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Why recruiters are now the hottest property in professional football

Thanks to the sport’s worldwide presence, the focus on recruitment today is higher than ever

Recruitment has always been an important factor in football; indeed, it is one of the game’s few constants from its early days. One basic but huge factor comes in the form of a so-called ‘big name signing’, which in turn equals higher shirt sales and can sometimes earn a club more than it actually paid for the player.

The club selling the big name normally comes out of the deal with an obscene amount of money, of course, with some relying on a high income from transfers to keep the club running.

With this in mind, there has never been a higher demand for someone capable of unearthing the next high-value star, especially if they can find them for a low fee and before anyone else. This is not an easy task and in truth most recruiters will have to sieve through a certain amount of useless rocks before they find a diamond. If they really strike it lucky and discover a couple at the same time, the club’s expectations can be dramatically exceeded.

Ask any Leicester City fan and they will tell you that whilst their recent Premier League title win was down to the players and manager, they will also make sure Steve Walsh – the head of recruitment at Leicester before he left the club earlier this year – gets a very special mention. The reason they hold Walsh in such high regard is down to his spectacular success in unearthing much of the talent within Leicester’s championship-winning squad.

Jamie Vardy, a previously unheard of striker at Fleetwood, was recruited by Walsh and has seen his career take off. From a football league nobody to a Premier League winner, not to mention scoring for England in Euro 2016, Vardy is one of Steve Walsh’s biggest success stories.

There are plenty of others; for example, Riyad Mahrez lit up the Premier League last season, while N’Golo Kante was seen as the best defensive midfield player in the entire league. Both were plucked from obscurity in the French second division by Walsh.

Most major clubs now tend to have some form of transfer committee, with every potential transfer discussed by a variety of different people before it is given the green light. It is therefore easy to see why recruiters capable of finding the next Vardy, Mahrez and Kante are now in such high demand.

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