Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waves farewell at the end of his last Premier League match at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waves farewell at the end of his last Premier League match at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who retired from Arsenal in 2018, is highly regarded for his willingness to embrace data-driven approaches to football. (Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Former Arsenal manager backs Israeli football tech startup

Arsène Wenger, known as a pioneer in the adaptation of data analytics in European football, will be an operating partner of PlayerMaker.

Arsène Wenger, the legendary manager of Arsenal Football Club who retired last year after more than two decades, is investing in PlayerMaker, an Israeli-backed startup that will help revolutionize football analytics.

Wenger, known as an early pioneer in data analytics for the sport, coached in the Premier League for 22 years, longer than any other coach in the league. He used innovative approaches to adapt to the ebbs and flows of world football, specifically the data-centric model that has taken over the sport in the last 10 years.

"PlayerMaker’s technology is essential for the modern football coach – regardless of level," Wenger said. "How we coach players has developed significantly since my early days in the sport, but what hasn’t changed is the need for coaches and managers to utilize cutting-edge innovations to get ahead in order to bring the best out of players."

PlayerMaker's progressive business model relies on extracting performance management data from the athlete, using motion sensors on a player’s boot. The device detects every ball touch and builds accurate gait profiles, without affecting performance. This will give football clubs the ability to analyze their players' speeds, leg use, touches and game participation, ensuring that the sport's next generation of superstars can be more easily identified.

The PlayerMaker device attaches to the player's cleat to deliver a large dataset based on movement and contact with the ball. The PlayerMaker device attaches to the player's cleat to deliver a large dataset based on movement and contact with the ball. (Photo: PlayerMaker)

The device is being used by Fulham, Millwall, Wimbledon, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Atlanta United, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Club America and more.

“Arsène Wenger has always championed advancements in football, for coaches, players and fans alike, and we are proud to welcome him to the PlayerMaker family," said Guy Aharon, PlayerMaker's CEO and co-founder. "We delivered rapid international expansion over the last year to align with the huge global demand for our technology, and thanks to Arsène Wenger’s involvement, we are expecting to accelerate further our growth trajectory throughout 2019 and beyond.”

Wenger brings a wealth of knowledge and credibility as an investor and operating partner of the Israeli company. His "Invincibles" team of 2003-04 is the only team in this era to not lose any of their 38 league matches all season. He is widely credited for his adaptation of player management, and for his willingness to embrace data analytics as a tool for improving player performance.

The star-studded list of footballers under his tutelage includes Israeli powerhouse Yossi Benayoun, French World Cup winner Thierry Henry and Dutch striker Robin van Persie.

Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal celebrates scoring Yossi Benayoun, who announced his retirement after a sparkling 22-year career, was born in Dimona, Israel. (Photo: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)

CEO Aharon is no stranger to the sports tech industry. In 2016 he released a device called Motionize, which is designed to help kayakers optimize their training. It includes a sensor that attaches to a paddle, a waterproof case with a motion sensor for a smartphone and an app that provides real-time feedback.

"There is no end of products that monitor movement and measure various physical parameters. They provide data about pulse, speed, angles. OK. So what? What can I do with all this information? Is it good? Is it not good?" Aharon said. "We take the information and process it and tell you that if you do things in a certain way it will be better for you."

Motionize's kit helps kayakers optimize their training. Motionize's kit helps kayakers optimize their training. (Photo: Courtesy of Motionize)

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Former Arsenal manager backs Israeli football tech startup
Arsène Wenger, who managed the Premier League club for 22 years, is known as a pioneer in the adaptation of data analytics.