I remember a sharp intake of breath when I looked up Eboue Kouassi’s playing record when he joined Celtic three years ago: 10 appearances in the Russian league, where he arrived as an 18-year-old from Ivory Coast. There is always an assumption that the club have scouted beyond YouTube clips, but with only 10 appearances, the opportunity to go from settling into southern Russia, to solid performer and then promising talent are limited.
Celtic moved early, too early, as it turned out, but there would have been an acknowledgement of the gamble before it took place. With most European leagues blanket-scouted, our resources moved to the periphery, and even then, if you take too long to make your mind up, you lose.
Feedback loops are important in scouting. When scouts make good recommendations, clubs back their next call. “He has an eye for a player” and all that. But no one’s vision is faultless. Whoever put their name to Eboue will have since suffered the feedback loop consequences.