Are mathematicians replacing football scouts at the world’s biggest clubs?

Football has changed over the decades and it continues to evolve. One of the best football books written in the last decade, Soccernomics, outlined just how football is changing.

Big clubs are using numbers, mathematicians, and algorithms to find the best football talent around the world. Clubs are hiring mathematicians over football scouts these days, or in some cases, hiring both.

According to former Roma sporting director Monchi, who moved back to Sevilla in April, “big data” is replacing football scouts. Data is being used by football clubs to reduce the risk clubs incur when they sign new players.

Big data reveals trends and patterns, and clubs can discover more about players than simply watching them in the old fashion way.

Liverpool are one of the leading clubs when it comes to using data. The club have identified a number of players using the Moneyball system invented in the United States by Major League Baseball team the Oakland Athletics.

Liverpool haven’t just signed people who can add and subtract. The Reds have hired staff with PhDs in mathematics and physics to run their data centre.

No longer are top clubs using ex-players and coaches to watch up and coming talent. Rather, it is highly educated people identifying the best and brightest. If you want a job in football that isn’t playing on the pitch, you may want to pursue a higher education degree.

Football has changed so much in the last 19 years, that Monchi states the speed in which he gets information, scouting reports, and charts delivered to him is incredible. What previously took weeks takes minutes today.

In the 1990s, diet and training were the biggest innovation coaches brought to football. Arsene Wenger’s work at Arsenal led to many changes in English football. Now, maths is being used to find the best footballers around the world for the Premier League’s top clubs.

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