Constructing a global recruitment plan

At MRKT Insights we have been fortunate enough to be able to assist and advise some great European clubs on their global recruitment strategy.

An evidence-based approach and making the best short-, medium-, and long-term decisions is the best way to succeed.

But is it possible to narrow down a whole world of options into a cohesive, value-for-money, joined-up recruitment policy?

Pre-project questions & investigations

It is, of course, important to understand the parameters of the project at the beginning.

Every club is limited by resources; time and money. Every club has a different risk appetite. 

Allocating the time and resources into watching players the club would or could actually sign is far better than having a comprehensive database of South American wonderkids if we have neither the budget nor appetite to actually make these signings.

Key questions 

What are the recruitment rules in the club’s territory? 

Suggesting that an English Championship club to go shopping directly in Australia, or any of the African countries, poor advice. Whilst there is a huge amount of talent around the world, the English work permit restrictions will limit the ability to sign players from that market. 

Given that only internationals or youth internationals playing in leagues in those nations would qualify for a UK work permit it would be better to concentrate on just those who will qualify in the next transfer window.

Different markets have different rules on foreign players, squad sizes, starting XI composition and more. 

What are the resources?

We have worked with clubs with 50 people in the scouting department, and some with 1.

Clearly you can cover more games, more players, and more territories with a bigger team. Presumably you can also deal with the adaptation of players from abroad with a bigger team (whether that stands up to scrutiny if analysed is a different question) and therefore may look abroad.

What is the risk appetite?

Some clubs will sign players purely off data and video. Some will insist on several live viewings before they will buy a player. Some rely on the manager/head coach as the ultimate decision maker. All of these internal rules will have implications for the range of leagues you can scout.

Assessing the current situation & investigating recent historical recruitment

As any good History student will know, without understanding where we are and how we got there, we have no hope of successfully changing the future for the better.

So we take the temperature of the club and the league setting. Each club and every league have different requirements and a different history, understanding what has been successful in the recent past, using MRKT performance data and recent historic transfer research, gives us the best possible understanding to move forwards with.

If we are able to answer these types of questions, then we know that we have the information required:

  • How have teams been successful in their performances and results, and who is achieving sustainable domestic success?
  • Where do the best players in the league generally come from?
  • Where has recruitment been successful in the league?
  • Which countries/leagues have provided the best players/most value for money?
  • Which leagues have seen players move and be successful, but have flown under the radar?
  • Which markets are the best to target for sales according to historic data?
  • If the data is available, performing a deep dive on the domestic youth leagues/teams.

The crucial thing however is to realise that we are looking at what HAS worked, not what WILL work. We need to be on top of current player quality and development trends to know where we should look.

Using playing style to match to other leagues and specific teams

At MRKT we have a number of different models that we use to assess similarities and differences between at League. Team, and Player level.

We work with clubs to look at how they want to play and use that to identify

  • Which leagues map closest to the target league in playing style?
  • Which players are successful in those leagues?
  • Are there leagues which specify in certain aspects of play that the club requires i.e. wide players and crossing? A technical #6?

Then which teams play the closest style (e.g counterpressing) and look for players likely to be able to play within their preferred style.

Then which players have played well in the past in their preferred system but are not currently playing well in a different style.

We also know that players can adapt (and improve) it different styles so we look at the key player metrics that translate well to different styles of play.

Where does the club/league sit financially compared to other leagues?

Obviously, it is important that the plan provided is realistic.

It would be all too easy to suggest that you would find better players in the Premier League, or that you could find affordable players in the second tier of Iceland, but, in 99% of cases, neither of those leagues would be suitable shopping areas for a club.

As is widely understood, accurate financial information, especially on a global scale, is very difficult to source. We use proxies that we believe give us the best ballpark figures and work within a range that provides some margin for error.

Providing an insight into the world’s best young talent

Getting a handle on how the best talent in the world is developed and where the next generations are coming from gives our clients the opportunity to assess how they can make themselves part of the market.

Whilst the top 10-20% of the best talent may only be available to the top tier of clubs, there are plenty of leagues/countries producing players who could be available for the right price at the right time to allow our clients to benefit from their ability on the pitch, and then to benefit financially from their next move.

Using our contacts, data scouting tools, data flow platform and transfer analysis, we are able to make recommendations for our clients’ recruitment department to focus their efforts towards the most fruitful young player markets.

Bringing the findings together to deliver conclusions and advice

The bottom line of this work and advice is to then recommend how a coherent approach across all of these areas might look.

Our findings are always completely tailored to the specific client, but there is a certain structure that we have found works to provide a degree of simplicity and clarity to clubs.

We tend to break down our recommended leagues to concentrate on into four groups, of which there will be a degree of overlap, but are fairly distinct.

This grouping will then, hopefully, allow clubs, regardless of resource, to allocate their time and activity in the right areas to allow them to progress in their recruitment successfully.


At MRKT Insights we are big believers in medium- and long-term planning using research and data to help make those decisions.

A poor recruitment window, or a number of poor recruitment windows, can set clubs back a lot of time and a lot of money.

We believe that the work that we are able to do can provide the backbone of a club’s recruitment strategy, potentially saving millions of euro, and creating opportunities to provide millions of euro in profits in the long term.

The tools and processes are already in place for MRKT Insights to help immediately with your strategy.

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