It’s a scout’s worst fear to spend half the day observing a soccer player who has been suggested to them. Only to discover that the player falls well short of the needed standard. However, artificial intelligence may soon spare scouts the trip.
Several teams, including Chelsea, Nottingham Forest, and Olympiacos, will begin utilising a smartphone application called AiSCOUT to assist them in finding new players this season.
Scouts may use the app to focus their searches by receiving statistics on soccer players’ physical, cognitive, and technical abilities. Players post videos of themselves executing club-mandated workouts. These workouts have been completed by the club’s players, providing a standard against which the scouted players may be judged.
According to AiSCOUT’s COO and Head of Sports Science, Richard Felton, Chelsea frequently supplied game films in the past. Still, such footage was worthless without knowing the calibre of the opponents the player was against. The club can determine whether players on the app are worth further investigation. It is done by comparing the players on the app to those already at Chelsea.
He claims pros are signed for millions of pounds based on so much data, but that data is only acquired after the player has gone pro. This programme will assist scouts in locating amateur athletes that the present system has missed.
The app’s workouts may range from fast dribbling to cognitive exams measuring focus or response time. A smartphone, a soccer ball, cone sets, and an area to do the drills are all required. According to Felton, the programme has been tested on various mobile phones. It can correct multiple surfaces, including dribbling around pebbles and jumpers on a sandy field.
At this early stage of the process, clubs utilising the app may specify what traits they are searching for. Chelsea, for example, focuses on power and pace. Players that lack such criteria will never play for Chelsea. Still, their other qualities may make them a suitable match for another team.
In addition to serving as a pre-screening tool, it may assist scouts in locating any players they may have overlooked.
Early app testing uncovered a player named Ben Greenwood, who Chelsea invited for a one-day trial. He ended up staying at Chelsea for 10 weeks and is now at Bournemouth, where he played with the first team and was capped for Ireland at the underage level.
Greenwood lived within a few kilometres of Chelsea’s training facility but had never been observed by Chelsea or any other professional team before using the app.
With all of Chelsea’s great young players, they probably don’t need much assistance finding new players. AI may revolutionise scouting by assisting teams that do not have the same scouting resources.
Small international teams, like the Caribbean islands in CONCACAF, have numerous people worldwide who are eligible to play for them but lack the scouting tools to identify them. Chile, for example, only discovered Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton Diaz when supporters discovered his Chilean lineage through the Football Manager computer game.
This tool might be used by such national teams to locate possible new players to invite to training camps. Millions of brilliant young people worldwide do not play organised soccer yet have all the qualities to succeed in the game. Who knows what talent can be discovered if artificial intelligence can access areas that scouts would never look at alone.
One soccer movie cliché has a player missing a vital occasion to hurry to a game for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be spotted by a Manchester United scout. Suppose artificial intelligence becomes widely used in scouting. The player will already be on the club’s radar and will be invited down for a trial.