I met the owner of Obinna’s previous club through a TransferRoom Summit a few years ago. When we were in the ‘discovery phase’ of the player I reached out to the Ujpest owner and asked for some feedback and information on him. It was about using all the angles to get as much information as possible on the player and person during our scouting and recruitment.
Obinna's immediate on-field impact
Obinna Nwobodo (pictured) arrived at FC Cincinnati in mid-April in a $3m move from Göztepe SK in Turkey that was facilitated by TransferRoom.
The Nigerian defensive midfielder's impact on the team was immediate: his first four matches into his Major League Soccer career resulted in four wins, with two goals conceded and two clean sheets.
He was the first Designated Player signing for Cincinnati (and first from outside of MLS) under the era of General Manager Chris Albright, who joined in October 2021 with Nwobodo already a club target for one of the three coveted DP slots.
Following an extensive data-led search, Cincinnati declared interest in the 25-year-old on TransferRoom, which led to him being placed on the Discovery List (giving the club priority to bring the player to MLS) and eventually resulted in a move for Nwobodo to end his two-year spell in Turkey.
But the story can actually be traced back to the midfielder’s time at Ujpest in Hungary between 2017 and 2020.
TransferRoom now has a league-wide deal in place with MLS, but Cincinnati were one of a number of clubs already using the platform to gain an advantage over their competitors by building global connections.
Hunter Freeman, Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment at Cincinnati, tells TransferRoom: “We identified Obinna originally through our own data, and we used TransferRoom to get a sense of the player’s value during our process.
“I'd met the owner of Obinna’s previous club in Hungary through a TransferRoom Summit a few years ago. So when we were in the ‘discovery phase’ of the player I reached out to the Ujpest owner and asked for some feedback and information on him.
“It was about using all the angles to get as much information as possible on the player and person during our scouting and recruitment.”
Getting the full player picture
It is an example of how a network built on TransferRoom can pay dividends down the line.
Real-time data on TransferRoom and connections made at Summits for Hunter Freeman (left) paved the way for Nwobono's move
As Freeman told TransferRoom at a recent live summit, those connections can be tapped into for vital information about a player - as Cincinnati did with Nwobodo - before you make your move.
He explained: “TransferRoom allows you to streamline real information quickly… it may not even be the club you’re talking to to get the player from, it may be the club previously or two clubs previously where you can get a lot of real information.
“The reality is that the agent is going to tell you what you want to hear and usually the selling club will tell you the same. So to be able to get that information and some background stuff on what the player is like off the field… that sometimes is really difficult to get or takes a long time.”
Goztepe had been aware of previous interest in Nwobodo from Cincinnati, and it was not until Albright’s arrival in the city that communication between the two clubs was established.
Kaan Oz, Board Member and Director of Football Operations at Goztepe SK, told TransferRoom: “It is very important to have a clear and swift information flow between football clubs, especially during the transfer windows. But due to high staff turnover in the football industry, even the existing communication channels can get disrupted often.
“In that sense TransferRoom played a key role to restore our direct communication with FC Cincinnati and consequently to facilitate the transfer of Obinna Nwobodo.”
Despite Goztepe’s struggles - they have been relegated from the Super Lig - Nwobodo excelled this season, ranking first in the league in terms of tackles and ball recoveries until his April move.
Speaking at the unveiling of Nwobodo, Albright said: "We've done over half a year of due diligence on him. We've been over to Turkey on multiple occasions. I was able to sit with the player, meet with the player. We were able to communicate to him via Zoom with myself and Pat [Noonan, head coach] prior to me going over and meeting the player. We've seen him play live on multiple occasions. We've seen him train."
It was the second transfer in nine months for Cincinnati involving TransferRoom, following the sale of Swedish centre-back Tom Petersson to Lillestrøm SK in Norway in the summer of 2021.