Arsenal move to strengthen scouting network in latest recruitment reshuffle

Arsenal have appointed a headhunting company to recruit new scouts in a number of key positions, nine months after gutting their previous recruitment structure in favour of a more streamlined approach.

The Guardian understands Arsenal have asked Nolan Partners, who specialise in filling senior roles within sports and entertainment, to help them find scouts in a number of areas where their presence has been light since last August. They are seeking two scouts in Germany, one of whom will be focused on youth recruitment, as well as new personnel to serve the UK, France and Spain. Discussions with some candidates are thought to be under way.

It is a procedure that may raise eyebrows given the high-profile changes made across Arsenal’s scouting network a month before this season began. They released Francis Cagigao, their head of international recruitment, as well as senior scouts in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK. In September the Arsenal technical director, Edu, explained those moves by saying: “I don’t want individual people working in one area or for one country. I want a group working together: less people with more responsibilities.”

Arsenal have sought to prioritise a more analytics-led process overseen by Jason Ayto, who has scouted for the club since 2014 and now coordinates player recruitment, with use of their in-house facility StatDNA. But the vacancies they have advertised suggest at least some acceptance that greater coverage is required regionally in an industry that still, to a large extent, relies on contacts and relationships being built in person.

The use of Nolan Partners, who are described on their website as an “executive search” firm, to enlist scouts has also caused surprise in some quarters given such positions are generally filled without external help of that nature. It will constitute further financial outlay for Arsenal at a time when their hopes of European football next season have all but disappeared. The subsequent shortfall in income will certainly mean Arsenal need to recruit cleverly in a summer that should see considerable changes among Mikel Arteta’s squad.

Arsenal’s position is that the drive to employ new scouts constitutes the latest phase of their revamp, the first stage having involved an installation of data-led processes and the latest complementing that with feet on the ground. The club believe Nolan Partners’ involvement will provide an objective stance on developing their new setup.