New York Red Bulls’ talent identification is … really good
By now, the rhythms of the story should be familiar. In his recent weekly column on transfer rumors for Expressen, writer Daniel “Disco” Kristoffersson has revealed that AIK full-back Eric Kahl is being chased by a host of Belgian and Italian clubs. The Swedish youth international is expected to be sold this summer for “millions”.
New York Red Bulls fans remember Kahl. In February, New York reportedly attempted to sign the 19-year-old, causing a small flurry of bad press in Swedish media. The club’s alleged transfer offer of $ 600,000 was deemed “shameful” as AIK valued the player at around $ 2,400,000. With a contract running until December 2022, the Swedish company was in no rush to sell, a patience that seems to have paid off.
Kahl’s unconfirmed failed chase – a clear fit for gegenpress filling a need for the roster’s most important position – continued a troubling pattern for the Red Bulls front office, immediately coming on the heels of the mess involving another talent Swedish Allsvenskan, Sead Hakšabanović. A frenzied series of rumors and charges would ultimately go nowhere, simply because it doesn’t offer enough money. These high-profile setbacks provide fodder for the sometimes right, sometimes false, but still entertaining narratives surrounding the club and its perceived incompetence. Where they really fall is somewhere in the middle: a definite disappointment but also a storm in a teapot given that the overwhelming majority of blocked transfer transactions never reach the mediaphere.
A more optimistic view of the recent update on Kahl’s course is that the Red Bulls are not only identifying good players, but trying to make moves ahead of other clubs. Any scouting department can find talented transfer targets in the Europa League or in the various continental youth competitions and elite showcases. New York continues to chase good players before they reach the biggest gaze, even though the most publicized have failed. Perhaps the proper criticism is not to miss out on the stars of the immediate future, but rather not to pursue them soon enough compared to the current budget, which seems slightly more suited to medium and long term projects.
Think about last summer’s transfer saga involving forward Ivan Toney. The Red Bulls were unable to beat Brentford for his signing as Peterborough accepted an important offer for the prolific forward. Since joining the league he has scored 29 goals in 40 appearances and is now on the radar of several Premier League clubs. If not completing the transfer is a setback, New York deserves some recognition for their scouting and concerted effort to sign him ahead of his real breakout season. The club have been mocked in some corners for trying to overspend on a lower league player as the American football community is forever locked in a cycle of worship and mockery of the English game.
Toney isn’t the only former unannounced transfer target to warrant the initial interest. In July, Bild reported that Red Bulls are trying to sign free agent forward Daniel-Kofi Kyereh. The 24-year-old was adequate but unspectacular to turn Wehen Wiesbaden, the former employer of New York City Scout leader Paul Fernie. Due to travel issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was not allowed to travel to the United States and visit the club, choosing instead to sign with 2. Bundesliga FC. Saint Pauli.
Since moving, Kyereh has set the league on fire, scoring nine goals and assisting nine more. His success should come as no surprise as they are not the golden Red Bulls of years gone by. The front office, in particular the scouting service, was designed to support a global search for young talent, discovered just before or just before the precipice of a breakthrough. While not much has been written about the former Premier League executive who made the unprecedented decision to lead an MLS club, a lot can be learned by delving into his past media appearances.
In an interview last year on the Molineux view podcast, Sport Manager Kevin Thelwell provided a general flowchart of his team-building process at Wolverhampton Wanderers. A manager with an established tactical style with well defined roles in training would require specific improvements from the team. His job then was to find players that met those specs and narrow the roster down to one or two before pitching them as options. After receiving the approval, the transfer targets would be pursued. This back-and-forth communicative working relationship has likely been replicated in New York City, with Gerhard Struber having a totally unambiguous system.
What can we expect from more than one executive whose intense manager vetting process rivals those designed to select political candidates? “From a recruiting perspective it makes it a lot simpler when you have a head coach who is very clear about the profiles and positional attributes of each space because that means you are able to drive the data. and that you are able to lead the recruiting. research in specific areas, ”said Thelwell on the podcast episode that really everyone should be listening to at some point. “For example, we were offered players, and we could say, ‘Yeah, he’s a good player, but he’s not a good player for us.’ Because we have been very specific about the types of players and the types of profiles that we are looking for… I cannot think of a time when we signed a player that any head coach would not have wanted.
The Red Bulls have signed 12 signings in the current transfer window and things look far from over for Thelwell in the short and long term. Even the success and increased interest in failed additions indicate an improvement in transactions, within reason when one recognizes that they are, in fact, failed additions. The current mix of scouting and coaching proves that it is much easier for a club to get what they want when there is a meticulously defined system in place and organizational direction to identify the most suitable players. However, sometimes desired goals can be a bit out of the price bracket, whether due to a rigid resource structure or a principled refusal to overspend. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can’t sign a Swede… or something like that.