Salzburg and Metz: Teaching the rest of Europe how to find African talent
Many clubs find immense success by picking the right pockets of talent in Africa to scout.
For Red Bull Salzburg, there's Mali: Diadie Samassékou, Amadou Haidara, Youba Diarra, Moussa Diakité.
For Metz, there's Senegal: Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mané, Ismaïla Sarr, Papiss Cissé, Diafra Sakho.
There are several different ways a club can zoom into one pocket of Africa and scout talent.
If you're Salzburg, you can go scout different hotbeds of talent in Mali like Yeelen and Bamako. Or, you can set up an umbrella program that just collects talent like Metz did with Génération Foot.
With the help of Metz, Génération Foot enrolls 120 youngsters in Senegal between the ages of 12 and 18 in the program, giving them a weekly allowance, a place to eat, sleep, learn, train, and become prepared for the demands of European football.
Above all, they try to prepare the kids for Europe. So many kids don't get that education and inevitably fail when they reach Europe.
Areas of the campus are named after former prodigies, and each year, Metz take at least two of their talents to France to prepare them for Europe.
It's altruistic capitalism: Metz gives these players a free education and housing and training, and they get to reap the rewards of their finest talents before selling them for profits.
The next talent to emerge from Génération Foot will be Papa Ndiaga Yade, just turned 19 in January. With a solid striking technique, he's capable of dragging out defenders with his hold-up play, and he's decent 1v1 despite his physique. Ndiaga boasts quick feet and good vision, but he has to improve his crossing if he's to follow the footsteps of the likes of Mané and Sarr in becoming the next forward to leapfrog Génération Foot to Metz.
Salzburg, on the other hand, have found success in African talents since scouting Guinean midfielder Naby Keïta, now of Liverpool, from Istres, who would soon be relegated to the third tier of French football.
From then, they haven't looked back, but they've gone to Mali for their talent scouting. While Keïta was discovered in France, Samassékou and Haidara were purchased from Malian academy JMG Bamako. Bamako has produced several intriguing midfielders such as Cheick Doucouré of Lens and Yves Bissouma of Brighton.
They played for Salzburg's academy team Liefering before becoming key players in Salzburg under manager Marco Rose, as the side rose to the Europa League semi-finals last season, and would've made it to the final had it not been for controversial calls that went in Marseille's favour.
Haidara has since left for RB Leipzig, just as Keïta before him, where he is expected to replaced the Guinean's attacking output. Samassékou, on the other hand, is still at Salzburg, but at this rate, he'll be getting a big move soon, too.
Salzburg's scouting stretches across Africa as well. In 2017, they picked up Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka from Zambian club Kafue Celtic.
Whether you span the entire continent or set up an entire umbrella program in one city, if you want to find out how to snap up young, promising African footballers, study Salzburg and Metz's success stories.