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)
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.
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.
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.
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.