"Las Joyas de Bastardo" - Return to La Plata #FM18 #WeAreTheCommunity


25% of my 10 year FM18 save has already passed, and we've won absolutely nothing!  However, Ángel Bastardo came mightily close to reaching his 1st final.  In fact, we were just 2 minutes away from going through on away goals to South America's great club event: the 2019 Copa Libertadores final(s)...until €8.5m rated Maycon gave Corinthians a 1-0 away win in La Plata.  In truth, Corinthians played the better football over the two legs...but it was still gutting to go out after being so close.

But I'm determined not to be too downbeat in today's post, we're still in a job and we're looking to the future, with Youth Development being today's focus.  Before that though, I'll update you on the progress of my third season in La Plata which has reached its mid-point.  Vamos.

Season 2019/20 - progress?

Bastardo sticks with the 4141 this season, the only major outgoing was Leonardo Jara who moved to River Plate for €2.7m (a profit of €1.4m made).  In came replacement Emanuel Brítez on a 2 year loan deal from Unión de Santa Fe.  We also invited Carlos Auzqui back to Estudiantes on a similar 2 year loan deal, ending his 18 month stay at River Plate.  Another La Plata return occurred too: Walter Bou (ex-Gimnasia La Plata striker) arrived on a Free Transfer from Boca Juniors.  Also, Emanuel Reynoso finally grabbed that No.10 shirt:

The annual tradition continues: Estudiantes de La Plata Squad Numbers 2019/20.

2019/20 Argentine Superliga:

We finished 6th in our 1st league season, and we followed up with a 5th place finish last time out.  So a 4th place finish is the next logical step right?  Well, that's where we currently reside at the mid-point of the 46 game 2019/20 league season:

Despite the little blip of three consecutive losses in late December, we've handled the relentless schedule really well.  Fernando Zuqui as our Wide Midfielder on Attack is leading the way with 9 league goals in 19 games.  Maxi Romero is not far behind, with a year of fitness under his belt [after his disastrous start with injuries in La Plata], he's bagged 7 league goals in 13 starts.  My No.10 Dreamweaver, Emanuel Reynoso, has created 18 scoring chances in the league and provided 6 assists...he's also waded in with 5 goals too.

2019 Copa Libertadores

Maxi Romero saved his best football for the continental stage though, scoring 9 goals in the first 4 knockout games.  He sadly blanked both times in the Semi Final matches, young Carlo Lattanzio getting the important away goal for La Plata on 89 mins.  But as mentioned earlier, Corinthians largely dominated the second leg, with Maycon leading his club to their second consecutive Copa Libertadores final...which they won Vs Boca Juniors.

It was gutting to come so close to reaching the Final(s), but this campaign offered so much joy.  It's especially notable because we only qualified due to San Lorenzo's Copa Argentina win in 2018.

We were the last entrants into the tournament, and one of the last to leave.  Team Bastardo will be back for the 2020 party, as we enter at the Group Stage!

Las Joyas de Bastardo


Now onto the future...

Like most things in FM, I place realism at the forefront of my thinking with regards to youth development.  I try to base my decisions around what I would do in real life (if I was a manager).  The key thing I always have in mind is that: "it's easier to improve a player's strengths, than it is to remove his weaknesses".

Keeping the above quote in mind, decisions regarding youth are naturally easier to make.  I do what's best to improve them and do not:

  • Place great emphasis on whether they fit within my current 1st team tactical setup, roles/mentalities etc.
  • Worry about whether certain attributes are shockingly low.
  • Always listen to my staff...because they often give rubbish advice.

It's worth pointing out that only a small % of the crop of youth will make it into my 1st team…(because they have to be better than what's currently there and/or better than what I can get externally).  A Homegrown XI has always been a Holy Grail for me in FM, so part of the satisfaction I take from youth development is making players better and moving them on.  I'm no hoarder either, I prefer to work with a youth squad...not squads.

In my current save I have worked with three different types of youth:

  • Category A: Those that exist at your club from day 1 of your save (real players).
  • Category B: Those that come in via your annual youth intake (newgens).
  • Category C: Those that come via external recruitment (real or newgen players).

Today I will introduce three players, one from each of the categories above.  I will outline what I have done so far with them, and also predict where I see their career taking them.

Disclaimer: I have looooads of youth that I could introduce to you today (most from Category B), but for the purpose of keeping my post concise...I am sticking to just the three.  They aren't necessarily the best within the Academy (although one certainly is), but all three players chosen today have had a certain level of thought and micro management applied to them.

Let's meet Bastardo's jewels...

Carlo Lattanzio (Category A)

Carlo Lattanzio met Bastardo on Day 1 of the Return to La Plata save, sitting in the Reserves as a 19 year old.  He had good Acceleration and Pace combined with solid scores in Composure and Finishing.  I'll be honest, I didn't see a long term future for Carlo at Estudiantes, but I was certain I could better his game and sell him on in the future.

Carlo Lattanzio in July 2017.

The first thing I did was have him tutored with the experienced head of 35 year old Mariano Pavone, who has a Driven Personality and 18 Determination.  Mariano Pavone also had the 'Shoots With Power' Player Trait, which I didn't really want Carlo to have.  So I opted for the bottom of the two entries when tutoring: "As a member of the team, I think it would be beneficial if you were to take Carlo Lattanzio under your wing and mentor him off the pitch".

I associate 'Shoots With Power' as a trait for a beast of a striker (think Brazil's Hulk).  So I looked at the attribute scores in Long Shots & Strength and saw that Carlo only has 9 and 7 in these attributes.  So I would rather train 'Places Shots' manually for a more delicate finish in the penalty area.  Hence my decision to only take the Personality traits and Determination from Pavone.

The instant impact was that Carlo's Personality changed to Resolute.  I also saw a growth in Determination to 18 and I started training him as an Advanced Forward in the Position/Role training section.  Sadly I never saw huge gains in him and I decided that he needed 1st team football to take that next step during my second season in La Plata.

Carlo was loaned to Argentinos Juniors for the remainder of the 2018/19 season, because the AI promised he'd be a First Teamer in the Advanced Forward role.  Unfortunately the AI lied...and Carlo was rotting in the reserves, which he could be doing with me anyway!  I also noted a drop of 1 attribute score in Determination.  So I immediately recalled him from loan (TIP: always add this clause in)...and the rest is history as I discussed in my previous blog post.

Carlo Lattanzio in 2020.

He's now my 1st choice pacey striker in a more direct 4141.  Carlo offers a different option in games compared to the stronger [and slightly less mobile] Maxi Romero and Walter Bou.  This means Carlo gets plenty of game time, whether I’m chasing a game or notice lethargic opposition CBs.

Appearances: 18 starts (and 17 subs).  Goals: 13

Bastardo's reflection:

+ Successful tutoring with Pavone.
+ Some sublime performances in the FM18 Match Engine.
- Still yet to learn that 'Places Shot' Player Trait, after failing a few months ago.
Carlo has an immediate future in La Plata's 1st team and could potentially move to Europe in the future.

Nico Rosales (Category B)

Nico Rosales is Homegrown from within the La Plata academy (Category B), arriving in my 1st intake during November 2017.  Straight away I could see he was special, with a strong set of Mental attributes, particularly his Decisions and Determination standing out.

Nico Rosales in May 2018.

Nico arrived as a fairly quick and extremely agile player too.  Perfect for a link role in midfield, whether it’s at DM linking the defence or further advanced linking the attack.  So my initial thinking is that he is a future heartbeat of the team.

Seeing that he is natural at DM, and not wanting to waste any of his ability re-training him in another position, I decided to sign 37 year old Walter Erviti to help tutor Nico.  It’s a costly measure, but I had no real suitable tutor and I was craving for him to learn the 'Dictates Tempo' Player Trait.

The downside is that we’d lose some Determination score, but I figured that this could be brought up with future tutoring at a later stage from somebody else.  So we used the top option when tutoring: “As a senior member of the squad, I'd like you to tutor Nico Rosales as I think you can help improve his game"

Usually tutoring lasts around 6 months, but in the case of Nico-Walter it was only around 3 months due to a falling out.  Unfortunately not all of Walter’s Player Traits were passed on, but it was a partial success as Nico could now dictate the tempo of a match.  This was my initial intention and justified the risk I took by losing 3 points of Determination.

Next, I wanted Nico to learn to switch the ball to either flank.  By the time he reaches maturity he should have a solid Passing-Vision combo, and him being central on the pitch at DM means he’d make use of this Player Trait well.  Unfortunately he failed to learn this over 2018, so it’s something I will revisit again over 2020.

The reason for the year gap in re-attempting was because I was conscious that we needed to get Nico’s Determination back up, sooner rather than later.  So I’ve made 37 year old (and soon to be retiring) Israel Damonte his mentor.  The result is an increase of Determination to 17. 

Nico Rosales in January 2020.

Increased gametime has been Nico’s biggest growth factor.  He’s trained and played as a Deep Lying Playmaker on Defend duty and doesnt look out of place in Argentina’s top flight.  He has the highest passing rate in the squad and has already become a heartbeat of my team...at 18 years old.

In my opinion, Nico Rosales will go to the very top of club football and it’s a question of ‘when’ he moves to Europe not ‘if’.  Paris Saint Germain are already interested and are likely to bid within the next two Transfer Windows.  Until that time though, I will work with Nico and continue to make him better.

Appearances: 23 starts (and 18 subs)

Bastardo's reflection:

+ Partial success of tutoring with Erviti & Damonte
+ 91% passing success rate in the 2019/20 Argentine Superliga.
- Still yet to learn that 'Likes To Switch Ball To Other Flank' Player Trait, after failing last year.
Contracted to 2023, Nico will command a fee if he is to leave for Europe and graduate from Team Bastardo.  A future playmaker for the National Team?  I think so.

Lucas Pessarini (Category C)

Lucas Pessarini represents my third category of youth: those that come into the youth team externally.  I found Pessarini when scouting the 2nd tier of Argentina, where he was playing for recently relegated Quilmes in Primera B Nacional.  He made 4 appearances in total during 2017/18, with one of them being a Man Of The Match performance.  With his contract running down, Bastardo moved in to bring him to La Plata.  Here's how he looked in May 2018:

Lucas Pessarini in May 2018.

He was classed as a Young Centre-Back, but I saw an opportunity to work with him and develop him.  He had strong physicals and could also head, mark and tackle...all key for the Centre-Back role.  It's worth noting that I do not think Pessarini has incredible potential, but it goes back to the point I made earlier in this post: the satisfaction I get when I see a player grow and move on.  We are also likely to make a bit of money too, as he signed for €0!

I partnered him with Uruguayan Centre-Back/Full Back Diego Polenta, who has 16 Determination and has a Fairly Determined personality.  Like I did with Carlo Lattanzio/Mariano Pavone, I opted to only take the tutor's Determination and Mentality, as I was reluctant to take the Player Trait of: 'Runs With Ball Down The Left'.  It's not really useful for a Centre-Back.

Lucas Pessarini in January 2020.

The gains have not been incredible, but Lucas Pessarini's Determination has increased to 16.  He's had a year in the youth team, playing 48 times.  This season he has spent 6 months with my First Team squad, sitting on the bench for a number of games  However, he is still not good enough for First Team action.  So for the remainder of 2019/20, I have chosen Club Atlético Huracán as his 6 month loan.  I am hoping that he can get a taste of action there, after the AI stated he'd be a Rotation option.  But don't worry, I have placed a recall option into the deal, if he is not being played.

Appearances: 0

Bastardo's reflection:

+ Has improved, becoming a 'Promising Centre-Back' during 2019.  Now rated as 'Centre Back'.
+ 48 youth team games in 2018/19 and has been recognised by Argentina U20s (12 apps/2 goals)
- Remains mentally poor, which is a huge barrier to making it into Team Bastardo.
I'll be honest, I do not think Lucas can make it here.  But I am keen to see how he does at Huracán in 2020.  He is contracted until 2022, so I am in a position to make money from him...should he get suitors within the next 2 years.

My #FM18 Checklist

Remember this checklist from one of my intro posts?  Don't worry if you cannot, I am not easily offended.

We've actually been meeting (6) and (7)...but there's still some time in achieving the other items.  We're currently miles behind on item (4): my 250 clean sheet target (we're on 44 clean sheets in 2.5 seasons).  This is probably the likeliest to fail.  Grrrr.

If I had to guess what I would complete first, it's perhaps (1) or (2).  But there is an outside chance that Nico Rosales will help me achieve (5) before anything else.  Can 'La joya de Bastardo' come good and lead La Plata’s Golden Generation to glory?  We'll have to wait and see.

Keep up-to-date on my Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper), Slack channel (#fmgrasshopper) or here on my blog (I have a handy URL for all FM18 content: fmgrasshopper.com/fm18).

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring,

FM Grasshopper