Previously in Return to La Plata, Ángel Bastardo introduced Nico Rosales: the jewel of La Plata.
Even the overly ambitious Ángel Bastardo would acknowledge that the most significant achievement in his first 3 years in La Plata has been to avoid the sack. Obviously trophies are a clear and quantifiable measure of success in Football Manager...but satisfaction can also come from moving through the struggles.
Make no mistake, the Superliga 2019/20 was at times a struggle. The mammoth campaign saw 24 teams play 46 games each...a domestic feast of 506 league matches culminating in 1,331 goals, 12,517 fouls and 58 stadium sellouts. For all the peaks and troughs that came about, Bastardo's Estudiantes finished up 3rd in the league. Progress from previous 6th and 5th place finishes.
Today we look at how Season 3 concluded, before moving on to a brief financial summary of how things stand in La Plata three years in. Vamos!
We struggled in the 'Big 5' matches during the 2nd half of the season (especially at home Vs Independiente), but I take some pride in going away to both Boca and River Plate and coming away with a point in each. However, it was the 12 domestic games unbeaten during February to April that put us in contention of a top 3 finish.
We have to be happy with the progress shown this season, we pretty much played a game every 3-4 days for months on end, and showed a resilience to dig in when it mattered. Squad selections were often switched to accommodate another successful Copa Libertadores Group Stage...
2020 Copa Libertadores
It was almost a perfect Group Stage...2-1 up away at Santos with 1 minute left on the clock. Then BOOM. A Diego Polenta own goal and a freakish long shot on 90+3 mins saw us lose 3-2. Never mind, we topped Group B and our reward is a two legged tie against two-time champion Atlético Nacional of Colombia.
For the first time in this save, we're through to the 7th Round. We knocked out Boca Juniors and Sarmiento de Junín with tight 2-1 wins. Like most Argentine fans, I am not really making much of an effort with this competition...but now that I am just 3 rounds away from reaching a Final, I may as well start trying. Up next: Atlético Tucumán in late August.
A Fistful of Dollars
I intend to make this the first in a trilogy of financial summaries. The 1st is obviously today’s post at the end of Season 3. The sequel will probably follow after we conclude Season 5 (i.e. the mid-point of my save). Before finishing up with a post at the twilight of my time in La Plata (Seasons 9 or 10).
Before we discuss the finer details of club growth, I thought I would show some key facts as part of an infographic in order to refresh our memories of Seasons 1-3:
You will see from the above that we have made a net profit of €5m on transfers during the last three years. Obviously this isn't a huge amount as we've been extremely risk adverse in our recruitment, often limiting ourselves to 3-4 signings per season. But I get the sense we are on the verge of making major financial gains in the Transfer Market in the near future, mainly due to the age profile of our successful(ish) squad.
This was demonstrated by the sale of 18 year old Nico Rosales who left for FC Porto of Portugal in January 2020. As discussed last time out, Nico was my brightest prospect...but I knew that he would probably be the first to leave and in no way realise his potential in La Plata. So we negotiated, what I think is, a beast of a deal:
In total, the guaranteed upfront money Estudiantes will receive is €3.5m...but the potential short term income is likely to be €6m: a fistful of dollars! In addition, further long term financial gains could be made as La Plata will receive 50% of whatever profit is realised from Porto’s original €4.2m fee. So €6m could well end up being €16m, €26m, €36m...who knows! All I hope is that this money is received before my save is over.
We’ve got a whole host of 17-18 year olds, like Nico, ready to step into the First Team. For this reason, successful players of 2019/20 like Maxi Romero and Emanuel Reynoso could be sold on for huge profits. Both attracted interest in January 2020 from the riches of the English Premier League. Bastardo's loyalty does not rest with his players, rather the bank notes that they can bring him.
Financial Highlights 2017-2020
So, our 3 year financial summary is found below. We opened up this save in July 2017 with an Overall Balance of €6.5m, but these reserves were always going to take a hit as Bastardo improved the playing squad and fleshed out La Plata's backroom staff. Things were not helped when previous Club Chairman Juan Sebastián Verón took out a TWENTY THREE YEAR bank loan of €15.2m! This equates to an outgoing of €55k a month (€660k pa) until 2040. Unfortunately we cannot pay off this debt in one lump sum...so, as discussed earlier on in the series, Bastardo paid to get rid of Verón.
Without the meddling of Verón in his way, Bastardo has had free reign on financial matters: increasing revenue by 74% in 3 years, with player sales contributing heavily. Juan Bautista Cascini's sale to River Plate for €4m upfront cash really helped balance the books at the start of Season 2. But Leonardo Jara's sale of €2.7m (again to River Plate) and the Nico Rosales deal (mentioned earlier) have taken us to a secure financial level.
Furthermore, the wage bill has been kept at a reasonable level...only rising 18% in 3 years. This is mainly due to a strict wage cap of €50k per month on playing staff (around €12.5k a week), which sees Estudiantes sit 6th in the salary table. No prizes for guessing who sits 1st and 2nd in the salary table: River Plate and Boca Juniors of course!
So can we go one step further, by continuing the Marxist wage structure and win a league title in 2021? OR will I have to eat into some of our early profits by signing 1-2 marquee players in order to win silverware? As always, stay tuned to my save updates to see what we do and how we do it. You can find me over on:
- Twitter: @FM_Grasshopper
- Slack: #fmgrasshopper
- Return to La Plata, the story so far: www.fmgrasshopper.com/fm18
As always, thanks for reading/sharing & caring.