‘Just stalk them’ – The Coventry City transfer that was five years in the making
One of the secrets of Coventry City’s recent rise back up the Football League has been impressive recruitment.
With an established scouting department firmly in place, theare reaping the rewards of months, and, in some cases, years of hard hard work and monitoring.
The latest transfer window has seen 11 new signings to date, with the likes ofhaving already earned rave reviews for his early showings for ’s men.
But did you know that the 23-year-old Dutch/Brazilian was five years in the making to reach this point in his career at Coventry?
Here, head of recruitment Chris Badlan gives an insight to the long game he often plays in order to get his man, and in Hamer’s case, a player who could have been a Wolverhampton Wanderers or Norwich City target this summer.
“Most players we look at we’ve known about for a while,” explained City’s recruitment chief, who started out as head of emerging talent at Wolves before becoming head of European scouting at Carrow Road.
“The odd one comes from nowhere but Gus is one who I saw play when I was at Wolves as head of Under-23s recruitment when we played Feyenoord Under-19s.
“Gustavo played in the game and was just a really good footballer, and one that I’ve just monitored and tracked.
“We watched a lot of him and then once we were in at Coventry things moved forward and we kept getting reports.
“Statistically he was fantastic and you could see from some of the things that were coming out towards the end of last season that he was one of the most creative players in Europe, and that was from a wing-back position.”
believes that the fact that Hamer was played out of what he feels is his more natural position played right into City’s hands.
“He played a lot of games at the back end of last season as a wing-back for PEC Zwolle but I have only ever known him as a holding/central midfielder,” he said, speaking exclusively to CoventryLive.
“So it was quite good that some people might have been looking at Hamer as a right-back rather than a central midfielder.
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“But because we had previous knowledge of him we already knew what he was. It was just a question of whether he was the right type for us, the right character and did he have the right attributes for us.
“Technically, is he going to be a Championship player for us and things like that. And then once we knew there was an opportunity to sign him it was one we just jumped on.
Just stalk them
“And then you just stalk them until they sign their contract!”
So what gave City the edge in attracting the widely admired player to the club?
“There’s always interest in good players but the thing Gus has said all along is he had a really good feeling about Coventry,” he explained.
“He always wanted to try in England and it was a good platform for him to do that to showcase his talents.
“He’s a very, very good player so there was a lot of interest in him but hopefully we are going to see the benefits of that this season.
“He’s also a very good person and a very loyal person, and once he’d made his mind up in saying, ‘this is the right project for me, and what I want,’ it was always just a matter of whether we could get a deal done.
“The level of interest and level of clubs interested was the issue from our side, not his desire to come here.
“Financially, we can get out bid by a number of clubs domestically and abroad, so it was a matter of whether it was right for Coventry to bring the player in.”
Pushed boat out
The Sky Blues pushed the boat out, paying a reported £1.3m – their biggest transfer fee for over 12 years since they shelled out £1.2m for Freddy Eastwood.
The trick, it seems, to seamless and ever improving recruitment is forward planning.
That was certainly the case when City knew they would have to replace the void left by Liam Walsh on his return to Bristol City in the summer.
“I’m not sitting here and saying Gus is Liam Walsh’s replacement because he’s not,” said Badlan.
“Gus is his own player, as Liam Walsh is.
“But when you look at some of the statistical things that Walshy brings to the team, as well as with your eye, wanting to get on the ball and pass, wanting to start from deep and get forward etc, etc.
“We saw that in Gus. He is a deep lying play-maker. He wants to get on the ball, receive under pressure, play off both feet…
“His style of play suits what we are as a football club.”
Ticked every box
He added: “We have a player profile for every single position and then within that, whether it’s data or through the eye, we have key attributes that the position has to have. And Gus ticked every single one of those boxes that we were after.
“And then when you look at him and the intensity of his game; I think people have seen he’s not afraid to leave his foot in at times.”
And it’s those sorts of qualities that have ensured Hamer has slotted straight into the Championship and English style of football.
“He’s got a very English nature to the way that he plays,” agreed Badlan.
“It’s the South American in him.
“They have got that hunger and fire in their belly. So you could see that he could transition to English football.
“But we also wanted to bring Ben Sheaf in as well because he does things a little bit different to Gus and a little bit different to Kelly, but we feel they can all play with each other within that.”