Teams like Udinese and Basel are hardly world class teams, filled to the brim with superstars. They are certainly not the teams who compete for the Champions League every season, despite occassional stunts in the tournament. Yet despite all of this, these are teams who excel in a very particular area of the game: the transfer market. While some teams have acquired fame for their overwhelming spending summer after summer —more often than not thanks to the monetary backing of Eastern European or Middle Eastern investors— Udinese and Basel have mastered an investment approach that any Wall Street stockbroker would envy. Their keen eye for scouting young and affordable talents, combined with the common sense to actually field these youngsters instead of letting them rot away in the reserves, allows for these clubs to dramatically increase the market value of their players over relatively short periods of time. In short, these clubs have demonstrated the enviable knack of buying players relatively cheaply, benefiting from their prowess for a couple of seasons, then selling them for a very good price to richer European teams.
To sell or to keep; that is the question
When the top clubs decide to make a play for your players, you know you’re going to have a tough time keeping hold of them. It’s either going to cost you a lot of money to upgrade their contracts, or the constant flirts from these clubs are going to make players unhappy, which could lead to a full-blown morale dip for the entire squad. So when they do come knocking and you either lack the financial resources to upgrade a contract or deem it unwise to do so, you will have to sell, most likely rather reluctantly. There are several factors you need to take into consideration however;
- Can you re-new the contract without harming your financial stability?
- Does your squad possess a replacement or can you acquire one for less money than the transfer-sum you would receive?
- Based on his personality, will the player throw a hissy fit when you reject the transfer offer?
Financial prudency is of the utmost importance
It is quite customary for a player to demand a new contract when you reject an offer from a bigger club. In fact, the frequency of demanding new contracts is getting to a point where it’s becoming quite the nuisance. Re-newing the contracts at the whims of the player group is a dangerous road to go down. For starters, it makes no sense that a player who signed a long term deal immediately wants even more cash everytime a big club comes knocking. Secondly, it can be a quite costly affair. Some players demand wage raises of 200% or more, and that’s not even taking various clauses and signing-on fees into account. Ofcourse, they demand a new deal every single time an offer is rejected, which can in turn lead to you requesting a new feature for FM17.
Since such drastic measures are for now beyond the game’s mechanics, you’ll have to make do with some financial prudency. Evaluate the players worth and what the maximum wage for such a player is. If you already have a replacement lined up and his demands are excessive, it might be better to opt for a sale, but only on your own conditions. In my current save with Temperley, I have a 50k a week maximum for first teamers, as soon as players start demanding more than that, it’s time for them to leave, which means selling them with a year or so left on their contracts.
An interesting feature to include in the contracts of younger players is the automatic contract extension for an X amount of years. As you want your players to stay with you for extended periods of time and preferably on low wages, the option to unilaterally extend their contract for an X amount of years at the same wage as before, not taking recent performances and risen statusses into account is a very interesting one and one you should use.
This player is currently 18 years old and he has signed a long term deal. By the time this contract is running out, he will probably have broken into first team, at which point renewing his contract would be a quite costly affair. The option to renew their contract for ridiculously low wages for three extra years will give you two extra years of first team duty for relatively low wages, before you either have to renew again or sell them off because of excessive wage demands.
Plan ahead; build shadow squads
Squad depth is definitely important, especially when you are managing a team in a league with a fair amount of fixture congestion. When you play two or more games every week, you are going to need plenty of players to keep challenging for silverware on each and every front. Suspensions, injuries and just fatigue are going wreak havoc over the course of the often long and grueling season, so you are going to need a squad with sufficient depth.
Size-wise, I would recommend keeping squad-size to around 25 or so first team players. This is the same amount of players you are generally allowed to register for most competitions, be they domestic or international. You can try to maintain a larger squad of course, but this will often prove difficult because players will demand playing time and if you do not rotate them sufficiently, you could have a dressing room mutiny on your hands. So as a rule of thumb, I would recommend sticking to a squad of 25 players, give or take a few players.
Maintaining such a large squad almost automatically means you have at least one backup for every position and role in your squad, which generally means you already have an immediate replacement for a potentially departing player on board. For the sake of squad depth, I would highly recommend promoting promising youth players where possible and maintaining a scouting list of players you could buy if the situation required it, a so-called shadow squad.
The shadow squad is a continuous project, being updated all the time, especially during transfer windows. It’s a constantly evolving list of alternative options, players you could secure in case of long term injuries or sudden transfers. It doesn’t matter if these are loan deals or actual transfers, as long as you keep a list of players handy. It also makes transfer dealings less stressful as you are already confident in securing replacements.
Prevent nasty talks and dressing room mutiny; have the players sack their agents
If you have played FM for any amount of time, you will have encountered situations in which your own players start doubting your decisions, in which case they most likely send their agent to ask for more money or even discuss a transfer. The frequency with which such events occur has gone up with each new version of FM. The following screen is often a pretence to annoying talks with players, which, handled poorly, might lead to full-blown dressing room mutinies.
In an ideal situation, the game would allow you a bit more freedom to deal with these nagging leeches. Something along the lines of…
Alas, this is not possible. Having the player sack his agent and thus avoiding an utterly uncomfortable talk remains within the realm of possibilities though. Avoid the discussion by persuading the player to sack his agent is a trick that works like a charm.
The logic makes sense, in a strange way. If the agent is the driving force behind a players unhappiness, you can either appease the agent by throwing more and more money in his general direction, or you can remove the irritating factor from the equation by convincing the player his career is being harmed by the poor decisions his agent is making. This is one of the cases where FM’s limited responses actually work in your favour.
Especially if you are a high reputation manager, the player just goes along with it all. Even when the agent makes a valid point and the player is chronically underpaid compared to his team-mates, the player goes along with your scheme 9/10 times.
So talking to your player and actually saying the right things might just prevent that dreaded morale dip that comes with a dressing-room revolt.
When do you sell; timing is everything
Selling your players is all about timing. For example, the best time to sell a player is in the summer, when he’s just done well at a big tournament or had a great league campaign. Everyone in the transfer market has seen how good the player is, which tends to drive the price up and convinces clubs to splash their hard-earned money on players. Similarly, you want to sell players who have reached the peak of their game and are not exactly your star players. The moment when a player reaches the top of his particular hill is like the moment when a stock market peaks, which is the moment you should look to cash in, unless this player is one of your key players and a truly irreplaceable asset.
In FM-terms, it means that the value for silverware-winning squads generally skyrockets. Even average players who are part of a title-winning squad tend to see their market value increase exponentially. That means that if you do want to sell these average players, the end of a successful season is the ideal moment to sell them.
When you do sell; overcharge the hell out of them
In order to make you feel better when you are forced to sell a beloved player, you can and should over-charge the hell out of these top clubs. They can afford to overpay by quite a bit, so you should just make use of their financial situation to help yourself secure the services of a capable of a decent replacement.
I want to show you a case study, just to make my point. Allow me to introduce you to Hugo Sganga.
An Argentine midfielder, coming into his prime. He’s not a world midfielder, but definitely not far from that standard and with the potential to get there. Despite not being a solid starter this season, he has earned his spurs over the past few seasons with several successful league campaigns under his belt.
As you can see, Sganga has been a pretty constant factor upto the last season, which was marred by injuries. Despite it being the Argentine league, his performances have caught the attention of scouts from foreign clubs. Naturally, with his value being as low as it is, they have flocked to the Temperley stadium en masse.
Financially, we won’t be able to compete with most of these clubs. Re-negotiating his contract is going to be an expensive affair, as Sganga wants to double his current wages. With his contract expiring in a year, it seems like this is the time to say goodbye to Sganga, since such high wages are unsustainable for an Argentine club. Unfortunately, selling Sganga would be a smart move. On the other hand, his current value is ludicrously low to these clubs, so we can charge them a whole lot more. There are several things you need to keep in mind when you intend to overcharge.
Just asking for more won’t work unless you know a player’s actual value
Sganga’s market value as determined by FM is kept low by the relatively low reputation of the league we are active in. In reality, similar players playing in the Serie A, La Liga, Premier League or Bundesliga are worth four to five times this value and if you try to sell one, you tend to pay even more for similar players, especially when they are not transfer listed. Whilst that means we can comfortably ask for more cash, it doesn’t mean we just blurt out random numbers, because even the spending power of clubs like PSG or Chelsea has its limits.
You have to do some research before you determine an actual asking price. I generally do this by creating a scouting filter based on the player I am selling and seeing how other players with similar skill-sets compare to my lad. Allow me to show you.
When we create a scouting filter based on Sganga, we can see the values for similar players. As I said before, asking for more is not a bad idea since players with similar qualities are worth a whole lot more. I’m going off Pérez’, Agnellini’s and García’s values here as a guide-line, since there are some parallels between these players. Similar age, similar position and not yet active for an absolute top club in a top league. Asking for around 12 million doesn’t seem to be unreasonable. This means that just doubling your asking price still constitutes a fairly good deal for interested clubs, especially since Sganga’s current wage is lot lower than that of his top league counterparts. When the first offer comes in, I intend to ask for roughly 12 million.
If they don’t want to play ball; fuck off
This bit is quite simple, clubs that refuse to negotiate are not clubs you do business with, unless the immediately agree to the sum you demanded in the first place. They generally try to strike a bargain and offer a poor deal for your player. Let’s see a prime example.
Whilst the overall value isn’t all bad, it’s exactly Sganga’s market value. Worse than that is that you don’t get the lump sum, but large parts of the sum are paid out in clauses. If Sganga breaks his leg and never gets to those 50 league appearances or if he is sold after one season, you can kiss 1.2 million goodbye. Whilst I am definitely not against such clauses, they ought to be the cherry on top, not part of the main sum you wish to receive. There is also the non-negotiable offer, which is just plain wrong.
Using installments and clauses let’s you get away with murder (sort of)
When clubs are making offers for your players, they generally start off with a cash-only offer. They also generally start off with low-ball offers, because despite actually having the cash, they still don’t like to over-spend if they don’t have to.
The first bid we get on Sganga is actually below his market value. When we do re-negotiate for the intended 12 million, the bid won’t be all cash straight away, as most clubs won’t have that kind of money lying around. Celta’s next offer looks like this.
A total of 7.25 million means they have considerably raised their offer, but they are still quite a bit off the amount I actually want for Sganga. The inclusion of the installments generally means they are not likely to pay much more straight away. When re-negotiating the deal, it would be smart to raise the additional fees and not the cash upfront. Our next offer would look a bit like this.
By including monthly installments, we make it easier for the buying club to get the deal done. If you’re running a long term save, offering such clauses is not really an issue, since you’ll still be around when these clauses kick in and pay off. Celta seem reluctant to pay the 12 million we want, but they do come up with a decent offer, we eventually accepted because basically no-one is going to meet our valuation.
If you have been paying attention, you did notice that Celta were not Sganga’s only suitors. AC Milan is also interested and using the same negotiating technique, I manage to coax a second offer out of them.
Eventually, we have come up between 1 and 2 million shy of our desired price, but we still manage to overcharge by a fair bit. All in all, it’s a fairly good deal and it shows how you can overcharge the top sides of the gaming world.