Newcastle may have pulled off a transfer masterstroke with 'one of the last pieces of jigsaw'

You could say Les Reed knows what he's talking about. The 71-year-old runs the UEFA elite scout programme and has served not only as the FA's technical director but, also, as the head of football development and vice-chairman at Southampton.

So when such an experienced figure in the game describes Paul Mitchell as an 'excellent appointment', you sit up and listen, particularly when the Londoner has previously worked closely with Newcastle United's new sporting director.

"Paul is very passionate about what he does and is very dedicated to it," Reed told ChronicleLive. "He works very hard but he's always looking to improve things, find another angle and find another way of doing something.

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"He's always right at the cutting edge, which was a big part of our strategy at Southampton and the way we did things. It enabled us to recruit some significantly valuable players and achieve some great success with those players.

"Our team at Southampton, of which Paul was a significant part, was probably way ahead of the game at the time and he knows that part of the industry inside, out. From the time he joined us from MK Dons to his time at Monaco, he's widened his network, made more contacts, enhanced his reputation and learned a lot.

"He's also very curious. He's always looking to try and improve things so I think he will do very well for Newcastle."

Those are the qualities Mitchell will bring to Newcastle and it is not an exaggeration to suggest that Southampton started something of a data revolution with their so-called black box. Data met intuitive scouting in this top secret room at the club's training ground and gave the Saints an edge when it came to who to watch in person.

Mitchell, as director of recruitment, was responsible for developing Southampton's European scouting programme - appointing a number of experienced and savvy talent spotters on the ground - and that work paid dividends. Ever wonder how Southampton got to Sadio Mane first? Or Toby Alderweireld for that matter? It was because Southampton were ahead of the game.

Such strong recruitment did not go unnoticed. Just as Southampton's players attracted interest, so, too, did their staff and Spurs brought Mitchell in as the club's new head of recruitment and analysis in 2014. Now, more than a decade on, Mitchell is returning to the Premier League to help shape not only the Newcastle of today but the Newcastle of tomorrow.

"Succession planning is one of Paul's strengths," Reed explained. "He will be very big on knowing not just where good players are, but how they fit into Newcastle's strategy and culture at the club. When one player moves on, he will be ready with a list of replacements. That's what he does and he's very good at it.

"I think it's a perfect fit. He's just what Newcastle need because in terms of the recent takeover and the new ownership, they have approached everything in a very calculated way. They have not rushed into things.

"We have seen other clubs with high-profile takeovers seemingly throwing money at everything and buying players left, right and centre. Newcastle have not done that. They have built their infrastructure very carefully and Paul is probably one of the last pieces of the jigsaw now to go in there."

As well as having previous experience in the top-flight, Mitchell is one of the few Englishmen in his field to have worked abroad in this field in recent years as a sporting director at AS Monaco, a technical director at Red Bull International Soccer and a head of recruitment development at RB Leipzig. Those contacts could yet prove invaluable for Newcastle in the years to come.

"He will give the club a much wider knowledge of global football," Reed added. "It's not only where he's worked, but also the markets that those clubs have operated in.

"The Red Bull group operated all over the world, so he will bring fresh knowledge and experience from that as well as the direct contact with those clubs and the leagues that they play in. The net will be spread a lot wider and that applies to the network that Paul has built over time."