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A Guide to SCOUTED50
How we built the list, our panel of voters, and our plans for the year.
SCOUTED50 is our answer to moving the beloved Handbooks online.
We hope it accomplishes two things. First, we hope it’s fun and engaging: we thought having some of our most trusted friends vote on their favourite players would be a fresh, if slightly unscientific way of delivering our annual list, and fit perfectly with moving from print to online.
Secondly, we want it to serve as a resource. If you bought a Handbook in the olden days, you knew you were buying a piece of work that would remain relevant for months to come, and only improve in usefulness as the players it detailed grew throughout the season.
SCOUTED50 will be the same kind of reference. Now it’s online, we have even more freedom to turn it into a living, breathing document.
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One game, one resource
We hope we’ve built something worthy of a bookmark.
SCOUTED50 is a page that will grow and evolve throughout the season. Our trademark profiles will return; each will be collated on the main SCOUTED50 page. Our aim is to profile every player on the list this year, turning what is today just a list into the destination resource for following youth football this year.
If a player appears in another piece of work or coverage we do, we’ll also add that to SCOUTED50; so, if a player appears at a youth tournament we scout or in a long-form story we tell, you’ll be able to read it all in the same place.
We’re also planning to write routine updates to the list: we’ll reflect, add commentary on the list’s best performers and examine the calls we got right (as well as those we got wrong). SCOUTED50 UPDATES will release periodically through the season, and conclude with a final issue once the last ball has been kicked.
How did we build the list?
Our criteria were threefold: first, they must have been born in 2003 or later; secondly, they must have a reasonable chance at significant first-team impact this season; third, we considered their overall ceiling. These were also the criteria we put to our list of experts to consider when voting.
We’ll level with you: there wasn’t any particular science to it. We’re sure plenty of brainy people could’ve concocted an algorithm to produce an optimal list of 50 breakout stars, but we’ve built a reputation here for our instincts; the list has the distinct SCOUTED vibe we’ve curated by being real human beings watching real football, not just following the numbers.
We considered putting a hard cap on minutes played as a key criterion, for instance, but decided against it - some minutes aren’t like other minutes. We used a lot of ‘feel’ to put this list together. And although those SCOUTED vibes are great and we’re proud of where they lead us, they undeniably come with their own biases and blind spots.
Our method yielded some notable omissions, but we think the list is pretty rounded on the whole. If you don’t agree, check your own vibe.
How did the voting work?
This bit’s extremely scientific. Here’s what we did: we put the full list in front of each of our experts and asked them to pick a top ten based on our criteria above.
Then we allocated each rank a number of points: first pick got 10 points, the second 9, and so on. Then we added those points up to give each player a score.
This is complex stuff so I’ll forgive the glaze on your eyes. Football analysis, ey? More algebra than sport.
The real SCOUTED is the friends we made along the way. And after a decade of doing this, we’re honoured to have many: including analysts, scouts and journalists from across the globe.
We asked a broad selection to vote on the list. They included:
Joe Donnohue - SCOUTED & The Yorkshire Evening Post journalist
Jake Entwistle - SCOUTED & Squawka
Phil Costa - SCOUTED journalist, formerly OneFootball
Josh Hobbs - Recruitment analyst and scout, formerly of Notts County
Alex Stewart - Head of Content at Analytics FC, formerly Tifo
Sam Tighe - Freelance journalist with Sky Sports, ESPN, Tifo & WhoScored
Jamie Kemp - Opta & LaPausa Podcast
Bence Bocsák - Freelance journalist with the Guardian & Goal
Alex Collings - Potshot Podcast & Everybody Eats podcast
Kees van Hemmen - Devils in the Details podcast
Jack Collins - RanksFC, The Athletic & Livescore
Billy Carpenter - Edu’s BBQ substack
David Cartlidge - Editor at ESPNUK
Mohamed Mohamed - MoeSquare, author of ‘Golden Boys of Yesteryear’
Danny Corcoran - Freelance journalist with AnfieldWatch & PureFitbaw
Ronan Manning - Freelance analyst with a focus on emerging talent
Lee Scott - Chief Scout at Velez CF
Orlando Valman - The Chelsea Spot Podcast
Álex Martínez - Emerging talent scout & data analyst at Driblab
Jeroen Tegelaers - Co-founder of Target Scouting
We asked more but they didn’t have the time to provide their ranking, or the confidence to do so with such a niche list of players. You have to be a certain kind of nerd to have heard of all of them, let alone watched them. So congrats on making the list, nerds.
We hope you enjoy SCOUTED50 and find it useful throughout the year to come. We’re looking forward, as ever, to discovering what we get wrong.
It feels great to be profiling players again after two years removed from the Handbooks. We miss them - but we’re going to build a worthy successor here, online.
Stay tuned for SCOUTED50 updates.
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