In speaking with So Foot, former Lyon, and now Rennes, sporting director Florian Maurice discussed his philosophy in scouting players after a raft of astute signings helped propel Rennes into the Champions League spots in Ligue 1 this season.
What is your thinking when scouting players? Do you have criteria that are more important than others?
“I’m immediately drawn to technique. When I watch a player, I like to observe his pace, what he gives off. I like graceful players and, as a former striker, I’m attracted to attacking players. I made a mistake by basing my ideas solely on those areas at the start, forgetting the physical aspect. The French championship is special, harder than you think. I made the mistake of looking for players in much less athletic leagues, but that was a learning experience.”
Your transfer windows are often compared to the game ‘Football Manager’. Have you ever player it?
“I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know what it is! Honestly, I don’t know at all. Faitout Maouassa [former Rennes left-back] came to talk to me about it one day to tell me that he’d spotted a great player in the game. (Laughs) He told me a little about the principles of the game, but I’ve never touched it. It seems that clubs use it, I imagine that it could be a source of information.”
Bruno Cheyrou, Lyon’s head of recruitment, thinks you have to have been a professional to know the value of a player. Do you agree?
“For me, that’s wrong. I’ll give you a good example: Gérard Bonneau [Lyon’s former head of youth recruitment] was not a pro and he’s undoubtedly one of the best youth recruiters I have seen. In the recruitment unit at Rennes, there’s no former pro players. It means nothing. Gérard, who is at Dijon now, is a beast, he is a monster in this area. He played in non-league football but he has an eye.”