Premier League – Meet Arsenal’s real dream team
Those who watched Arsenal‘s kids outclass a full-strength Wigan side in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night were again left wondering just where Arsenal keep finding all these players?
Arsenal’s ability to unearth gems from around the world is now legendary but still little is known about the people who actually find all these amazing talents.
Eurosport.yahoo.co.uk takes a look at Arsenal’s real dream team – their scouting network – a collection of individuals who save the club a fortune in transfer fees.
Manager – Arsene Wenger
We have to start at the top, and manager Wenger really is the brains behind the whole operation. From his first day in charge he set about bringing a global vision to the club. Only after studying an extensive dossier and video footage of a player will Wenger even consider making a move for him. He is always the ultimate judge when it is decided whether a player is good enough for Arsenal.
Chief scout – Steve Rowley
The leader of a scouting operation that includes seven English scouts and 16 more abroad, Rowley will always travel to watch a player before he is recommended to Wenger. Rowley has been at Arsenal for 30 years and discovered the likes of Tony Adams and Ray Parlour, but before Wenger arrived he had never been on a working assignment outside of Britain. Since then he has travelled all over the planet and is held in such high esteem that clubs have constantly tried to poach him. He recently turned down a big money move to Zenit St Petersburg.
Spanish scout – Francis Cagigao
Cagigao is a former youth player at Arsenal and Barcelona but while he never quite made it as a first-teamer he has become a valuable asset as a scout. Cagigao is the man who identified Cesc Fabregas as a player worth chasing and he recommended Lionel Messi to Arsenal with work permit issues preventing a move for the Argentine at the time. Recently he discovered Fran Merida – tipped as the ‘new Fabregas’ – who starred against Wigan.
South American scout – Sandro Orlandelli
Based in Brazil, Orlandelli immediately called Rowley when he saw Carlos Vela playing at the World Youth Championships in Peru. Orlandelli also became friends with Vela’s father, which helped seal the deal. Denilson was another Orlandelli discovery, while he also first spotted young left-sided player Pedro Botelho who is currently on loan at Salamanca in Spain. He scouted Sao Paulo striker Diogo, for whom Arsenal have had two recent bids rejected.
The close friend – Jean-Marc Guillou
Not directly on the Arsenal payroll – Guillou has still been a key player in the Arsenal success story. His football schools in Africa helped unearth Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, and his close relationship with Wenger made sure that the Arsenal boss found out first. Guillou was also manager of Belgian club Beveren during the co-operation agreement between the clubs which ran from 2001until 2006.
French scout – Gilles Grimandi
Wenger has an in-depth knowledge of the French game, but when he hears about a top prospect in his homeland he instructs former player Grimandi to keep a keen eye on the player. Positive reports from Grimandi on the likes of Abou Diaby, Bacary Sagna, Alex Song, and Mathieu Flamini persuaded Wenger to sign the players.
The international partnerships performance supervisor – Steve Morrow
Most famous for scoring the winning goal in the 1993 League Cup final before breaking his arm in the post-match celebrations – Morrow recently started managing Arsenal’s international partnerships, which currently includes the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, BEC Tero of Thailand and Hoang Anh Gia Lai of Vietnam. Morrow also assists Arsenal’s academies in countries such as Egypt and Ghana.
Scandinavian scout – Bobby Bennett
Bennett has been working for Arsenal in Scandinavia for seven years and helped to persuade Nicklas Bendtner to join the club by presenting him with a signed shirt from his favourite player – Robert Pires. Bennett also scouted Havard Nordtveit, a 17-year-old Norwegian centre-half who is considered one of Arsenal’s top prospects and who is currently on loan with Botelho at Salamanca.
Germany scout – Thomas Kost
Italian scout – Tony Banfield
Banfield is the son of reserve team coach Neil. His big recent discovery was Johan Djourou who came up on his radar after he overheard two agents talking about the Swiss centre-half at a youth tournament in Croatia.
The ex-Players – Peter Clarke and Danny Karbassiyoon
Two more former Arsenal youth players are part of the Arsenal scouting network, with Clarke based in Holland and Karbassiyoon covering North America and Mexico.
The head of youth development – Liam Brady
The Arsenal and Ireland legend oversees the development of the young players once they arrive at Arsenal, ensuring they can play Wenger’s unique brand of football He has been at the club since just before Wenger arrived in 1996. Former Arsenal great Steve Bould is also involved with the youngsters as head coach of the Under-18 Academy side.