What should I watch to see if a player is valid?
After many years of watching games, I realize that I have metabolized the reference criteria in determining if a player has to be reported. The rules that I had set at the beginning give way to something else, so at the end, I can now say with certainty that it has become a matter of pure instinct. A player strikes me and usually makes me turn on the light, when he responds to a series of characteristics that, a priori, over time, I have defined and codified.
A recurring question that comes to me when I explain what I do is the following: but what do you look for in a player?
A question that deserves clear answers in order to dispel a series of doubts and, possibly, describe a method that I have to recode, given that I have refer to the instinct that I have built over the years with difficulty and share it in a series of rules, which are those that developed process it.
The first thing I observe is the consistency of the player with the role, in the context of the method of playing, which, seems an extremely difficult concept, but which in reality can be explained with simpler words.
Let’s start from the defensive line: I see if it is composed of three or two central defenders, looking for more physically structured defenders if you play with two defenders and maybe with a little more speed on the center-right or on the center-left if you play with three defenders. The full back has to be a mixture of physicality and speed. In midfield I want different characteristics which depending on whether we play for two or three men, with particular attention to the physicality of the interior, if the midfield is composed of three men, who I ask for strength in the legs and, possibly, a good stride. On the way I want at least a strong physically tip that can do well in any offensive module and offensive externals that have great speed and strength.
Once the features I’m looking for clear, I have to find the players who can have that kind of requirement. But how does the research take place? Basically I want a player to be considered valid and to be reported, he must have three qualities from which he deviates very little: I want physicality, technique and football intelligence, understood as the choice of the most correct game at that particular moment in the game. This presupposes great knowledge on the part of the scout of football dynamics, so as to be able to easily judge whether the player at that particular moment in the contest is doing the right thing. An example that makes the most of the idea is represented by that player who can pass the ball to a better placed buddy and instead prefers to be stubborn in a dribble that makes him lose the playing time. Or similar situations that presuppose a choice in a given moment that I claim is the right one.
So, wanting to summarize, a footballer that I mark has, in principle, present peculiarities of good physique, good technique and football intelligence, which justify my report. Obviously we are talking about a series of rules that aim to simplify everything and to constitute a method that, over time, may prove to be valid.
One could rightly object that in this way maybe I could lose the Messi of the situation, just because maybe I might not recognize him as highly physical. The need to be flexible allows me to derogate and establish that, if one of the three requirements is missing, the other two must be so preponderant that they can somehow justify their reporting.
An example of a player who hit me a lot at the European Under-19 Championship last year and who did not physically respond to my fees was Fran Beltran, central midfielder of the Spanish national team: only 170 cm, but an extraordinary player, a sort of magnet for every ball at the height of half the field. So strong that, in the three-handed midfield of this year’s Celta Vigo, it took the place of the central pivot by taking it off to Lobotka (tried several times by Napoli), an equally extraordinary player despite its 172 cm, which had to be sacrificed as internal.
So my instinct arising from having seen an average of at least two games a day in recent years (Art.: At least two matches per day read here) has become a synthesis of the player’s coherence to the role on the one hand and to own the requirements of physicality, technique and football intelligence on the other. Only then will an authoritative position be built in my archive.