Let’s face it, your starting lineup might be great right now, but in ten years’ time your players are going to be shuffling around slower than an OAP zombie. To stop your team becoming a squad of pyjama-wearing grandads, you need to invest in youth scouting.
The basics of it work like this: you hire a scout and tell him to go to a certain country and look for youth players. Every month he’ll report back and show you any players he’s found, and - if you think they’re promising enough - you sign them to your academy. When you reckon they’re ready, you can then promote them to your first team.
This seems pretty complex on first glance: which is the right scout to pick, and where should you send him? What sort of player should he look for? And how do you spot the best players on his reports? Well, just follow these quick tips and you’ll be well on your way to proving that you can win things with kids.
When it comes to choosing a scout, it can be confusing. Each scout has a rating out of five in both ‘experience’ and ‘judgment’ - but what do these mean? Well, a scout with good experience will have more players on every report, and he’s also more likely to find the player type you’re looking for - if you’re searching for the next wonderkid goalkeeper, he’s less likely to bring back a bunch of strikers. Secondly, judgment refers to the quality of players the scout will find, with higher judgment obviously producing higher quality players. While you can find top players with bad scouts, it’s much better to buy a top-notch scout if you can afford it.
Once you’ve picked your scout, you need to decide where to send them. Not every country is rated equally, and some give you a better chance of finding great players than others. Brazil and Argentina have the highest chance of finding what the game calls ‘platinum’ players - youth players with the highest OVRs and potentials - so scout there first. It is actually entirely possible to find the next Messi in Australia (one of the lowest rated places to scout - sorry Aussies), but it’s much harder than in Brazil or Argentina.
If you like, you can also tell your scout to look for a specific type of player, such as a pacey winger or a creative playmaker. Somewhat frustratingly, you can’t actually search for a certain position (apart from goalkeepers), and different types will bring back players in several positions. So Defensive Minded will find you centre backs, full backs and defensive midfielders. Playmaker will find you central midfielders but sometimes wingers. Use a bit of lateral thinking and it soon becomes clear what each player type is likely to get you. Note also that by some weird quirk, searching for the Attacker player type won’t actually find you any strikers - instead, try Physically Strong or Technically Gifted.
When players first appear on your scouting reports, they will have two stat ranges - Overall and Potential. The former refers to how good the player currently is, while the latter predicts how good he will eventually become. When deciding whether to sign a player to your youth academy, you should focus on potential - a player with a low overall (OVR) but a high potential will rapidly improve thanks to his strong future ability, whereas a player in the opposite situation will likely start out strong but quickly stall.
As a final note, other teams can also ‘scout’ their own players. When a player retires, he is replaced by what basically amounts to a younger version of himself, playing in the same division as the retired player (but not necessarily for the same side). These players are known as regens. Keep an eye out for high quality players who are on the verge of retiring - next season, search for young players of the same nationality and playing in the same division and you could find yourself a cheap future superstar.