First off, I know there is a lot of overlap in the initial stage of this post and my earlier post regarding Value For Money. The older post still isn’t 100% complete and in hindsight, I should have released each region as an individual post instead of making it one huge post.
Secondly, with interest in the MLS rising due to the guys like Lampard and Gerrard moving there, I decided to give the league a go myself, which in turn helped me discover this little exploit, loophole or whatever you want to call it. Now I would like to stress this isn’t a game-breaking exploit, but just a neat way to make some extra cash or get potentially great players cheap.
Value for money; a brief introduction
In order to navigate and exploit the transfer market, you need to know the products available to said market. This is where your scouting network comes in, constantly scouring various leagues and nations for talent that you can bring into your side. An ideal scenario would consist of talent that you can bring in for a good price with potential re-sale profit.
My own scouting network is geared towards spotting the best talent as it emerges, scouts with knowledge in a particular country will be my eyes in that country. I will scout the major leagues for knowledge of the best players and scouts in the youth competitions to pick to grab the young players early, for cheaper and potential re-sale values are massive.
Investing the time and effort in to doing this correctly can help compensate for what is at the moment a terrible system of bringing youth in from academies in which you have little control of. Completing your own recruitment from around the world will bring a lot of benefits and start to build up your sides moneyball success.
Ideally, you want value for money when scouting players. Value for Money (VfM) is an economic term used to assess whether or not an organisation has obtained the maximum benefit from the goods and services it acquires and/or provides, within the resources available to it. Roughly translated to football terms, have you obtained the best players available to you for the least money?
Applying the concept to FM; the variables
Ability of the existing players available within a region
When applying the idea to FM, there is a plethora of variables we need to take into account when determining value for money. For starters, there is the actual quality of the players involved. Are the players good enough to compete and are there enough quality players to make it worthwhile scouting a region? If the players are not good enough for your level or there are only a few players around who can compete, a certain region is not worth scouting.
Potential ability of the newgens available within a region
We also need to look at the possibility of quality newgens in a specific region. If a region contains nations with high ratings for youth players, it’s a good idea to send your scouts there to unearth new diamonds in the rough before anyone else does. When you find them before the competition does, it increases your chances of actually signing them.
This basically means we need to check out the Youth Rating FM14 gives specific nations. This Youth Rating influences how likely specific nations are to produce an amount of quality regens; the average number of regens who can become world class players or higher reputated players in the future. A nation with better Youth Rating will over time produce regens with higher standard than a nation with lower level. But it is not a definite matter that the nation will constantely produce the best regens, as this is also tied to club reputations, their youth facilities and chance.
The number of quality regens coming through from one nation with superb youth rating will therefore increase the possibility to find better regens quicker than in a nation with low youth rating. What that means is that the chances of youth in Brazil becoming worldwide names are much higher than in South Africa for example.
Transfer-sums for the players within a region
Whilst on the subject of signing players, value for money also means getting good players at low prices. Value is partially determined by the reputation of a nation and its leagues and partially by the club’s reputation. Signing players from smaller leagues generally means you can get them cheaper than players from higher profile leagues. The same applies to the newgens, usually the players from higher profile leagues are more expensive than players from low profile leagues.
Wages for the players within a region
Similarly, we have to take the reputation factors into account when trying to determine the wages players will command upon transfering to our club. If these youngsters are incredibly expensive in terms of wages, perhaps they form a risky and valuable investment, whereas lower wages would make a transfer less risky and more profitable.
Availability of players within a region
Another factor to take into account is the availability of players. This does not mean if a club is willing to sell a specific player, but if there are conditions to the actual transfer such as Work Permits or age limitations. For instance, South American rules dictate that players cannot move to Europe unless they are 18 years of age, which is a serious hinderance when scouting for youths. Similarly, many of these South Americans require Work Permits to move to the UK leagues.
Commercial value of players within a region
The final factor we need to consider is the commercial value of a specific player. It’s not a deal-breaking factor in my eyes, but one that could and should be considered regardless. Some players are, metaphorically, worth their weight in gold (otherwise you’d just sign Anderson from Man Utd, the fat bastard would make you filthy rich) because of commercial reasons. Japanese players tend to bring in extra merchandising revenue, the same applies to a big name signing.
A brief summary; our factors for Value for Money
So to summarise, when determining value for money, we look at the following factors:
- Ability of the existing players available within a region;
- Potential ability of the newgens available within a region;
- Transfer-sums for the players within a region;
- Wages for the players within a region;
- Availability of players within a region;
- Commercial value of players within a region.
How can we exploit the fuck out of the MLS?
In a nutshell…
So what is there to exploit in the MLS? In a nut-shell, the whole intake system. The US tends to produce the odd classy player but the average intake there is pretty decent and can be compared to most mid-level European leagues. Now let’s have a look at some players.
Both players are fairly decent youngsters, despite the scouts rating of them. Now this is where the exploit comes into play, in twofold. For starters, every player based at an MLS clubs’ academy can be signed for peanuts. We’re talking 20k at best. That Garduno lad I linked? 14k for him. That’s a steal when you consider most MLS newgens come through with a starting ability of around 80 and there is a decent chance they have a high enough potential to be an asset for your team.
The second bit of the exploit is located in the non-MLS sides. Take Gene Juarez, the first player I linked above. As soon as a player moves to a side located outside the MLS, they become glorified amateur players, which means they can be signed for next to nothing. This also applies to any players coming through the intake at these clubs.
The one downside to signing US-based players is that you cannot sign them until they turn 18. In some cases, that means waiting two to three seasons before the players are actually at your club. However, when you see how some of these players turn out, don’t you agree it’s worth the wait?
All of them started out at either academy clubs or smaller US clubs, all of them moved abroad for free or fees under 100k. Ofcourse, not every player you pick up in the US becomes a world beater like these guys, but at fairly low costs, it’s surely worth a gamble?
Examining the factors
Now in order to examine the effectiveness of the exploit, let’s have a look at the various factors I’ve listed above and see how this one holds up.
In terms of the ability of the existing players available within the region, we’re fairly easily done. This is an exploit solely aimed at newgens coming through, so the existing players within the region are none of our concern. The game automatically creates a load of newgens for the academy and non-MLS clubs if they have no players assigned to them, so yeah, a non-factor in this equation.
In terms of the potential ability of the newgens available within the region, the US holds up nicely when compared to most European leagues. It’s obviously below the absolute top, but there are often quite a few decent US players breaking through the ranks of the MLS sides. Even if you’re not a world class side, you can definitely find one or two cheap gems to strengthen your own squad.
In terms of the transfer-sums for the players within the region, we’re doing very well. Most players can be signed dirt cheap. Free transfers or deals under 20k are not uncommon for quality newgens. What’s not to love? Even if a player comes up short, the chances of selling him on and still turning a profit are pretty decent.
In terms of the wages for the players within the region, you’re going to be less pleased as a smaller side. Most US players commend decent wages, as in 2k to 5k a week. If they turn out to be world class, that’s a small investment, but if you’re on a tight budget, it’s going to be a gamble.
In terms of the availability of players within the region, if you’re active in a country where players require work permits, US players tend to require one. If they are good enough, they will generally be active in the senior or U21 international side, so they tend to get these work permits, but still, it’s an annoyance. On the bright side, many US players spawn players with dual nationalities. If you’re fortunate, one of your desired players has a European passport as well.
In terms of the commercial value of players within the region, I am not 100% sure yet. Whilst there is definitely proof that American feeder clubs increase your commercial income, I am not entirely sure that signing a high profile American player has similar effects.
How to make it work?
That’s really easy. Just make sure you select the MLS in a save-game, either as a playable league or running the background, either way will work.