goalkeeper Jimmy Rimmer , striker Brian Kidd , defender Terry Mancini and first team coach Bobby Campbell , who were coaching some school kids .
    A midfielder’s autograph and it would have been a full house !

  • rich


    An excellent article.

    Bit surprised there’s not more interest in it, as judged by amount of comments. Though that fits with my ideas a bit about people not being interested in real details should they get in the way of how they like to see things. In this case transfers being straightforward and much like a computer game.

  • Andy Mack

    Are you absolutely certain that the clubs/scouts don’t use Fifa Manager and other ‘online’ games as their main ‘tool’?
    A lot of keyboard warriors will be really surprised about that!

  • Pete

    Thanks Danny – appreciate the response to my and other questions.