Southampton are close to appointing Manchester City youth scouting expert Joe Shields as their new head of first-team recruitment, with influential talent-spotter Sam Fagbemi a contender to replace him at the Etihad.
Shields, who has developed a reputation as one of the best identifiers of young players in European football, is poised to leave City this summer to take up his first role in senior recruitment at St Mary’s.
The news comes as a blow to City given Shields’ expertise in youth recruitment. The scout was famously credited with bringing Jadon Sancho to City in 2015.
Southampton (manager Ralph Hasenhuttl pictured) are close to appointing Manchester City youth scouting expert Joe Shields as their new head of first-team recruitment
City have been able to fend off major interest in Shields from rival Premier League clubs in recent years – with Arsenal and Chelsea both understood to have tried to lure the 35-year-old back to London.
But the opportunity to work within the first-team recruitment set-up of a top-flight club is a major attraction for Shields.
City are desperate to keep Shields – and while the move is not competed there is a growing feeling at Southampton that they can agree a deal for the recruitment guru to join this summer.
If Shields, who currently holds the role head of academy recruitment and talent management, does leave then City are expected to explore internal candidates to fill the void, with influential talent scout Fagbemi in line for a promotion.
It would be a big blow for Pep Guardiola to lose one of the best identifiers of young players in European football
Like Shields, Fagbemi – who has played a lead role in the the recruitment of City’s current batch of emerging youngsters such as Liam Delap, Cole Palmer and Luke Mbete – has attracted major interest from rival clubs, including Arsenal and Newcastle, in recent years.
Fagbemi currently holds the role of national youth scouting manager at City and has worked closely alongside Shields since arriving at the Etihad as lead southern scout from his previous role as a video scout with the Gunners in 2017.
Carl Walker, Stewart Thompson and Paul McLaren, who hold recruitment positions within City’s scouting set-up, could also emerge as contenders to replace Shields.