The Hearts ploy to sign a clone of French World Cup winner - and how it got them a future internationalist

A key member of Hearts’ backroom staff has revealed how the club used statistics to sign a midfielder with similar attributes to French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante.
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Supported by StatsBomb’s advanced performance data and analytics, Hearts sought a player in Kante’s mould with the same energy and tenacity to play in the middle of the park. Jake Sheard, head of first-team performance analysis at Tynecastle Park, explained that the process eventually resulted in Cammy Devlin joining from Newcastle Jets last summer.

Statistical analysis is used regularly by the Edinburgh club to help scouts, coaches and management identify potential new recruits. Devlin cost less than £100,000 from the Jets and signed a three-year contract. He quickly became a regular in maroon, making his senior debut for Australia in September this year before being named in Graham Arnold’s Socceroos squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

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Speaking to, Sheard explained the background to Devlin’s arrival in Scotland. “Whilst not directly in my remit, StatsBomb plays an integral role within our player recruitment department,” he said. “We use StatsBomb data throughout our scouting and recruitment process headed up by Will Lancefield, from the identification of talent to the end decision on which target player is more suitable for our playing style.

“StatsBomb’s data allows us to flag high-performing players from leagues around the world where we don’t have live scouts, which enables us to be more efficient with our video scouting and that allows us to push the right players higher up our process.

“It also allows us to cross-check our scouting data against StatsBomb data to see if there are differences between the eyes of the scouts and what the data says. This is vital to challenging biases and understanding what the data is telling us. We chose StatsBomb as they have the richest data that allows us to identify players more suited to our playing style, which is vital as it brings more trust and buy-in from our coaches and the club’s sporting director.

“A great example of where data was used at the start of our process was last summer. We were in the market for a central midfielder who profiled similarly to N’Golo Kanté. Using StatsBomb allowed us to flag Cammy Devlin, who we eventually went on to sign.”

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