Ben Manga will arrive at Watford’s London Colney training ground next week to head up player recruitment after leaving Eintracht Frankfurt.

The 48-year-old was Sporting Director at the German club, but at Vicarage Road he will be the club’s Technical Director.

This in turn means that Cristiano Giaretta stays at Watford in his role as Sporting Director, although there will be clear demarcation between the two.

Manga will oversee areas such as scouting, player identification and form part of the group that then looks at which players to sign or sell, along with owner Gino Pozzo and head coach Slaven Bilic.

The role that Giaretta will have is more administrative and supports Bilic and his coaches to ensure they have what they need, both at the training ground and on matchdays, as well as being the conduit between the footballing functions of the club and the board.


The appointment of Manga is regarded as quite a coup, and a contact who works in European football told me: “Watford have caught a lot of other clubs napping by getting Manga on board.

“He is extremely well-regarded and has a proven track record of finding excellent young players as well as identifying established players that meet the needs of the coach he is working with.

“His contacts book is second to none and his work at Frankfurt has been transformational.”

Manga was a full international for Equitorial Guinea during his playing career, but his club football was played mainly in the lower leagues in Germany though he did start his career at Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he made a handful of appearances.

He has worked at Eintracht since 2016, initially as chief scout but more recently Director of Professional Football.

During that time he has unearthed players such as French Under-21 international Evan Ndicka, Serbian striker Luka Jovic, French striker Randal Kolo-Muani and Colombian international forward Rafael Santos Borre.

Manga’s ability to spot talent earned him nicknames in Germany such ‘The Pearl Diver’ and ‘Eagle Eye’.

Jovic, who is currently part of Serbia’s World Cup squad, is a great example of Manga’s work. He initially took him to Frankfurt on a two-season loan from Benfica, and the German side then exercised their right to sign him permanently.

The striker scored 36 times in 75 outings for Frankfurt, before Real Madrid paid some €60m for him in 2019.

When he became chief scout the club had just finished 16th in the Bundesliga and only stayed up thanks to their success in a relegation play-off.

Since then, with the benefit of Manga’s ability to find and attract young talent and also identify players that his coaches need, Eintracht have finished as high as fifth and not lower than 11th.

Then last season they won the Europa League, beating Rangers 5-4 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1.

Incredibly, the 11 players that started the final for Eintracht cost a combined €45m, which was less than the fee they received when they sold Sebastien Haller to West Ham a couple of years earlier.

When Manga was promoted to Director of Professional Football, Eintracht’s manager at the time Fredi Bobic (the former German international) said: "Ben played a major part in Eintracht's success and the development over the last few years. His instinct for talents and his ability to spot them is highly developed, and I think he can further grow in the new structure laid out for him."

It is understood Manga will also bring some of the scouts he has used in Germany with him and, although Frankfurt did have a seven-figure exit clause in his contract, they have waived this as a gesture of the recognition of the work he has done.