Francis Cagigao Had it Coming (Part 3) by AI
In this final part of the series that explains why Arsenal might no longer require the services of Francis Cagigao, we look at the hybrid agent-scout.
Recently, Arsenal have been heavily linked with a 17-year-old winger from Sporting CP. The links were not so surprising anymore when the player turned out to be represented by Kia Jorochaban, an agent who has been reported to be in cahoots with Edu and the executives.
While most people question the links and even the talent of Joelson Fernandes, a more important question is being left unanswered; Why would a very young player be already represented by one of the biggest agents in the world? How did Joelson, just 17, end up on the books of Kia?
The answer is scouts…
Most top players in the world are represented by one agency or the other. Representation is far more personal than the club-player relationship. Sometimes, agents can be family members or close friends. So it is far more difficult to separate a player from his agent compared to separating a player from a club.
With all that said, players also run to the end of their careers. And that can mean the end of a player being a cash cow for an agent. To keep a continual roster of players under their representation, agents must scout for new players, too.
As with everything, there are levels to the agent-scout. New, enterprising agents must scour around for clients who are talented enough to bring them into the big time with well-paying clubs. So an ambitious agent might scout for talent himself, or better still, employ scouts to do that for him.
For bigger agents, they rarely do any scouting themselves. They usually have a network of scouts working for them and they can concentrate on keeping a good relationship with coaches (who might also recommend a player), the players they represent and their families.
The very biggest agents head organizations that employs agents and scouts and puts them to work. Agents are also aware of each other: who is with who, and who is weak or strong. It is just like any other professional field.
Basically, a club like Arsenal once needed and could afford a big scouting department, more than say, Derby County. But with the modern proliferation of the agent-scout and analytics, everything is much easier. The biggest agents and agencies represent an obscene amount of talent and they all want to work with the best-paying clubs, of which Arsenal are among. Mino Raiola, for instance, would recommend an Erling Halaand to Arsenal but not Swansea City. And just as all the scouts know all the top talents, so do the agents. There’s no information barrier.
So why should clubs at the highest levels of football run a scouting department when agents could simply do that for them?
Wolves are a good example of this. Real Madrid and Barcelona are also good but distinct examples.
While both Spanish clubs run holistic talent identification systems (both human scouting and analysis), they are some of the most agent-reliant clubs out there. But within their internal setups, Real Madrid rely more on human scouting while Barcelona generally rely on analytics. Barcelona are quite reputable for having the best analytics department in soccer (Liverpool simply have a more integrated department).
Yet for all these, both clubs operate in unique ways. Their approach is determined by their recruitment plan. According to The Athletic, Real Madrid are notorious for barely using their scouting network at senior level. They almost do not scout at the first-team level. But they have a heavy presence at youth competitions. Real Madrid can pay for any superstar in the world but they’d rather cut costs if they could get them younger.
Take Federico Valverde for an example. When he was 17 and still at Penarol, Arsenal scouts heavily recommended him. He was invited over several times for a trial, but Arsenal soon found themselves unable to sign him up. His agents had established contact with Real Madrid who were able to quickly sign him up even though they had not put in as much work as Arsenal.
Arsenal scouted Valverde but he ended up at Real Madrid because Real Madrid had a better relationship with the agents.
This is why Francis Cagigao had it coming. Talent identification is so much easier to do nowadays. It is simply better to go through agents directly than the archaic methods of Arsene Wenger from the early 1990s. The list of players Arsenal have missed out on because they do not have a great relationship with agents is criminal. I will not make that list here. Only one name on it will suffice: Ngolo Kanté.