Opinion: European Soccer may Need a Draft

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A draft format in soccer would result in greater competitiveness at the professional level.

Soccer players coming out onto the playing field

In soccer, the teams that stand out year after year in each league can be counted on one hand and are usually the ones with the most purchasing power. The rest are completely ignored. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Opinión: Un formato de draft en el fútbol profesional sería genial

What is a draft format?

The draft format is a way to recruit new players that are implemented by leagues like the NBA and the NFL. Every year, teams in these leagues have the opportunity to sign players who have never been in them.

Both the NBA and the NFL have small differences in the way their draft works, but the general idea is the same: teams are ordered from worst to best according to the past regular season to select new players. This means that the weakest teams will always (or almost always) have the opportunity to sign the best new talents first to reinforce themselves.

This format has several benefits. The first is the media attention that falls on the team. Cameras tend to focus on the best player in the draft (regardless of how he or she plays) during his/her debut year, so this brings more money to weaker teams, who usually struggle to attract some attention.

Indirectly, the NBA draft ensures that the power of the teams always fluctuates, and that the same teams are not at the top year after year.

Why would this help soccer?

Let's not go around the bush: soccer (especially European soccer) is dominated by money. The teams that stand out year after year in each league can be counted on one hand and are usually the ones with the biggest wallet. The rest are completely ignored.

A draft would alleviate this somewhat. Being able to choose from among the best young talents would give smaller teams that often struggle to attract young people to their academies.

This would also allow small teams to negotiate more effectively for big names. Trading a good player for two or three proven future prospects is an attractive offer for any team.

Lastly, the storytelling potential that a draft allows is something that the soccer media could take advantage of quite a bit. A first-time chosen prospect who fails to reach his potential is an engaging story. On the other side of the coin, a young man who is chosen from the bottom of his class and makes a name for himself as a professional is also a juicy story. The very event of the draft draws the eyes of fans, who are excited to see the new talent on their teams.

Also read: 5 Colombian Soccer Players who Play in Exotic Leagues

For example, much of the legend of basketball player Manu Ginobilli is based on the fact that the Argentine was underrated by various teams in the draft. He was chosen number 57 in his class and still won 4 NBA championships .