A few followers on Twitter have asked me what I search when signing a player in FM16. In truthfulness the criteria for signing a player differs in each transfer deal I've made. This is primarily due to reputation and resources being different year on year. I've been on an upward curve within my FM16 save at Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ) and each year has bought about an increased financial capital. I am also [rather unintentionally] becoming increasingly nitpicky on transfer deals. Today's blog outlines my current criteria, as I approach the start of Season 7 (2021/22).
The hardest part of any transfer deal is finding the right target(s). Real life clubs have a variety of methods, notably 'old school' techniques like scouts watching targets in games but also online viewing via scouting tools like Scout7. In FM, it is not too dissimilar, we can watch games at various speeds with various viewing options within the match engine. It's effectively our tickets into the stadia and any seat in that stadium. I try to watch signings in the match engine to see how they perform based on AI instructions. Sometimes I do not learn a lot but on other occasions I can get something out of it. For example:
- How useful a player is in a particular role/position
- How they compete in the 1:1 battle with players. i.e. how do they compete with quickness/strength of the opposition etc
- How do they move outside of possession. Important imo, as most of the game is played when said player does not have the ball
For those unaware, it's simply a case of clicking on the 'V' during the fixture list screen. Note - you can (quite rightly) only be at one place at any one time...so only one match can be viewed per day.
Another method is the Player Search Function. If I was to quantify my time in FM, I'd say that I probably spend about 75% of my playing time in the Player Search Function. A 4 hour stint in the weekday evenings, could be spent solely ploughing through the thousand of search results on this screen. It's probably one of the reasons why I am on Season 7 whereas other FMers like Guido Merry are 20 years plus into the future. There's no right/wrong way to play FM, and that's the beauty of it.
So, the search screen can yield thousands of possible player searches. I can't even begin to quantify actually how many, but here are my frequent 5 for finding talent and value:
(1) Finding value I: contract expiry + squad status
This is a much cherished search. Especially in the early days of my GCZ save, where transfer and wage budgets were ridiculously tight. I find that contract expiry is the single most important influence on dictating the ease of an AI club selling a player. So the search is something like:
The above search shows those players that are not considered first teamers at their clubs and who expire within a year. I guarantee you that those AI clubs will sell those players listed at either market value or below. This is how I've found value.
(2) Finding value II: value Vs minimum fee release clauses
Anther way to maintain value when holding a bigger budget is to search by Minimum Fee Release Clauses and sort by value. Below I have left Value unfiltered and can see some BIG buys, which I would consider full of value. Check out 25 year old Matheus Pereira, who is valued extremely close to his minimum fee release clause...bargain!
(3) Hardworking Youth: Professional + age
As I argue time and again, hard work beats talent. Professionalism therefore is the holy grail Personality trait that you should install at your club. Now this search can swing both ways, you might want an older statesman to come in and tutor your youth. But another solution is to work with upcoming youth who are already willing to work hard in training. I like this search, particularly when viewing players' mental attributes. We can see some real gems below, who I know I can develop with relative ease:
(4) Two footedness: right foot + left foot
Readers may also know that I am a a huge fan of two footed players (as argued here), both in game AND in real life. It's makes such a difference and it does translate into FM's match engine (even though some dispute this). If I am going to include a niche search in today's blog, well here it is:
I've sorted by 'First Touch' here in the Technical attributes. These players will generally be proficient with the ball and you should make use of this in the Player/Team instructions.
Searching by attributes is very important in my searches, however there is no one search I frequently do. It all depends on what I am looking for based on: age, position, role etc. However, there are some universal attributes that I rate:
I wouldn't necessarily search all 4 together, and I wouldn't normally have 15 or above as criteria. However these are important 'universal' attributes. (Positional focused searches give priority to other attributes such as Finishing for a Striker and Marking for a defender). So why these 4:
Natural Fitness - FM's most important and underrated attribute? I think so, it could be the reason why your £30m signing makes only 15 appearances a season at 95% fitness or above.
First Touch - How often do we see moves fall apart in the match engine because a player has a poor first touch? There's a reason why First Touch improves in real life as you move up the football pyramid. It's the first sign of a good player and a demonstration of his or hers hard work and learning.
Determination - I want my players to dig deep when needed in a game. I want them to be like their manager, driven in pursuit for silverware. In terms of younger players at tutoring age, I am not fussed with this attribute...as I know I can increase it overtime with tutoring.
Work Rate - I want my players to work for the whole 90 minutes. The intensity in theory should be the same in minute 1 as it is in minute 90. There are player roles where this attribute isn't vital (Enganche for example). But my fluid controlling style at GCZ requires higher than normal work rate.
The usefulness of all of the above is dictated by how good your Scouting Network is. It's why sometimes the AI finds that gem Regen from Tibet, whereas your search did not show him. The player search yields those players within your 'sphere of knowledge'. Below is my world knowledge in 2021:
Make no mistake, 21% knowledge of the world is poor...especially after 6 full seasons. My GCZ save isn't about finding those regens, it's about developing homegrowns. In addition there are ways to find those players outside of the Player Search, which is probably another blog in itself.
It would be interesting to hear about your searches and also how far into the World Knowledge you've 'completed'. It's certainly something I want to consider 100%ing in a future FM save. As always, thank you for reading.