Top Soccer Scouting Books [Talent Identification 2024]

Now that you have read the best soccer books to your toddler and have seen them score in your backyard, it is time to make them a global superstar. There is so much noise in the world of scouting that has been influenced by some horrible movie characters – in every movie ever made, the scout and the agent are bad. Well, some of them definitely are, but for any player, parent, or coach, it is important to understand the basics of the world in which the scouts and agents live. Identifying good players is already hard, but finding how they stand out with their personality, not just appearance, can be very difficult. Of course, platforms like Skillshark can help identify and systemize talent analysis. Fortunately, the best soccer scouting books have variety in them, showing different aspects of it. One is talent identification and spotting. Another aspect is the whole machinery of the scouting soccer system and the business around it. Finally, there is something to be said about the connection between the scouts and the clubs and coaches they are scouting for.

What are the best soccer scouting books?

Unlike some other topics, here the books are truly diverse. We recommend searching through all of them to look for the niche you are interested in. Also, assuming that you’ve read one of them, doesn’t mean that another book will offer similar information. Let us go through them and you pick which one will give you the most!

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Anatomy of a football scout by JonCotterill

If you can read only one book on the topic, this is it! Jon Cotterill lives in Sao Paulo for the last two decades, so he has been at the forefront of the biggest recruitment system in the world. Bringing players from Brazil, the largest soccer nation in the world, to Europe has been at the core of the scouting system. He covers the traditional connections with coaches and recruiters, the modernization of data analysts and video analysis, and even the psychology of it. It is a very thorough book, written by a journalist that can really convey information through storytelling.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Although not specifically about soccer scouting, this book explores the concept of talent development and how it can be cultivated. It delves into the science behind skill acquisition and provides insights that can be applied to scouting and player development. There are case studies in the book on how skills are aquired in various sports and it is a fascinating subject. In fact, we would recommend this book to everybody who tries to understand the process of learning, education and human development. If you are a coach and try to create your youth practice plan, or a parent try to evaluate the which soccer team to join, this is the book to read. Cannot recommend this book enough!

The Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin

This book offers a detailed and fascinating exploration of the world of soccer scouting. It follows the journeys of several scouts and provides insights into their roles, challenges, and the crucial work they do in identifying and nurturing talent. It is interview-based and it is the best book to get as close as possible to the core of what soccer scouting is and the challenges that soccer scouts face every day in the world. They are a bit obsessed and the author does a fantastic job to capture their stories in a genuine way. It’s published 10 years ago, so some of the case studies are about players still active, like Raheem Sterling. It’s heavily focused on the UK, so it doesn’t paint a global picture, but still – a fantastic read!

The Football Code: The Science of Predicting the Beautiful Game by James Tippett

“You cannot Moneyball your way through soccer, this is not baseball!!!” is what we hear so many times. Guess who was saying that you cannot statistically evaluate their players? Baseball scouts! This book examines the statistical and analytical aspects of soccer scouting and player evaluation. It explores the use of data and advanced analytics in identifying talented players and predicting match outcomes. Look at any of the large soccer clubs today and you can see that they have data scientists working on their teams. They do opposition research before games, instead of only coaches looking through videos. They do player and team performance analysis for their own team. Most importantly, they help the scouting team in recruiting the best players out there. This book shows that and shows that the biases in soccer a so big that the data-driven approach is vital to gain an edge in today’s world.

The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures by Gianluca Vialli and Gabriele Marcotti

While not solely focused on scouting, this book provides a comprehensive view of Italian soccer and its scouting methods. It discusses the importance of scouting in Italy and provides an inside look at the country’s soccer culture. The authors are more than relevant to talk about the topic. Vialli is a legendary soccer player and manager (player-manager at Chelsea at age 33), while Marcotti is a famous sportswritter. To further the quality of the book, they have asked the best soccer minds of the world to pitch in, such as Wnger, Ferguson, Mourinho, Capello, Lippi… This book explores the soccer scouting at the highest level and we highly recommend the book if you are interested in that world.

Provided you don’t kiss me: 20 Years with Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton

A captivating memoir written by Duncan Hamilton, chronicling his time as a journalist covering legendary soccer manager Brian Clough. The wonder that Clough did is unprecedented and will never be repeated, and the value of scouting back in his days was underrated but crucial for his success. It is amazing how a great pair of a coach and a scout can do wonders for the team. Hamilton provides an intimate and revealing account of his close relationship with Clough. The enigmatic personality and managerial genius of one of the most iconic figures in British football history is what most of the book is about. That is the only reason why it’s so low on our list of scouting books. It is an amazing read that you should definitely have in your personal library of best soccer coaches’ biographies.

Decision time

These books provide different perspectives on soccer scouting, from the experiences of scouts themselves to the science and analytics behind talent identification. They offer valuable knowledge and understanding of the intricate world of player scouting in soccer.

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