Wonderkids, rightly or wrongly, seem to get everyone’s pulse racing, every FM boss loves taking the credit for developing a youngster in to a world-beater but even if you’re certain a player is mega-talented he might only become an average Premier League player.
Who wants to wait five or more years before your young players start to hit top speed? After all, you can’t win anything with kids, can you?
When I took on the challenge of winning big with Genoa C.F.C. (Genoa Cricket and Football Club) I set about investing in promising teenagers, predominantly home-grown Italians, thinking it wouldn’t take long until their talent shone through and helped us to our first league title.
However, I was wrong and the kids I put my trust in were mainly inconsistent for about five seasons while Antonio Conte’s Juventus embarrassed all-comers in Serie A winning league title after league title.
At low ebbs like this you realise you can’t just gamble on youngsters developing to their full potential ability, you have to buy mature players who already have the quality and experience to make a real difference.
Fortunately, though success in the form of glistening trophies was tough to find, our forays in the Europa League and soon after participating in the lucrative Champions League, meant most years I’ve had a fair transfer budget with which I could strengthen my high-potential squad.
My overall income/ expenditure balance has never been great though so I’m regularly offered a higher transfer budget than my overall balance will allow.
Obviously, funds are key when we want to ‘dip our toes’ in to the transfer market for that 20-goal-a-season striker so you need various and substantial sources of income.
Qualifying and doing well in Europe’s top club competitions is probably the best way to make enough money annually to be competitive in the transfer market, success breeds success as they say.
The last of the big spenders
I bought a Dutch newgen called Jan ter Borgh from Ajax for £20m – I believe he was relatively cheap because he was in the last year of his contract and he signaled the start of a brief period of luxury spending. I only kept Ter Borgh for two seasons as he never really settled, selling him for £30m to Man United.
I wasn’t holding back anymore and I decided if I had to spend big on one or two players instead of five or more 16-year-olds to compete with Juventus and other big European clubs I would.
Moreover, I knew as long as the big signings I made were relatively young, say under-26, I’d still be able to sell them again if they didn’t perform once at my club.
You have to bear in mind a player’s re-sale value like Sir Alex Ferguson has often pointed out, such as in 2010, following Man United’s acquisition of Javier Hernandez.
Ferguson said: “We like doing these kind of deals where we can identify young talent. We’ve been good at that over the years. There is the odd exception when we sign an older, more mature player like [Dimitar] Berbatov, but when you sign a player for that kind of money, you know there isn’t going to be a resale value.
“It always comes down to signing a player who we think is going to improve us or maintain the level we are at.”
Chicarito had already played for the Mexican national team in the 2010 World Cup before joining United later that year though and was near enough ‘the finished article’.
Still, Sir Alex’s comment has resonated with me.
Picking up bargains
Signing established international players for your club doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank though and you can, if you’re vigilant and lucky, pick up top players on frees.
Free transfers have many of us rubbing our hands together thinking of how much money we’ve potentially saved but I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes underestimates the worth of putting effort in to looking for these deals.
I managed to sign Paulo Eduardo, a player worth £50m-£60m, on a free and could’ve signed an equally immense centre back if the two foreign player transfer rule didn’t exist in Serie A.
Here’s a player I will NOT be selling as long as I can help it.
I’m extremely satisfied I managed to sign such a great player on a free, a player I’d previously signed as a 16-year-old for the club I bought him from.
The above player, Renato Matias, I bought for £26.5m from Sevilla, an astronomical amount compared to my average spend.
Matias, who was already well-developed at 22-years-old when he joined, hit the ground running for Genoa and bagged nine goals and two assists in 18 games in his first season showing how buying ready-made talent can work wonders in FM13.
The main reason I spotted this attacking midfielder was he played alongside Delfim Couto, a centre midfielder already hugely important for Genoa, in the Portugal team, and I wanted their chemistry to benefit us too.
Nevertheless, because Matias didn’t start his career with me at Genoa, I don’t feel attached to him and would sell him for around £20m at the drop of a hat.
This leads me to believe if I had a team filled with players I’d bought in their twenties who another manager moulded, I’d have little or no attachment to my team and I’d never be able to stay for long.
For me, Football Manager is enjoyable for similar reasons I like football: I love player stories and seeing a player develop at my club.
There’s nothing better than, for example, scouting a 16-year-old Belgian centre back called Carmine Di Muro, signing him for £2.3m and giving him his first professional appearance, forgiving his early mistakes, watching him play for Italy in a World Cup after gaining citizenship and seeing him grow as a footballer and re-pay you on the virtual pitch for your faith.
In truth, if you really want palpable success in FM13, you’ll struggle unless you can buy one or two mature world class players every other year, however, it’s the players who’re at my club by my side for their entire careers who keep me interested in this game of epic stories.