Soccer players
(Photo by Alessandro Ascione/ Pexels)

Looking for the next Cristiano Ronaldo? Maybe AI could help!

A tech firm in London is leveraging on artificial intelligence (AI) via a mobile app to "democratise" the way soccer talents are identified and scouted. Available for free download worldwide, the aiScout app empowers aspiring footballers to showcase their talent by uploading self-recorded footage of drills for virtual trials with professional clubs.

These drills, comprising 75 exercises, also include instructions and videos to guide users through proper execution of several skills that scouts will be looking out for.

The app uses AI technology to analyse player performance from the uploaded footage. This data is eventually made available to clubs, allowing their scouts to wade through a vast pool of talent based on criteria like age, gender, and playing position.

In collaboration with two English Premier League giants, Chelsea and Burnley, aiScout allows clubs to customise in-app trials to suit their unique requirements. It enables them to set their own performance benchmarks, having their academy players complete the same drills as potential recruits.

aiScout: Democratising Talent Identification

"We're putting that data up front to make better use of [the scouts'] time. To say [to scouts], 'Go over to this place today because there's three players in that game that are all actually beating your Chelsea standard' — that's going to be the best use of your time," said Richard Felton-Thomas, chief operating officer of, the company behind the app.

The app's success cannot be disputed. Despite never receiving a professional trial, Ben Greenwood used the app to showcase his skills. His uploaded footage impressed Chelsea, making him the first aiScout user to land a pro trial. He ultimately signed a contract with Premier League club Bournemouth in 2021.

Beta testing began in 2019, with players from 125 countries, including Ben Greenwood. Following its full launch in 2023, the app has played a key role in simplifying and expediting the process of signings or trials for 135 players with professional clubs or national teams, according to Richard Felton-Thomas.

The app's current database boasts over 100,000 players and is poised for explosive growth. With Chelsea and Burnley already on board, over 100 more clubs are lined up to join. A multi-year partnership with Major League Soccer in the US was secured last May.

Citing these developments, Richard Felton-Thomas expects a surge in user numbers to the millions as the app scales up this year. He further revealed that most of their revenue comes from club licensing fees for the platform.

He noted that fees are tiered, reflecting club size and desired features. While "Tier one" clubs like Chelsea pay millions annually, lower league clubs pay thousands of pounds.

Beyond the Game: AI's Wider Impact

Smart technology's influence on sports continues to surge, with advancements like AI commentary tools and wearable tech for elite athletes. For instance, Google's DeepMind recently unveiled a tool that analyses expert football tactics and predicts corner kick outcomes.

The global market for sports analytics highlights this growing trend. Valued at $2.7 billion last year, the market is projected to reach a staggering 22 percent increase by the end of the decade, according to market research firm Grand View Research.

As AI is poised to automate numerous jobs within the next three years, some may wonder if soccer talent scouts are next in line for redundancy. However, Richard Felton-Thomas believes new technologies can work alongside, not against, traditional scouting methods.

"It's more about evolution than revolution," Felton-Thomas explained.

"We can't tell you when that player's actually in that match, how does he deal with adversity? What happens when he's 2-0 down? What happens when someone's shouting at him? What happens when he's just made a massive mistake?"

"We've got the ability to just augment real people to do their jobs better and faster, which then gives an opportunity to the player through the AI, but you're still actually just connecting them to the human on the other side, which is the club and the scout."