Written by: Rohit Rajeev
With a strong commercialization of the game, the money involved has increased. TV rights, endorsements, matchday income, apparels, etc has increased revenue of the club nearly 4 fold. Transfer fees and wage demands of players has increased accordingly. Until 2009 Zidane’s 69 Million transfer from Juventus to Madrid was a world record until Madrid smashed it with a 90 Million transfer for Ronaldo. We then had the 100 Million records breached with bale and then PSG sending shockwaves with 222 Million for Neymar.
Clubs that cannot match the economic outlay of the big spenders, therefore, need an alternative to attract top talent and therefore they rely on their scouting and academy structure. Teams like Ajax, Benfica, Porto, River Plate, Dortmund rely a lot on their scouting to compete ultimately with the players moving on to bigger clubs for huge sums and hence giving money to re-invest.
One such club that has relied solely on their scouting is RB Salzburg. Responsible for the production of Haaland, Mane, Naby Keita, Szoboszlai, Upamecano, Haidara, Samassekou they focus on a lot on their academy to power them through. In this piece, we take a look at why Salzburg academies are one of the best in the world.
The Salzburg academy is based on near the Salzburg River on a structure that covers 12000 meters which have 6 football pitches, a football /dining hall, a weights room, an athletics room, and an outdoor fitness area. The academy’s boarding school has 88 double rooms to house inmates. All areas are equipped with motion sensors which are analyzed by computer specialists.
The Academy houses 200 players from 7 countries trained by 120 specialists. According to CEO Manfred Pamminger “ The game and the training philosophy. It’s set in stone with us. Every single coach, every single employee, and every single player operates according to the idea. That’s the key to our success”. He is, of course, talking about the playing style employed by all red bull clubs instituted by previous technical director Ralf Rangnick. The vision of the academy is not a season or 2 but it is for 2025.
Pamminger said “It’s the pressing, counter-pressing and quick switching that becomes a part of every player’s psyche, but also the passion shared by everyone on and off the pitch and philosophy brought to life with state-of-the-art technology”
However, success has been instant. The Salzburg U-19 team was the 2017 Uefa Youth league champions and 2018 Europa league finalists eventually losing to Marseille.
Let us take a look at the state of the art equipment used in Salzburg academy
The Athletics Room
The athletics room is to test the speed of the players at various levels of resistance and pressure. A sort of belt is fitted to the player’s waist with an electrical cord that sends data to computers and a programmer analyses the speed of the runs at various pressure situations which can be maximized or minimized via the computer. It helps the analyst and the player to under what stress conditions he can hit top speed. Speed is an important aspect that is required for Salzburg’s game.
Players need gymnasium’s to keep up their fitness but different players have different requirements. Players are analyzed via analysis done through motion sensors and before entering the gym the player has to log into the tablet and download the program designed for him.
There are 13 workstations in the gym for the players to work out. They can compare their performances. Motion sensors capture their performances in watts toanalyse the power applied to the various dumb-bells and barbells
Anti-Gravity Running track
Players need a gymnasium to keep up their fitness but different players have different requirements. Players are analyzed via analysis done through motion sensors and before entering the gym the player has to log into the tablet and download the program designed for him.
There are 13 workstations in the gym for the players to work out. They can compare their performances. Motion sensors capture their performances in watts to analyze the power applied to the various dumbbells and barbells
Anti-Gravity Running track
The Anti-gravity running track
In a contact sport like football Injuries are part of the game and a team must be prepared for Injuries, The Anti-gravity running track helps players recover faster from their injuries. This was originally used for astronauts to keep up their fitness now it is used to help athletes recover.
“On the track, the player wears airtight trousers with an air chamber that reaches to the hips. A blower creates pressure in it, which reduces the body weight up to by 80%.”
As much as there are many modern facilities inside the academy there are a lot of disciplinary procedures as well. No hats or sunglasses are allowed inside the academy. Internet access is switched off after 10 pm. Only Senior players are allowed to have a TV inside their rooms but with certain restrictions.
Due to its circular nature, the football would bounce back from the panel to the player waiting in the center. The structure is equipped with motion sensors and high-speed cameras. This helps the coach and his training staff to collect data regarding the player. They allow them to understand which foot the player used to complete the training assignment. The inbuilt system analyses the processing time and ball controlling foot. Some of the drills inside the Soccerbot include “Find and hit the shown target” or “Hit as fast as possible a flashing square”.
An LPN system collects positional data of players inside the football hall. The accurate motion sensors are close to 5-10 centimeters and are stationed at 8 different locations. The system also gives passing accuracy, touches taken and the amount of time ball possession is kept
A thorough investigation of this behemoth of football development makes one wonder how football has changed from a team sport to that of individual attention. Everybody in this facility is given utmost care and attention and this is making RB Salzburg academy an attractive prospect for players to play in.
“This piece is based on an article in http://www.redbull.com in their Salzburg academy”