Football clubs have been known to use scouting software, such as Wyscout.com, to help identify signing targets as they attempt to stay one step ahead of the competition and scour every corner of the globe in order to unearth a gem.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out as raw statistics and edited clips can give a false impression of a player — flop left-back Rafal Grzelak, for instance, was second in the Polish league in terms of dribbling percentage last season — but they can often provide a manager or director of football with a good indication of what a player’s strengths and weaknesses are.
This writer is not pretending to know exactly how Hearts became aware of Haring, but what’s certain is that, had they typed his name into Wyscout, they immediately would have liked what they saw.
Haring may be coming from the second tier of Austrian football, but fans can be reassured with the knowledge that, as the advanced stats would indicate, he appears to have been one of the better defenders at that level.
He was fourth in interceptions made
Haring cut out opposing attacks on 232 occasions with Ried last term, which indicates strong anticipation skills and a sense for danger. While his 7.02 interceptions per 90 minutes would only have him 16th overall in the Ladbrokes Premiership, it’s still a better mark than the rest of the Tynecastle centre-back corps, Christophe Berra (6.38), John Souttar (6.55) and Aaron Hughes (6.78).
He was third in total aerial duels
Opposing strikers will need to be particularly brave when they take on Hearts next season as Levein’s side has two centre-backs willing to, almost literally, put their neck on the line to clear possession. Haring didn’t quite match Berra’s incredible 422 aerial battles from last term (the highest mark for a centre-back in Scotland by far) but he still finished in the top three of his league.
The downside is that he’s not quite as dominant as his new captain in those duels. His 63.42 success rate is similar to Souttar, who’s around league average.
He was fourth best in percentage of defensive duels won
Haring won the one-on-one battle with opposing attackers 37.44 per cent of the time. It may not sound like much, but that success rate would have been the best for any non-Celtic player in the Scottish top flight last term. It means he’s robust, stands his ground and is quick in the tackle. He does have a tendency to get booked though, leading all players in the Austrian second tier with 14.
He’s used to having the ball at his feet
The 25-year-old ranked very high in passing categories. He was second in the Erste Liga total passes, first in passes to the final third and first in progressive passes (those played forward). Ried were not a long team — they sat second last for long passes — but they were direct.
He should be walking into a similar situation at Hearts. Contrary to popular opinion, Levein’s team were the same as Ried in terms of long passes attempted — second last in the league. The big difference between the sides is that Ried were second for total possession, Hearts were eighth, while the Tynecastle side were dead last for passes to the final third, showing that the problem wasn’t so much the length of pass but the inability to do build cohesively and move play into attacking areas.
He’s durable and has played consistently
It’s preferable to get someone who’s in good form with plenty of recent game time under their belt. Going the other way can be dicey. You can hope a move to a lower level will help a former star rediscover his mojo, but often you can be left with a high earner unable to regain lost confidence.
That shouldn’t be the case with Haring. Of the 36 league games in an Austrian second tier season, he played 35 and 32 times in the last two campaigns. He was one of the first names on the teamsheet and should come to Tynecastle with the determination to cement a spot alongside Berra and Souttar in what looks likely to be a preferred 3-5-2 formation.