Lewis Miley and Luton's coup: SCOUT NOTES, January 3rd
The free newsletter for scouting aficionados is back for 2024.
Happy New Year! After a couple of months away, largely because of our coverage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup which - thankfully or regrettably - slinked into the booze-filled Christmas break, SCOUTED Digest is back.
Except… it’s a little different. We’ve rebranded for the new year - welcome to SCOUT NOTES. This is the must-read newsletter for anyone interested in discovering the next generation: wannabe scouts, analysts, writers, FM junkies, or just good-old scouting aficionados.
SCOUT NOTES is a collection of the players, moments and stories our in-house team have discovered this week. It is, and will always be, totally free.
Subscribe now to have it drop straight into your e-mail inbox every Tuesday. Except today. Today is Wednesday. I know, I’m confused too.
Subscribe now for the best youth football journalism there is on the internet. G’wan.
The Year of Pierre Ekwah
There’ll be a big whiff of the EFL about this edition, and it starts with wafts of Pierre Ekwah.
He plays for Sunderland, a club that has become a SCOUTED goldmine under the stewardship of owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and sporting director Kristjaan Speakman, and I think he can be one of the best players in the Championship in 2024.
There is a lot to like about him, from his top-level athleticism and left-footed progressive passing, to his press-evading carrying and ball-winning legging-inning. He does a lot of the stuff you want from that secondary midfielder, the hybrid profile you pair with a more defensive-pilled partner. He does it in ways that set him apart from most others too, with a style and confidence that can put him on that best-in-the-league pedestal.
He spent a couple of years at INF Clairefontaine, Chelsea (whom he joined for €2 million from Nantes) and West Ham before becoming one of the first signings at youth-obsessed Sunderland just under a year ago, so he has plenty of pedigree behind him.
If he stays healthy, it won’t be long before he’s in the Premier League.
Lewis Miley’s mega minutes
Since making his first league start for Newcastle United in November, 17-year-old Lewis Miley has played 911 minutes across 12 games, starting all but one of them. He’s been thrown in at the deep end - playing season-defining games in the most hectic period of the campaign - and has swum for the most part.
Trust in your own, because they deserve it. What’s the point in even having a youth academy, investing countless hours into local kids from the age of eight and up, if you aren’t willing to use the players it produces? That’s a pertinent question which is applicable to clubs at every level, not just the billion-pound industry that is the Premier League.
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Peterborough United, one of the EFL’s finest
Peterborough United are one of the best run clubs in English football, hands down. They’ve rebuilt their squad to nurture a competitive, cohesive team that plays fun, flowing football. Not only that, they’re in the hunt for promotion at the top of League One with the second-youngest side in the entire EFL.
I love how they do it. They recruit extremely smartly from the levels beneath them, cherry-picking talent from the National League, League Two and League One. They’ll dip into the Premier League as well, catching those that dropout of the elite academies or taking a couple on loan. To round it off, they trust in their own too - academy graduate Harrison Burrows has played more minutes than any other player for them this season.
I also love how they go back to the tried-and-tested wells: non-league Barnet and Exeter City of League Two have supplied them with a cohort of young prospects that are now key starters for the Posh. They’re one of the best at identifying and empowering goalscorers too. Ivan Toney used them as a stepping stone from being a third-tier impact striker to 15-goal-a-season Premier League centre-forward.
I recommend subscribing tofor regular Posh updates.
Óscar Zambrano to Luton Town?
That’s the well-sourced rumour going around. If it happens, it’s a transfer we never would’ve predicted six months ago - and it would never have happened until six months ago. Zambrano had Portugal-or-Brighton-then-big-move-for-big-money written all over him, but now it looks as if the Hatters might be pulling off an extraordinary coup of their own.
For any Luton fans reading, Zambrano is one of the best line-splitting passers we’ve ever watched. That’s not an exaggeration. He lasers the ball through the tighest of gaps with a near-perfect roll. He supplements that outstanding skill with a tenacious off-ball presence. The Prem’s a jump, but one he can stick.
We wrote about him in more detail below, and he’s also #28 on SCOUTED50.
As promised in our last newsletter, we’re making this little section a regular thing. But who am I recommending today? It’s teenage Montenegrin midfielder Vasilije Adžić, of course!
Just look at that profile… you won’t find much better value on your FM24 saves than that, I promise you. You could mould him any which way you want, but he profiles best as a ripsnorting number eight, a do-it-all tour de force.
Adžić is one of our favourites in real life, too, and he’s set to join Juventus this January for a whopping €5 million. That’s a club-changing amount of money for FK Buducnost Podgorica, who’s record sale stands at €1 million from last summer.
Finally… what’s been going on at SCOUTED?
Not much over the past couple of weeks, truth be told. We’ve all taken a little break from the grind of making what was a hobby into a viable small business.
But there is plenty in the pipeline. More SCOUTED50 profiles are on the way, with writing on Gabriel Moscardo, Brazil’s answer to Declan Rice, and Lucas Bergvall, Sweden’s next big thing, to drop imminently. Keep an eye out for those; they will be good.
Before Christmas, Phil and Tom travelled to Manchester to interview one of our favourite young players. We won’t divulge who it is yet (because we want it to be a surprise, and we’re probably not allowed) so all we’ll say is he plays in the Championship. Take your pick of about 600 players.
The SCOUTED Podcast returned just before the festive period, and there’ll be more to come from Joe in the coming months. We’ve also got plans in place to start up a more regular, informal, roundtable-style podcast series to supplement the usual. And paid Notebook subscribers will get some exclusive podcasts during the transfer window, too.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you for supporting us throughout 2023, not least subscribing to Notebook. We really appreciate it. Without you, we’d be leading far more boring lives.
Llew, Tom, Steve, Joe, Phil and Jake
SCOUTED’s Reading List
The best things we consumed this week, and think you should too.
The Athletic’s Charlotte Harpur peels back the layers of scouting in women’s football: why so many top teams go without scouts entirely, and how the rest are coping with the lack of resource.
Scouting Victor Osimhen: Billy Carpenter does what Billy Carpenter does, putting together another must-read long-form piece on the Napoli striker that’s been linked with Premier League moves.
Oliver Young-Myles’ interesting interview with Andreas Schicker, SK Sturm Graz’s sporting director, on how they scout and recruit as a club.
And finally, we helped the tremendous James Allcott put together a list of 24 young talents to watch out for in 2024. He compiled it all into a brilliaint little video, like he does. Watch it here.
Enjoyed that? Subscribe for much more in 2024.