5 key steps when you find a new talent by Bruno Costa

5 key steps when you find a new tal­ent by Bruno Costa

Bruno Costa is head of scout­ing at San Jose Earthquakes. The Brazilian joined the MLS side in the begin­ning of 2017 and has almost 20-years expe­ri­ence of scout­ing and as Academy Director for Fluminense FC and Figueirense FC, in the Brazilian top flight (Série A), and with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). As a scout for the Brazil Youth National Teams, he helped scout the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Marcelo and Willian. Bruno draws on his expe­ri­ences at club and nation­al team lev­el to pick out five key iden­ti­fiers of tal­ent for play­ers in the 14 – 16 age groups.

Bruno Costa Image credit: Bruno Costa and San Jose Earthquakes

1) Comfortable on the ball

The first thing I look for, is whether the play­er is com­fort­able on the ball. When he receives the ball, how com­fort­able is the play­er on the ball? The most impor­tant thing in a game is the ball so if a play­er does receive the ball well, he has a bet­ter chance to suc­ceed. I am from Brazil and come from a back­ground of very tech­ni­cal play­ers, that is the first thing you see in a play­er. Working as a scout with Brazil’s youth nation­al teams, I watched the likes of Neymar and Coutinho and many oth­ers good pro­files when they were 14. They were all very com­fort­able receiv­ing and play­ing the ball in any situation.

2) Decisions makings

When the play­er receives the ball, what do they do with it? It is anoth­er impor­tant aspect of the game. Do they choose the right play? Do they look to pass for­ward? How quick­ly do they make the deci­sion to pass/​run with the ball?

3) Movement

It is impor­tant to look at how a play­er moves on and off the ball. Even when they have not got the ball, you have to look at what options they are giv­ing to their team­mates? Are they track­ing the runs of oppo­nents? Do they look to move into posi­tions that give team­mates an out­let when they regain pos­ses­sion? What runs do they make to cre­ate space for their team­mates, how do they move? Do they have good balance?

4) Tactical awareness

This is some­thing you have to look for at a cer­tain age. Maybe up to 14 years old it is not so impor­tant but when play­ers are ready to sign the first con­tract, you should ana­lyze their knowl­edge and under­stand­ing of the sys­tem their team is play­ing, not only defen­sive­ly but also offen­sive­ly. The play­er has to know their role, what is expect­ed of them when they have the ball and when out of pos­ses­sion. Every posi­tion has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics and the play­ers have to under­stand what is required of them posi­tion­al­ly, tac­ti­cal­ly. Do they take up good posi­tions when in pos­ses­sion and when out of possession?

5) Body language

Look to see how a play­er acts on and off the field. Coming into pro-team envi­ron­ments you need play­ers who are going to be good inside the dress­ing room. If a play­er does not have a good body lan­guage, then hav­ing a good com­po­sure around team­mates, the ref­er­ee, the fans, with the media that is going to be hard for them in their future. That is some­thing we take a lot in con­sid­er­a­tion when sign­ing a play­er. We like to see their char­ac­ter on and off the pitch.

Bruno Costa Head of Scouting at San Jose Earthquakes and PFSA Member

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