All hail Graham Carr!
The Newcastle United chief scout has been all the rage recently with 'le Toon' raiding France during the January transfer window while spending the equivalent of an average English midfielder.
Considering the relatively low wages on offer in Ligue 1 (PSG aside), young French players will always jump at the chance to ply their trade in the Premier League (Loic Remy, anyone?).
Moussa Sissoko has made an immediate impact after joining from Toulouse for a fee believed to be as low as £1.8m, scoring two in the 3-2 win against Chelsea and providing a stunning assist on his debut against Aston Villa.
Fellow Frenchmen Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara also arrived in the north-east as Alan Pardew's side bid to steer away from the relegation zone. Those four, along with Sissoko, were signed for a combined fee believed to be around £16m. Prudent indeed.
Carr was said to be responsible for these signings, along with the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tioté, Tim Krul, Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cissé who helped Newcastle to a 5th place finish last season. The scout has extensive knowledge of the French and Dutch leagues, with Carr himself stating he scouted Tioté for four years before the Ivorian eventually signed in 2010 for £3.5m.
Carr is a vital part of Newcastle's backroom staff - why else would the club offer him an eight-year deal? But my concern lies with the rest of the Premier League clubs and why they're not behaving in a similar fashion. I mean, it's hardly rocket science - buy good players for the cheapest possible price, non?
Of course Newcastle aren't the only club acting sensibly when it comes to the transfer market - Swansea and West Brom are also ideal examples of prudent and practical scouting. Signings like Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-Yueng were made for nominal fees at the Liberty Stadium, while Baggies midfielder Claudio Yacob was signed on a free from Argentina. Both sides have benefited as proven by their current league positions.
The sheer magnitude of money involved in the Premier League has seemingly brought with it apathy and laziness. Why put the hard yards in scouting young and hungry players when you can simply knick overrated English talent from other teams in your league for a small fortune?
Take Liverpool, why send scouts to France, Holland, Belgium etc when you can watch Match of the Day once-a-week and sign Jordan Henderson on the back of it?
Okay that's a bit harsh, Henderson has improved as of late. But £18m, really?
It speaks volumes that Graham Carr's name is often touted as a scouting genius for simply doing his job. In that case - what the hell are the other scouts doing?
It seems the need for instant success has put several clubs off signings players from around the world despite the prices likely to be far lower. Take Stoke for example - on the whole they've opted to sign low-risk players that were already proven in the Premier League. I'm thinking Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, Robert Huth etc. That's fine, but it usually comes at a price.
Given that ludicrous salaries are handed out without a moments notice, you'd imagine all established Premier League clubs would already have an extensive scouting network in place. It should merely be an expectation - the status quo - not something that comes as a surprise.