If you have the system in place, you can start to make a profit by using what I call “sign-to-sell”. This basically means that certain players you sign should be players with either high potential or a high reputation, who are undervalued at the moment you sign them. If your team is successful, this rubs off on every player, even unused substitutes, meaning their value will increase. If needed, you can loan these players away for a season or so to inflate their value.
Naturally, you need to find the right kind of players to make deals like that. In my eyes, there are three kinds of players suitable for such deals.
1. The emerging young starlet
Take for instance my good friend Shûji Ike.
As you can see, Ike joined on a free transfer as a promising youngster, having completed three successful seasons in the J-League and having broken into the national side. He came in January, on a free transfer and on relatively low wages. He stayed at my own club for 6 months to hone his skills, was loaned away to Udinese for the next season and had a decent season in the Serie A, considering this is a young foreigner, making his debut in Italy. He impressed Napoli sufficiently to earn a lucrative transfer to Italy.
Considering the fact that Udinese paid his wages for that second season, I did not pay a transfer sum for him and his wages were relatively low (under 10k a week), you can see I have made a massive profit on this player.
Is Shûji Ike any good? You be the judge of that…
Personally, I feel that Ike is a solid defender. Good enough to play in the Serie A, yes. Perhaps even good enough to compete in the Champions League. Is he worth 14 million? No way. He’s just a prime example of a player who was signed just before he made a name for himself on the international stage and was sold on when his loan ended and his value rose a bit further, with his parent club being a Champions League winning side and all…
2. The established international, available for a limited fee or a free transfer
A second example would be Triantafyllos Siamantas, a dynamic Greek wing-back. Is this guy any good? Again, you can be the judge of that…
This is an example of a prime player, who for some reason was released by Olympiacos, probably a dispute over money. Siamantas was not cheap to acquire, commanding wages of 50k a week, totaling roughly 2.6 million a year, not including other fees. Siamantas was good enough to reach first team however and he’d be good enough to play for almost any side in the world.
He was a more expensive investment, but still relatively cheap. As you can see, his value was at around 10 million upon signing. Since the player had already peaked before signing, his value was relatively stable. I generally don’t sell a player like that, unless I get an offer that is considerably over the market value he represents. If a player is part of a winning team, the AI seems to hype said player and this was the result.
A deal like this would not have been lucrative, had I paid an actual transfer sum for Siamantas. In that case my profit margin would have been very low. We did not really need another left wing-back at the time, but he offered a decent investment with a very real chance to make a profit. An internationally renowned player, available for a limited fee and in the prime of his professional career.
3. Rejects from a top academy
The last group I take a punt on when wheeling and dealing are rejects from a top academy. If players are released by top sides, either domestic or international, I tend to have my scouts check them out if they haven’t already. If they come up as 3 stars or more in terms of potential, they are worth a punt. If my prized coaching staff are able to get the best out of such a player, his value will sky-rocket and I can turn a profit.
Incidentally, this seems to work best with real players. Most of them have been given a decent potential ability by virtue of being part of a top club’s academy, so the raw potential is present. A combination of good coaching, regular action in either the youth or reserve squad or a possible loan and perhaps a bit of luck will see a before average player turn into a decent talent, which means he can be turned into a profit. Let’s look at a prime example, Augustine Loof.
A former Dutch youth international, seen as a decent talent by PSV but ultimately released because he was not good enough. I took a chance with him. My coaching staff went to work with the lad and he came a long way. He wasn’t quite good enough for my team, as evidenced by the few moments he saw action on the pitch.
He did however develop into a player good enough for the Sierra Leone national team, which made Udinese offer us a deal. After some fierce negotiations, I managed to turn Loof into a healthy profit of 8 million.
This last method is a tricky one, as not every player is a guaranteed hit. In fact, it’s a bit hit and miss, with a success-rate of around 50%, which is far lower in terms of results than the net yields of the other categories of players. Because of the low costs of such players, it’s worth a punt though. And be honest, my financial results don’t lie…