RANGERS academy director Zeb Jacobs has claimed the Ibrox club have both the best young talent and youth programme in Scottish football – but has stressed that he and his colleagues are still scouring Europe and the world for ways to improve even further.

Jacobs, who worked as head of development at Royal Antwerp in his native Belgium before moving to Scotland three years ago, has implemented wide-ranging changes to the set-up at Auchenhowie since being appointed by the Glasgow giants.

However, the Double Pass consultant, who helps the renowned organisation to advise and educate associations, clubs and leagues on player development, admitted that he is constantly looking for ideas to “steal” as he welcomed a £400,000 investment from the Rangers Youth Development Company. 

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“I think we have the best young talent in Scotland and the best programme in Scotland,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that we’re done yet because the goal is also the infinite goal – the most exciting learning environment in sports.

The Herald: “You cannot measure that, it is an infinite goal and youth development is an infinite game. I think a lot of people in clubs are playing the finite game. Are we in a good space? One hundred per cent. But we are never done, we keep looking at what needs improving, at people, process, environment, everything, continuously.

“So we are in a good space, but we are not even close yet because it is a never a finished game. We need to keep going, keep improving. That is why the donation is so massively helpful for what we are trying to do. We have budget to keep improving in all areas.”

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Jacobs continued: “Other countries are maybe producing yet what they do is maybe not the best. We want to be research, data-driven environment where we do things with clear rationale not because it’s someone’s opinion.

“We want the background of data and research to ensure that we make right decisions that will influence player development on the long term.

“Do we take ideas from Belgium? One hundred per cent. But we do loads of best practice. We just went to Hoffenheim in Germany. It is a village of 3,500 people, but they are producing unbelievable players.

“We go and see what we can take from there. We are doing constant best practice all around the world. You can’t copy and paste methodology because it’s unique to the country and who we are. We look in the mirror a lot to see what we can do better, but we also look out to see what’s out there and what we can steal.

“It doesn’t matter if the idea comes from Belgium or France, as long as there’s clear rationale and we can back it up.”