There is no hiding the fact that a team such as Red Bull Salzburg have to deal with constant squad overhaul, sometimes each season. As they grow and perform better in European competition their players hit more headlines making Europe’s elite clubs sit up and take note. But how can a club like this maintain dominance in their domestic league as well as improve continentally? They have a defined recruitment model, maintaining core club values and having a well thought out player pathway.
To get an idea of what I should be expecting my different RB squads to look like over the coming seasons I have sumarised what makes up the current squad. Using this rough basis, I will try to replicate the current model as it is proving to be successful at the moment.
• 27-years-old is the average player age
• Three players are over 30-years-old
• 23 years is the average age taking out those over 30
• 67% players are aged 22 or younger
• 11 players are aged 20 or younger
• Six players under 20 out on loan
• 16 different nations represented in the squad from four continents
• 60% of the squad are European nationals
• 20% of the squad are Austrian players
• 34 players in the senior squad, 10 of which are out on loan for the first season
Taking the above facts into account I will try to follow a similar squad management method. The nature of the club leads to constant squad overhaul so having a defined methodology when trying to build a group of players is important. It isn’t rigid, particularly with the countries which I will be recruiting from, but it will serve as a guide.
- Maintain a multicultural squad with scouting from the major footballing continents
- Maintain a low average age of around 23-years-old. (Not including experienced players)
- Keep small core first team squad, around 25 players
The club vision set out by the board is to recruit two types of player. I will look to sign players which are under 20 and are first team ready. These will generally be replacements for players which have left in the window, or who are a better option than what we already have. Aside from this I will look to bring in players who are under 18 and will be brought in to develop. These players will slot into the U-19 side and have an option to be loaned to an affiliate.
After researching into Red Bull Salzburg’s current scouting and recruitment method I believe it to be ideal for what we need in this save. I will aim to follow along with this. The article (Scouting Insight) describes their recruitment method as a “three-lane motorway.” As they put it they look first and foremost to recruit from the surrounding area. This would be from the Red Bull Academy and other youth clubs in Austria. These players can be recruited at any age and will join the clubs youth development program before hopefully progressing to the senior sides. Should Salzburg “get stuck behind a lorry” in other words, there not be enough local talent available, they will change lanes. By this, the scouts will look for players in other European nations and bring them in from the age of 16-years-old.
“We make as much progress as we can in the slow lane. This stands for the surrounding area, in which we try to pick out the best local young footballers with talent days and regional scouting. This talent pool is limited, of course. At some stage we get stuck behind a lorry and have to change lanes to overtake. To accelerate, we sign European talents. From the age of 16, youngsters from within the EU can be signed.”
Signing players at such a young age is a risk in real life, one which the top clubs may not take. A top European side will likely wait for more data on the player to be processed before agreeing to sign the player. This hesitation is what Salzburg do not have, they will take the risk and the rewards will likely speak for themselves. In FM20 I will follow this method and aim to sign youth players based on less information than those needed for the first team. I will take the odd risk on 16/17 year-olds in the hope to beat the bigger European sides.
“European top talents should improve our squad bit by bit in places where we are lacking local talent. They are the icing on the top of the cake – as for the cherries, these can be found in our fictional fast lane.”
Salzburg have a core squad of Austrian players, they add in more European talent to fill positions not available in the Academy. After that, they look to the rest of the world to add the very best young players. From the age of 18 a player can be signed on international transfers (I am not sure if this is in game). At this age Salzburg look to add the exciting players to their squad who they believe will be world class.
Taking all of this into account I will scout and recruit youth players in the following way:
- Rely on the youth generation to fill the squad, aiming to develop a good proportion of future players from there.
- Scout all Austrian players aged 17 or younger, signing those who are better than our current players.
- Scout European players aged 15 – 17 with the aim of bringing in any which are either better than a current player, or filling a position we are lacking. Risks will be taken on these players.
- Scout the players aged 16-18 from the rest of the world. The very best will be brought into the setup no matter their position or current players. Less risk will be taken and these players must be within first team quality.
In the Red Bull article they go for a ‘Belgian bun’ analogy but I prefer to consider a hotdog. The Austrian players are the bun, the core part of the squad. Without a big enough portion of these the dish does not work. On its own it isn’t much but you will survive. Add to this the European players, the sausage, and the dish becomes almost complete. You can have these two things together and be happy and full. It is the addition of the sauce which takes the hotdog to the next level. Mustard, Ketchup or both, it does not matter so much, but they add the main flavour and make you want to come back for more. These are the rest of the world players.
First team recruitment
A great deal of time and scouting has gone into a player before he appears in the Red Bull Salzburg first team. Aside from the above youth recruitment and development, some players are signed to go directly into the first team. These would be the very best players available from all nations. Having said that, the players still must fit with the club and brands core values.
“Every position, from goalkeeper to striker, has their own set of requirements. These focus around a determined playing style, ability to transition quickly and positive mentality.”
Before a player can even be considered for further inspection they must be seen to fit these values and if you like, the club DNA. Some of these, such as signing at a young age, may be obvious, but others not. During FM20 I will ask the scouts to look for the following values when recruiting for the first team, and also try to fit these with the youth recruitment, although it will not be so strict.
- Must be under 23-years-old
- Must have a good level of determination – I will set this at 14 for first team recruitment
- Personality must be one of the favourable ones
- Must be capable of making a positive impact on the first team in their position
After a player pool fitting these core values has been found (currently in real life of around 400,000) the process of scouting can begin. The article linked above goes into further detail but I will be following the below recruitment model for all players aiming to join the first team, or for international players joining over the age of 18.
At the end of this process we should have recruited the best player available to us in their position and improved our first team. If not then the player should have moved on for a profit with the income being reinvested into the scouting and recruitment process.
“What are the reasons for this continued success? Knowledge, quick decisions and a bit of luck. It is not just about the vast wealth of knowledge in the scouting department at the Red Bull Arena, it is the way it is applied and a lucky touch at times, perhaps that little bit extra too. Definitely what helps is thecontinuity and faith in our guiding principles, which we follow every day with great determination.”
To make a success of this save I need to trust the recruitment model and put a lot of faith in the scouts and the staff. I will be looking to maximise each scout available at the start of the save and increase it if possible. I will utilise the affiliate links, not only with FC Liefering as a ‘B Team’ but also the scouting reach of the other clubs. With New York Red Bulls, RB Leipzig, RB Brasil and clubs in Africa we have access to a wide ranging talent pool. But we must also get a lot of luck, finding the rough diamond is not even half the process, they must then start their journey to becoming successful.
In summary and in FM terms I will be signing players in the following way:
Coming next will be details of the affiliates, the current squad and then onto tactical considerations. I wanted to wait for full release to avoid any data changes.
Thanks to @Ted_Redwood for the above graphic. He did not help with the hotdog, that was an Accordingtofm original abomination. Feel free to download the flow chart though and use it in your own save.