CHELSEA’S most important man this winter may be their least well-known.
Head of international scouts Scott McLachlan, formerly an analyst at Fulham, Southampton and Northampton, was promoted last year after the departure of technical director Michael Emenalo.
8 Scott McLachlan is Chelsea's unsung scout tasked with solving their striker problem
Twelve months into the new job and McLachlan is facing his biggest challenge to date after being tasked with finding the frontman to solve Chelsea’s striker problems.
Alvaro Morata has five Premier League goals this season while 32-year-old Olivier Giroud has netted just once in 11 league appearances.
As reported by SunSport in October, Chelsea have lost patience with £65million man Morata and boss Maurizio Sarri wants a new number nine next month.
Here’s where McLachlan comes in.
Getty – Contributor8 McLachlan was promoted when Michael Emenalo left the club last year
EPA8 McLachlan and his team are on the hunt for a replacement for Alvaro Morata
READ MORE BRILLIANT FEATURESsuperclasico Dates confirmed for River Plate's historic Copa Libertadores final with Boca Budget beauty These are the cheap home beauty hacks you NEED, including a potato pedicure EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT The 9 best foods to eat for a better night's sleep ExclusiveIRON WILL Triathlete son of ex-Prem ref returns thanks to 'Halo' screwed into his skull THE STAR BAKER ELITE The FULL list of every Great British Bake Off winner so far FeatureGame Changers Stars who swapped sports.. and how they got on in their new-look careers KEEPING UP WITH THE CAR DASH ICONS What do the warning symbols on your car dashboard mean? MAESTROS Who were the 5 best midfielders from last season?
Chelsea have been linked with moves for Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi and Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic.
And sports psychologist Ken Way, who worked with McLachlan at Southampton, says Chelsea have a formula of identifying the type of player they need.
He told SunSport: “When they’re making player assessments they have a process.
“It isn’t back of a fag packet reports from a scout who’s gone to see a player.
PA:Press Association8 Maurizio Sarri and his men have lost patience with Morata
PA:Press Association8 Bournemouth's Callum Wilson is one of the players linked with a move to Stamford Bridge
“They have a really detailed, specific process that goes as far as how many times a player is watched, the level of scout watching them.
“They have a formula for working out not only the capabilities of the player but how much they’re worth on the market.”
Despite scratching his head at Chelsea being linked with Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch last summer, Way backs McLachlan's process.
“I do remember finding it curious,” he said.
Getty Images – Getty8 Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi has also been linked with Chelsea
“I just felt they must have done their internal homework to determine they needed someone who offers the likes of what Carroll offers, height in the box, the fact players around them are likely to put in telling crosses.
“There will have been some magical calculation that says this is what is needed.”
McLachlan describes himself as "passionate and enthused by all aspects of scouting and the challenge of merging modern and traditional talent identification models."
AFP8 Chelsea have also identified Genoa's Krzysztof Piatek as a possible replacement
His role while working alongside Way at Southampton was much more varied, though.
The psychologist said: “He was an analyst at the time and was looking not just at our own team of personnel and players but also the opposition.
“He would look into what they were about, how our players could combat the opposition with strengths and weaknesses.
“Scott sure as heck knows his stuff and he’s a great guy.”
But Way recalled one particular time when McLachlan showed his versatility.
On the final day of the 2007/08 season, Nigel Pearson’s Southampton faced relegation to League One in a must-win game against Sheffield United.
Getty Images – Getty8 McLachlan helped Nigel Pearson's Southampton escape relegation
Way was the psychologist but McLachlan had an idea.
He said: “Scott would put together videos for individual players for what to look out for in the opposition.
“But for this game, a life or death situation with relegation as a possibility, he produced an absolutely astounding video for the team to watch before the match.”
McLachlan’s movie included interviews with each player alongside the highlights and best moments of their season.
LATEST FOOTBALL STORIESQuizbird-brained? Test your knowledge of the crazy rivalry between Brighton and Crystal Palace SponsoredSKY SPORTS DEAL Get two Sky Sports channels for the price of one in 2019 WEL-BIKE Danny Welbeck has bizarre mini bike to get around… with shopping basket on front RevealedDio-go get 'em Diogo Dalot fit to face Southampton, reveals Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho Commentdave kidd Emery and Pochettino are cut from same cloth.. the fight for North London is on Jose's Def-Ince Sir Alex would have hammered Marcus Rashford for miss, says Paul Ince GOOD KOP Liverpool don't deserve Champions League if they can’t beat Napoli, says Milner CommentIBRACADABRA Man Utd need Zlatan again.. he's the hip veteran to reconnect Jose with stars
“It was psychologically building these guys up for this must-win match,” Way explains. Southampton won 3-2 and their Championship status remained.
A decade on and McLachlan’s role is drastically different as he is working much more closely with Blues director and Roman Abramovich’s right-hand woman Marina Granovskaia.
This winter could see McLachlan make a name for himself outside of Stamford Bridge.