"Bastardo At War: Russia” #FM19

Previously in The Bastardo Cinematic Universe, Bastardo invaded Africa with the help of an old friend.


Ángel Bastardo’s bones were old and hard, but they had never felt a chill like tonight.

Russia was a frozen Hell. He left Africa in the hands of his Generals, readying for another war. His Maghrebian loyalist were instructed to increase their Mediterranean naval strength and a further 200 anti-aircraft missiles were to be stationed by the Suez canal. The European Community are merciless in the face of weakness…so Bastardo had to ensure the Republic of La Plata was ready to respond with whatever military action the axis of evil would throw at him.

He was in Russia to meet Ruslan Chepiga, an expert in the dark arts of poisoning & subterfuge. The UN needed to be sent a silent but deadly message…

“Africa is red”.


The Alliance

Ángel Bastardo wasn't the first military dictator Ruslan Chepiga had broken bread with but he was certainly one of the most intimidating. He stood well over 6 foot, built like a prize bull, with slick black hair.

Ruslan fixed his gaze on him and did not falter. "We can take care of your problem, we do this sort of thing all the time. But let me be clear there will be a price, a heavy price, for our expertise. If you fuck with us, we will do, what Russia does, you will not see it coming, you will feel safe, you will probably be smiling at home in your favourite chair, or making love, when the Russian Bear bites".

"Do not threaten me Russian, I have faced down bigger men than you.  I am La Plata" Bastardo reached over for his drink, and Ruslan smiled: "I wouldn't touch that if I were you".

Ruslan grabbed the glass and poured its contents across the pristine mahogany desk, Bastardo smiled as the liquid dissolved straight through onto the carpet below.

"Do we have an accord or not!" the Russian exclaimed.

Ángel Bastardo didn’t have to say anything in return.  Russia would stand with Bastardo.

Russia stands with Bastardo.


FC Anzhi Makhachkala Vs América de Cali

One of the requirements that Bastardo insisted upon as part of his visit to Russia was that Ruslan Chepiga would host a Winter Break friendly against a top European side. If Bastardo was to be spotted by the media, he’d play the disguise of the ex-football manager watching a glamour tie. After all, his 8 years at Estudiantes de La Plata brought worldwide notoriety as a football manager…the European press do well to forget this when branding Bastardo awful terms, such as ‘Dictator’, ‘Mercenary’ & ‘Tyrant’.

The Anzhi Arena: home of ‘The Bastardo Glamour Friendly’.

So, imagine the disappointment for Ángel Bastardo when Ruslan Chepiga introduced América de Cali as the ‘glamour friendly’. Bastardo did not like Colombians, his time at Estudiantes made sure of that. Teams such as Atlético Nacional & Once Caldas had always put up a fight in the Libertadores, and more importantly, they could never be paid off. Their loyalty was solely to Colombia and the drug cartels that financed them.

However, América de Cali though had come a long way to correct its tarnished image from the 1990s, where being owned by the Cali Cartel, under the direction of the Orejuela brothers (aka The Gentlemen Of Cali), meant being placed on the dreaded 'Clinton List'. Their image had improved somewhat since 2018 with the appointment of a young Englishman in the name of Mike According. His América side playing some neat football over the last few years, with a rejuvenated Mateo Cardona pulling the strings from central midfield as a No.10. If there was ever a Colombian team that Bastardo could fall in love with, it could well be According’s Cali.

Anzhi Makhachkala, on the other hand, had a growing reputation for the dark arts of football - another Bastardo love. Ruslan Chepiga would often play a traditional 4141 and keep his wingers behind the ball, ready to counter on the turnover of possession. They were coming into the glamour friendly to boost confidence…after crashing out of the Champions League Qualifiers to FC Zürich of Switzerland. The good news is that the Europa League Group Stages still await: Roma, Sparta Prague and Young Boys the opponents. Chepiga had the love of his people - surviving a one-year transfer ban by blooding Anzhi youth into the First Team and insisting on only recruiting players from the Eastern Block. Anzhi Makhachkala were now seen as the workers' club, which is a far cry from the Anzhi of old, with its over-elaborate transfer policy of the mid-00s.


The Interview

Two managers, two stories in motion: Chepiga & According. Anzhi & Cali. It was time for Bastardo to meet them…

AB: Hola caballeros. How are your teams coming into this match?

RC: We’re in Season 3 right now. The Russian League has started well, the only defeat coming against Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Krasnador. We’ve looked good in other games, especially defensively. Could match 3rd again. Sacrificed the cups in previous two years.

MA: My Cali team are at the mid-point of Season 3. We had our 1st league title in season 1, and since then two domestic Semi-finals. On the continental stage, we’ve has a Semi Copa Sudamericana. Playing quite well in recent weeks, and I’ve stopped rotating as much as I previously was doing. Quite defensive in the league. 8 goals conceded in the first 19 games of the league. Anti-Futbol? Possibly.

AB: Who are your star players?

RC: Player of the season last year was Right winger Savichev: average rating 7.23, 8 goals and 8 assists. Very often he was set free on the right by long cross field passes by my favourite player, Right footed Left midfielder (WM-A) Doston Xamdamov from Uzbekistan. Excited by new signing Glushakov his player traits of gets forward and arrives late in opponents’ box are perfect for my system. 60+ caps for Russia.

MA: Mateo Cardona. No.10, top scorer and assister in the previous season (2019). Joined on a free at the start of 2018. 19 year-old Gustavo Carvajal, América youth prospect and highest potential player in the squad. He plays at DM/CM and is vice-captain and has led the side on many occasions.

AB: Do you have any perceived weaknesses?

RC: Quite often on the left side it can be open. Full back is in space to advance but can be exposed. On the lookout for a better LFB. I’m also limited in the save to players from the former Eastern Bloc so difficult to source replacements. Squad depth isn’t good after first XI, so it’s very limited. I am always too eager to adjust the tactic if you lose 2-3 games.

MA: Too negative football mostly using support roles (I’d rather win 1-0 than 3-1!). We’re quite low scoring and I value a clean sheet above all else. I’m slow on the changes too. We’ve put too much faith in young players or out of form players to turn it around.

AB: Describe your team in up to 5 adjectives.

RC: Blunt & Serious. Our club motto is: “through hard work and skill we shall overcome our foes”. This is what I’m working towards.

MA: Strong, Physical, conservative, robust.

The answers to the above questions left Bastardo worrying about the ambition and quality of these two teams. A 0-0 bore draw was looking likely and Bastardo longed to witness Mendoza-ball again. But would Anzhi Vs Cali play out this way? Let’s find out…


The Match

Tactical

When a team from one continent meets another it often throws up huge tactical intrigue. Perceptions on how football should be played develop within their national or continental bubbles. National identity and pride therefore directly translate into football, such as the contrasting styles of mentalities (Defensive vs Attacking) and the profile of footballers it creates (Physical Vs Technical). The same contrasting views can be seen when Cali came to Anzhi. Despite both managers painting a picture of hard work & pragmatism, there were subtle intrinsic differences in the players on shown. Form Mateo Cardona's technical mastery to Denis Glushakov’s relentless industry in midfield, this was a match that promised a lot: East meets West. Chepiga Vs According.

Line Ups

Both teams similarly lined up with flat back fours and a central striker. The major difference between the two sides was the midfield, with Chepiga instructing his wide players to play deeper and in line with the central pairing of Konstantin Savichev and Doston Xamdamov. According’s Cali would rather have his wide players more advanced and feeding off Fernando Aristeguieta who was playing as a Target Man upfront.

Key Players

Key players for Anzhi include Ivan Novoseltsev at the back, who is on loan from Zenit Saint Petersburg. Doston Xamdamov is unquestionably the poster child of Anzhi football right now, with good Technique and Vision. If Anzhi were going to win tonight, it would be Doston who’d no doubt feature heavily on the flanks. Lastly, Chepiga’s biggest transfer coup is Denis Glushakov - who has amassed 64 caps for Russia. His drive and experience would be key for Anzhi tonight and Bastardo was looking forward to seeing what he could bring to the team in central midfield.

According’s Cali was equally homegrown. Nicolás Vidal has a presence about him between the sticks with good Aerial Reach and Command Of Area. Fernando Aristeguieta was also one to look out for, after a failed spell in Ligue Un with FC Nantes the Target Man has become a bit of a cult figure in Cali. Aristeguieta has the player traits to suit such a role, and Bastardo was looking forward to seeing how he matched up against Ivan Novoseltsev. The third and final player that Bastardo couldn’t wait to see was Mateo Cardona. A raw and untamed talent that would be playing as a Mezzala on Attack in the centre of midfield.

Defensive Organisation

The subtle differences in the 4141s deployed meant the location of attacking spaces were different for each side. However both teams were overly cautious in the first 45 minutes, and neither team could take advantage in open play.

Cali

Chepiga’s Anzhi were extremely disciplined without the ball, keeping their shape with good defensive organisation.

Anzhi

Cardona's artistry

With both teams being so reserved, it’s little wonder that the 1st Half only saw 2 shots on target (1 from each team). Fortunately for According’s Cali, that shot on target came from the right boot of Mateo Cardona…

América de Cali 1-0 (Kvaskhvadze OG, 13 mins).

One of the standout South American bargains in FM19 (available on a Free Transfer in July 2018, if you have South American players loaded) is Colombian gem, Mateo Cardona.  His attributes and overall performance in this year's match engine is perhaps vastly inflated considering he can't keep a club side in real life (at least five clubs in 2 years!).  But under Mike According, Mateo Cardona is the perfect 10…showing incredible guile to put Cali 1-0 up with a glorious freekick.  Cali would lead at Half Time.  Chepiga needed a response.

Second Half

Both teams remained unchanged after Half Time, with Ruslan Chepiga continuing with the flat four in midfield.  Cali on the other hand were looking to exploit the right flank more often, after identifying Doston Xamdamov as a player who often cuts inside.

On the 50th minute, Anzhi Left Back Dmytro Nemchaninov had a horror show to forget.  Losing possession in the attacking third, to Gustavo Carvajal - who had impressed Bastardo through his defensively sound pressing and maturity with the ball.  The young Colombian found the deep lying Target Man, Aristeguieta.  The damage was done as soon as Inside Forward Mayer Vidal had the ball.  His driving run inside from the right flank (as you’d expect) caught the Anzhi backline off-guard.  It was Nemchaninov’s missed interception (his second mistake in the same minute)…meant Mateo Cardona had a chance to smash in his 2nd of the night.  2-0 América de Cali.

América de Cali 2-0 (Cardona, 50 mins).

An Anzhi comeback?

With just under 15 minutes to go, Ruslan Chepiga instructed his team to become more positive, as a counter measure Cali’s response was to go Cautious. This brought about a thrilling climax to an otherwise nervy encounter.

On 82 minutes, under heavy Anzhi pressure, the Cali defensive masterclass finally crumbled. Defensive anchor, David Silva, recklessly bringing down Konstantin Savichev in the area. Penalty Anzhi:

FC Anzhi Makhachkala grab one back: 1-2 (Glushakov 82 mins).

Concentration always plays a decisive factor in the closing stages of any game, and this one was no different. The Anzhi war machine had taken a while to start purring, but with 5 minutes to go there were pockets of attacking spaces opening up to exploit. Below, left sided Centre Back Ivan Novoseltsev picking out a perfect ball to release substitute Advanced Forward, Timur Zhamaletdinov…

Novoseltsev’s options - 85 mins.

Zhamaletdinov’s wasted chance - 85 mins.

Bastardo had been praising Gustavo Carvajal’s defensive displays all game, but on 86 minutes the most insane bit of decision making was used to cynically take out Anzhi’s Taras Puchkovskyi from a defending throw-in. It was a chance for Chepiga’s Anzhi to draw level and make it 2-2…

Gustavo Carvajal’s incredible challenge. 86 mins.

Nicolás Vidal would be the hero, not Denis Glushakov…whose penalty was a disappointment for the Russians.

Conclusion

This match will never go down as a classic, and perhaps not even register in the consciousnesses of most FMers…but it’s a noteworthy entry into Bastardo’s Lore. We had two beautiful moments of Cali play, capitalised ruthlessly by Mateo Cardona’s untamed potential. It’s perhaps “what might have been” for Ruslan Chepiga’s Anzhi. There’s no doubting their work ethic and commitment for the shirt…but they have to be more clinical in future skirmishes. South American flair triumphant this time round: FC Anzhi Makhachkala 1-2 América de Cali.


The Gentleman of Cali

The day's events involving assassination plots, political intrigue and spectating football had left its toll on Ángel Bastardo, he was tired and weary.  Yet he could not sleep.  Wars would do that to a man.  The battles might be over but Ángel would revist them over-and-over again, the men he had killed would be there in the dreams to keep him awake at night.  He knew their faces as well as his own.

The silence in the room was broken however, with a deftly whisper…crisp and sharp like the deadliest of blades.

Ángel” whispered Bastardo’s squire, Pablo Rodríguez, a young man who has made the trip down to Bastardo’s bed chambers late at night.   He continued worriedly, ”Libya has fallen.  All of the Maghreb has fallen”.

Ángel Bastardo’s pause was long and solemn, the anguish in his voice was clear as he grated out the words “El Diego?

Mendoza is in Arabia now.  He’s held up there, it’s where we should go.  The UN and the América are coming for La Plata.  It’s only a matter of time before...

As if by magic, and before Pablo Rodríguez could finish his sentence, Ruslan Chepiga emerged from the shadows in the room.  His voice as cold as the night breeze hitting the window pane: "Sympathetic allies around the world are important for a burgeoning dictatorship my friends. Should you fall on hard times, you have my word, Mike According will help you. Do not hesitate to go back to Colombia with him at this very instance"

Bastardo turned to reach his gun, using the cocking handle as his aim met with Ruslan's eyes.

”Yes, Ruslan.  I’ll go to Colombia, with The Gentleman of Cali.

Pablo & Ruslan nodded as Bastardo holstered the gun onto his hip before careful placing the silkskin blazer onto his broad frame.  All-out war had begun, Africa may fall and many will perish, but Ángel Bastardo had never looked so cool.


Note from the Editor - huge thanks to both Ruslan and Mike for coming on-board the Bastardo bandwagon and moving the story forward.  It was great capturing their match and I hope others find it equally entertaining.  If you do not already, go check out their work.  They are two great FM storytellers who always make time to chat FM and are good guys:

Ruslan Chepiga / @FMEadster - fmeadster.wordpress.com

Mike According / @accordingtofm - accordingtofm.wordpress.com

As always, thanks for reading/sharing and caring.

FM Grasshopper

"The Fibra Battleground" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19


FC Lorient Header.jpg

Second season syndrome is the now-common phrase that is used to describe a downturn in fortunes for a football club in its second season after its promotion to the Premier League of English football – particularly if the first season after promotion had brought a strong finish (M.Cheetham 2007. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_season_syndrome).


Season 2020/21

There was a certain amount of trepidation going into my third season with FC Lorient and my second season in France’s top tier.  The old cliché of the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ nestled in the back of my head, but this is France and not England, right?

Pre-season

Despite solid results from our friendlies, we had some awful pre-season luck.  The big news story was ‘The Curious Case of Alphonso Davies’.  Arguably the Ligue 1 Summer transfer coup, as FC Lorient attracted one of Bayern’s wonderkids to North Western France on a two-year loan.  His explosiveness would have given me a different option to the left sided Inside Forward Jimmy Cabot or central Deep Lying Forward Gaëtan Courtet.

But the joy of signing Alphonso quickly turned to tears as he snapped his leg on his pre-season debut:

As the image above shows, I was able to cancel the deal due to de-selecting the defaulted ‘Loan cannot be terminated’ clause when negotiating with Bayern.  Based on my interactions at the time I appreciate this move would not have been made by everyone, fellow FMers like TheFmNewby, James and Dan would have done things differently.  But I simply did not want to pay for Alphonso to sit around injured as my top earner for 5 months.  In just the statutory 28 days, Alphonso Davies had been and gone.  Disaster.

To further the misery in the final week of Pre-Season, Club Chairman Loïc Féry accepted a €13.25m bid from FC Köln for Fonsinho - a player who I signed 18 months previously for €230k.  It’s great profit, from a player who flourished with me in his short spell.  8 goals and 10 assists in his debut Ligue 1 season meant he would be sorely missed in 2020/21.

Fonsinho’s sale and injuries to both Gaëtan Courtet’s (last season’s top scorer) and Jimmy Cabot resulted in us going into the first two games of the season with a completely different three-man attack from last season.  It’s no surprise then that we failed to score in back-to-back 0-1 defeats.  The second season syndrome was now coming to the forefront of my mind as we headed for an inevitable relegation dogfight.

Or were we?

We unequivocally rose up the table, six wins on the bounce after those two defeats. Eleven league wins and six draws, the only blip an away defeat Vs Paris Saint Germain. Take that Ole Gunnar Solskjær!


The Fibra Battleground

Achilles Goss’ Lorient have improved, but how and why?  My immediate thought was to turn to ‘fibra’ as an explanation for the upwardly mobile performances of my team.  As mentioned in my introductory post:

“I don't want to restrict myself in terms of recruitment…like the previous two years.  I will not feel guilty if I want that luxury flair player or tricky winger.  However, I want to get ample fibra in the positions and roles that matter.

[A brief description on the concept of fibra and how I use it as a recruitment strategy was introduced a couple of years ago: here).

So what roles am I trying to fill with adequate fibra?  Answer: the central spine of the team aka the fibra battleground; Central Defence, Central Midfield and the Central Striker role.  These players typically situate themselves in areas on the pitch where you’d want players to show a bit more fight.  It’s no coincidence that, in reality softer, less aggressive players get pushed out wide.  So, for those central roles I am placing great emphasis on the below attributes (that I interpret to encapsulate fibra):

  • Aggression - the willingness to immerse themselves in the physical battle, I always imagine a high rating here is like having the ‘Get Stuck In’ team instruction permanently on.  Highly aggressive players just love to get involved.

  • Bravery - the willingness to put his body on the line for his team.  In the match engine, this is often demonstrated as a goal saving block or that ridiculous defensive recovery.  But it can also be the desire to get on the end of an offensive chance (see example GIF further on in this post).

  • Determination - The desire to dig deep, even in the face of initial setbacks.  A high determined set of players will increase the chances of turning a losing position into a draw or a win.

  • Teamwork - to work within a tactical system and style of play.  Any style, anywhere, is benefited by having players that follow suit.

  • Work Rate - Like the above, any team is benefited from having players who give their absolute everything.  It’s no good having a Ferrari-Maserati engine…to only drive it in 2nd gear.

But after looking at my team’s progression in fibra over the last three years, the gains are minimal:

From a First Team perspective, our collective fibra has been more-or-less steady at a player average of 64-65 fibra over the three years.  We have seen a slight rise though in the ‘fibra battleground’ roles, where we now average 70 fibra per position (out of a possible 100).

However, now that I have money (from the Fonsinho deal and ‘Guerreiro’s Gift’), I can go out and sign some fibra intensive players at long last.  Much of my strong start can be attributed to the late-in-the-day transfers of Enzo Crivelli (81 fibra) & Assane Dioussé (63 fibra) for a combined total of €5.5m.  Both are strong mentally, with the addition of being very good elsewhere (Physically & Technically).  They are also stereotypical Lorient signings too, as both players were picked up from Ligue 2, due to Caen & Saint-Étienne’s relegation in my simulated FM seasons.  I like to think, in save narrative terms, that they have a point to prove in France…and boy are they doing it!  Between themselves, Enzo and Assane have been match winners multiple times this season already…

Enzo Crivelli (81 fibra).

Assane Dioussé (63 fibra).

Enzo Crivelli has slotted straight into our setup as a Deep Lying Forward, he’s making the support role work a bit better due to his traits of dropping deeper and playing with his back to goal. He’s up for the fight, as his debut goal Vs Stade Rennais demonstrates. Fibra, yeh boy…

Enzo Crivelli, 9 goals from 16 starts (all comps). Here is his first…

Assane Dioussé introduction has been similarly impressive, an average rating of 7.26 with four goals and six assists from sixteen starts (all comps). All from a variety of roles: Box To Box midfield, Ball Winning Midfielder & Central Midfield Attack…he can do it all!

There’s been some wonderful passes and exquisite finishes, but Assane Dioussé also does the rough side well.


What’s Next?

As I sit on an overall balance of €1.5m, the club continues to haemorrhage money like it’s going out of fashion.  But we head into the second half of the season with a real chance at securing European football for 2021/22.  This would certainly see us consolidate a secure financial position, perhaps allowing me to fill the team with even more fibra too.  Furthermore, qualification would also be enough to convince me commit to a new contract with FC Lorient (my current deal expires in the Summer).  Can Goss’ Lorient do it?

As always, to find out what happens next on OITNB follow me on Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper), on FM Slack (#fmgrasshopper)…or on here for the next post.

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.

FM Grasshopper

"Guerreiro’s Gift" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19

Previously on Orange Is The New Black, Achilles Goss kept faith with his players.


Ole.jpg

Better than Ole Gunnar Solskjær?

"No" - the answer to the above question.

In the last two editions of Football Manager I have posed similar questions to myself, comparing my exploits to the managerial feats of José Mourinho at Inter Milan & Osvaldo Zubeldía’s Estudiantes. I’m unsure if it’s a sign of regression, or the state of things here at FC Lorient…but my in-game persona, Achilles Goss, failed to beat Ole Gunnar Solskjær to the 2019/20 Ligue 1 Manager of The Year award. Despite a successful season, with Lorient retaining their place in France’s top tier and exceeding board & fan expectations: Solskjær won. A manager who improved Lille from 15th place to 6th and won nothing, hardly justifying the award is it?

Never mind, my second season in Football Manager 2019 has been a blast. We stayed up and played some good football in the process…perhaps a little too brazen at times (going six months without an away win) but I’ve enjoyed it all the same. It’s even led me to reject the summer advances of En Avant Guingamp, Stuttgart & OL. I’ve decided to honour my Lorient contract…which means at least one more year here in the North West of France.

But ending the season €6.5m in debt reminds me of the task at hand, Goss’ Lorient aren’t out of the woods just yet. However, a gift awaits…


Season 2019/20

It was an unspectacular 2nd half of the season, where we struggled for consistency.  We won the last four remaining home games, whilst ending the season on a 6-match losing streak away from home.  It painfully highlights that my tactic needs perfecting, which will be a central focus as I head into pre-season.

But let's face it: a 7th placed finished has surpassed my initial expectations for the season, we were never in a relegation scrap as we pushed for Europe in the final weeks. The theme of 'Trust' from my previous blog post was undeniably rewarded as nine players from the previous Ligue 2 season started in our XI on the final day of the season (a 3-1 home win to relegate Nice).

The climax to season 2.

N°1 en Bretagne!

I am also happy with the output I am getting from my trio of attackers: IF-DLF-W.  Central Striker Gaëtan Courtet equalling his league goal scoring tally for last season with 18 goals.  Also, big outputs from Fonsinho 8 goals/10 assists and Cabot with a league topping 60 key passes for the season.  I am also happy with Victorien Angban who made the central midfield slot his own as a Ball Winning Midfielder on support duty.

Areas to strengthen are clearly at Right Back, as temporary solution Christophe Jallet retires after a year back at Lorient.  Also, my loan players: Younousse Sankharé, Alexis Blin and Facundo Colidio depart meaning that vacancies need to be filled centrally in midfield and upfront.


Guerreiro’s Gift

Now on to the subject matter of today’s title.  As mentioned in the intro, our debt had progressively grown over the last 12 months.  Despite 19 of our 20 home attendances of 2019/20 being full capacity crowds of 17,076 fans, it's still not enough revenue coming into the club when combined with the meagre TV money that French clubs receive.  Achilles Goss' FC Lorient are in a Catch-22 right now: we need to invest in improvements to the team in order to stay competitive (thus becoming more commercially attractive for future investment), but also manage the debt sensibly.

The task at hand was laid before me as I finished my inaugural season back in France’s top flight:

I'm accepting of the fact that I will need to sell in order to buy, it's actually proving a good challenge within the save.  However, there was still one card up my sleeve yet to be played.  Something I have been aware of since Day 1 of the save: the 20% of Dortmund's Raphaël Guerreiro's next transfer, who played for FC Lorient for 3 years during 2013-2016.

To view Transfer Clauses, visit the 'Transfers' screen and head to 'Clauses'.  You will notice the currency symbol where clauses can be 'bought out' or ‘cashed out’.  This means your Board have negotiated with other clubs to end the arrangement and this works for both incoming and outgoing clauses. 

E.g. You may have signed a guy and agreed to pay the selling club X amount after 20 league goals.  You can buy yourself out of this agreement for a lump sum, which will be cheaper than if you let the clause run its course.

In the case of Raphaël Guerreiro, I will only get 20% of the next transfer once he is signed by another club…so the fee and timing of that money coming in are outside of my control.  Something which has been frustrating me over the last 2 years, as I patiently waited for bids to arrive…whilst casually spiralling into further debt!  However, my Board has been negotiating a ‘cash-out’ during this time, and after viewing this screen over the course of 18 months I can see that there are good moments to exercise these deals.  With the below factors influencing the cash-out value:

  1. Age.  Guerreiro is moving into his prime years.  My observations lead me to believe that the clause's cash-out is dictated by how close a player is to his ability cap (CA/PA).

  2. Similarly, the value changing could be based around more factors than just age/ability, perhaps additional factors that influence transfer value…such as: remaining contract length & wage.

  3. Time in the season.  The value increased over the two years in the approach to every transfer window.  In fact, sometimes the clause was not even available to sell.  Leading me to think that the Board negotiated different deals each time on the lead up to windows.

  4. Interested clubs.  Another factor that seemed to boost the cash-out value was the number of clubs interested in a permanent transfer.  At the end of January 2019 (when still in Ligue 2), Guerreiro's cash-out value was around €7.8m due to the European Heavyweights of Barcelona, Man City, & PSG all being interested in him.  At the time, I let this run the full course of the January Transfer Window (it rose from €5.65m to €7.8m in this month alone) and missed out on the highest cash-out option offered to me over the 2 years of observation.

Guerreiro's cash-out value (January 2019-June 2020)

So, I've decided to finally cash-out at €6.7m in June 2020, a million euros less than 18 months ago.  Why?  Because I simply need the money right now.  I couldn't work on €106k with a key player retiring and 3 players loans expiring, Season 3 would have been more challenging than Season 2!  It was simply time to exercise Guerreiro's gift.  I’m not frustrated by the outcome either, this particular clause on FM has been enjoyable to see play out and perhaps somebody, somewhere, can take note and use it to cash-out at the optimum moment.


New Signings

With the Guerreiro money and €3.5m sponsorship arriving to see us out of the red, I’ve been able to invest in a permanent Right Back. Darko Todorovic arriving with a deal rising to €2.5m. Darko moved from RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig in-game last season for €6.5m, so signing him for circa 60% less a year later is good value.

I have my new 2020 scouting team to thank, as I wanted to move quick in the transfer market by using the short-term focus option in the scouting screen. The team is now led by Gérard Bonneau, who is a great target for any scouting team (see below). Underneath him I have recruited Pierre Aubame as an African scout, together I hope they can prompt me to look at some fine talent.

In advanced of the move to bring in Darko Todorovic, I had arranged pre-contract deals with two young midfielders, who I hope can fill the void in central midfield: Agustín Palavecino & Luca Valzania.

Agustín Palavecino - €0m

Luca Valzania - €0m

I see Palavecino as a Deep Lying Playmaker and Valzania as a more Box-to-Box type of player in my 4141, but both free signings are still a bit risky. Palavecino has never played in a top-flight match (as he hails from the Primera B Nacional in Argentina) and Luca Valzania has only made a few cameo appearances for Atalanta in Serie A.

There’s around €200k left in the transfer budget for the back-up Striker. I could also explore the loan market and see if I can find value there or sell to buy. But the gift of Raphaël Guerreiro has certainly helped me out in this save, merci mon ami.

As always, to find out what happens next on OITNB follow me on Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper), on FM Slack (#fmgrasshopper)…or on here for the next post.

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.

FM Grasshopper