Getting Great Deals For Your Players

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.

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Sign-To-Sell Revisited; The Way Forward For Smaller Clubs

Modern football is changing. With money becoming more and more important, the club landscape has changed. That applies to FM just as well as real life by the way. There is now a top tier of untouchable clubs who, like big businesses, get constantly richer and keep football alive with a trickle down of capital (Man City, PSG, Chelsea, Bayern) and then there is a secondary tier of clubs who provide a safe shop window for investors.

It seems rather unlikely we will ever see another ‘Ajax ’95’, a team which (arguably pre-Bosman ruling) bypassed economic restrains to achieve romantic glory. However, the most organised and forward thinking boards can overachieve and rise up the tiers. Take real-life examples such as FC Basel, Ajax, Porto and Sevilla. They understand that, in capitalist football, all staff are up for sale and will only remain at the club until they have reached their peak. The best businessmen know who to sign cheap and even more importantly; when to cash in before hitting a glass ceiling.

In this blogpost, I want to focus on the business side of things. If you’re a smaller club trying to break the strangle-hold of the traditional top clubs, be it nationally or internationally, how could you sign the right players for the right price? Which strategies can you employ to scout and sign players, how can you get the most value for players you intend to sell, basically, how can you be a smart wheeler-dealer?

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Value For Money; Exploiting The MLS (FM15)

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.

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Collateral Damage; What To Do With Excess (All) Strikers?

Let’s just presume you have fallen under the spell of the siren song of strikerless tactics. Otherwise, why would you be here, on Strikerless.com? By its very name, a strikerless formation has no need for actual strikers. So, when you are hell-bent on playing a strikerless formation, you are going to have to find solutions for your excess bagage; the strikers you have inherited in the squad you have just taken control of. What do you do with excess (most if not all) strikers?

So what are the most effective and efficient ways to get rid of those banes of my Football Manager existence; strikers? If you’re the kind of guy that’s not interested in long, winded posts, here’s the TL;DR version:

  1. Re-train them;
  2. Sell them,;
  3. Loan them away.

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Value For Money; Where To Scout?

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.

Let’s look at the various scouting regions available in FM14 to see how they match up with the factors we have established.

UK & Ireland

scouting-uk

The scouting region UK & Ireland consists of the following nations; England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Looking at the criteria we have established, these are our conclusions.

Ability of the existing players available within a region

There is plenty of talent available in the region, especially in England. The English Premier League is full of talented players and even the lower levels have some talented stars for you to sign. The Scottish league harbours some talented players as well. The Welsh, Irish and Northern Irish league usually don’t produce players you can sign for first team duties immediately, unless you’re playing as a smaller side, outside of the top division.

Potential ability of the newgens available within a region

Looking at the Youth Ratings for this region, we can see that England is the go-to nation in terms of quality newgens. All the nations in the region are capable of producing talent, though only England and Scotland possess big clubs capable of regularly producing talent. Wales seems a bit of an exception, as most Welsh newgens are spawned by Swansea and Cardiff, clubs active in the English leagues.

Transfer-sums for the players within a region

Fluctuate wildy within the region. If you’re going for Chelsea players, you’re going to pay a lot more compared to going for players from Doneghal Utd for example. With these fluctuating prices comes possibility for everyone though, even clubs on a tight budget can shop in this region. Maybe not in England, where many players seem reluctant to move abroad, but the other countries are fair game. Irish and Northern Irish players are active in low-key leagues and are thus rather motivated to better themselves. Because of the low reputation of these leagues and their clubs, they are generally available for low fees.

In terms of newgen-hunting, England is a nation to stay clear off. The better players generally spawn for big clubs, which means you pay through the nose to sign them. With the home-grown rules in place, the prices for UK-based players are very inflated for young players, which makes signing these players an expensive endeavour. Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and to a lesser extent Scotland are interesting options. In Wales and Scotland, you are going to have to compete with the local powerhouses for newgens though.

Wages for the players within a region

Much like the transferfees, the wages tend to fluctuate wildy within the region. Premier League and Championship players are going to be expensive, anything below that is fair game and decently priced in terms of wages. In Scotland, it’s Celtic and Rangers who are capable of playing top wages, the other players are fairly cheap. Welsh, Irish and Northern Irish clubs are not able to offer very high wages, so the wages are relatively low.

When we look at the newgens, we again see that English newgens are very demanding in terms of wages. The Scots, Irish, Northern Irish and Welsh are relatively cheap, but will probably still command decent wages depending on their reputation. Their wage demands are generally speaking lower than their English counter-parts though.

Availability of players within a region

Signing players from this region is relatively easy. There are no rules in place that restrict their transfer-possibilities in relation to their age and most countries do not require work permits for English players, especially not within the EU. In terms of their availability, that’s a definite pro.

Commercial value of players within a region

Beyond high profile signings, there is no actual commercial value for players within this region. Don’t expect to see your merchandise income to sky-rocket because you sign someone from this region.

Eastern Europe

scouting-easteurope
The scouting region Eastern Europe consists of the following nations: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

Looking at the criteria we have established, these are our conclusions.

Ability of the existing players available within a region

It’s one of the larger scouting regions in the game and a bit of a mixed bag in terms of talent. On the one hand, there are some established interesting regions such as the Balcan states, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. On the other hand, some of these states are not interesting at all, such as the Baltic states, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, Armenia and Azerbajian. There’s even a middle group in there, that tends to have to odd interesting player, but does not regularly produce players you can actually use. Given that the scouting region is such a large one, it’s an interesting region for managers at every level.

A special mention goes out the reserve squads in the Ukranian league. The reserve teams of clubs like Dynamo Kyiv and Shakthar Donetsk often contain classy youths or out-of-favour established players you can either loan or sign. These are all instant-impact players, capable of giving an immediate boost to your squad.

Potential ability of the newgens available within a region

Looking at the Youth Ratings for this region, we can see that Russia is the go-to nation in terms of quality newgens. That’s not to say that the various other nations do not offer a chance of getting a decent newgen. The Balcan nations, especially Serbia, are renowned for producing top newgens. Special mentions in this regard go out to Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade, both clubs you ought to investigate when looking for talented newgens. The same goes for the Russian clubs, but for reasons I will look into in the next paragraph.

Transfer-sums for the players within a region

Fluctuate wildy within the region. The big money is in the Russian and Ukranian leagues, where clubs can even afford to sign European and South American internationals. Signing players from these clubs tends to cost you an arm and a leg. On the other hand, most of the other leagues are not high-profile or financially powerful, which means players can be purchased for relatively low prices.

In terms of newgen-hunting, Russia offers a unique opportunity to get value for money, as many newgens can be signed for as little as 4k if you snap them up a few days after they are generated by the game. These strange values for newgens also apply to players from the Moskovite clubs and Zenit St. Petersburg, which means you can get absolutely brilliant players for the same amount of money Gareth Bale makes in a few hours.

The other nations in the region seem more normal in terms of transfer-sums for newgens. This means you have to pay a few hundred thousand for every newgen you sign, which is far from excessive in terms of transfer sums. When you are too slow and the lads have signed actual contracts with their clubs, you will have to pay more inflated fees, but still a lot lower compared to the fees you pay for UK & Irish players.

Wages for the players within a region

Much like the transferfees, the wages tend to fluctuate wildy within the region. Russia and the Ukraine are the richer nations in the area, thus signing players from these countries is always going to be a costly affair, with most of them demanding pretty high wages. Most of the other nations are relatively cheap however. Low reputation leagues make for fairly cheap wages.

Availability of players within a region

About half of the players from Eastern Europe are subject to work permit requirements, with a few notable exceptions. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania are considered EU nations.

The players from the remaining nations do require work permits to move abroad. In terms of the interesting Russian newgens, this means your players require a work permit to sign for British clubs. A second hinderance in signing these talented Russians is the rule that U18 Russians are not allowed to sign for foreign clubs. The same applies to Ukranian newgens.

Commercial value of players within a region

Beyond high profile signings, there is no actual commercial value for players within this region. Don’t expect to see your merchandise income to sky-rocket because you sign someone from this region.

Central Europe

scouting-centraleurope

The scouting region Eastern Europe consists of the following nations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, San Marino, Spain and Switzerland.

Ability of the existing players available within a region

Another large scouting regions and this one contains the more high profile European leagues. To be fair, it’s a must in terms of scouting. Despite the presence of minnow leagues, which are prone to produce nothing of interest, I highly recommend you scout this region. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland are worthwhile and possess quality players for every level of club.

An interesting possibility in this region is the presence of reserve squads in the Spanish league. The reserve teams of clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid often contain classy youths or out-of-favour established players you can either loan or sign. These are all instant-impact players, capable of giving an immediate boost to your squad. Similar possibilities arise with the reserve teams in Portugal, the B-teams in France and the Amateur teams in Germany.

Another interesting option is the Italian league, many of the top sides in the Serie A are compulsively hoarding talented players worse than the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons hoards cats. With so many players in a single squad, there are always players who are not getting first team football and are thus motivated to force a loan or transfer move.

The smaller nations are not interesting. San Marino, Luxembourg, Andorra and Liechtenstein generally never produce anyone worthwhile signing. They are part of the region, but are generally a waste of time for your scouts to visit. Fortunately, these countries are all small so a scout generally spends a week or less in this specific country before moving along to a different country.

Potential ability of the newgens available within a region

Looking at the Youth Ratings for this region, this is an area that has some of the strongest newgen spawning grounds in the game. Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Holland are all must-go’s in terms of good newgen scouting grounds, whilst countries like Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria are prone to produce a few good players every season. This is definitely a must-scout area when looking for newgens.

Transfer-sums for the players within a region

Fluctuate wildy within the region. The big money is in the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga, whereas clubs like Monaco and PSG are inflating the prices in the Ligue 1. There are leagues where clubs can afford to splash the cash around, thus inflating the prices for players. Signing players from these leagues tends to be a costly affair, though they are undoubtedly talented and ready for the very highest level.

Players from the other leagues like Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria tend to be cheaper, though the odd talented player can make a high-value transfer. Most of the players in this league tend to be fairly cheap and as you go down to the lower divisions, prices become even more interesting.

In terms of newgen-hunting, Austria offers an opportunity similar to the Russian leagues I mentioned earlier to get value for money, as many newgens can be signed for as little as 20k if you snap them up a few days after they are generated by the game. This means you can sign players from the top Austrian clubs such as Austria Wien, Rapid Wien and Red Bull Salzburg, which means you can get absolutely brilliant players for the same amount of money Paris Hilton spends daily on new clothes and shoes.

The other nations in the region generally offer pretty steep prices depending on the parent club. The rule of thumb is basically the bigger the club you want to cradle-rob, the more inflated the transfer fee. Ergo, signing players from Barcelona or FC Bayern is a lot more expensive then signing players from Celta de Vigo or 1860 Munich. The trick is to find clubs that tend to produce good players but have a lower reputation.

Wages for the players within a region

Much like the transferfees, the wages tend to fluctuate wildy within the region. If you’re going for high profile La Liga, Serie A or Bundesliga players, you’re going to pay excessive wages. If you’re after talents from the Eredivisie or the Ligue 1, the wage-demands tend to be lower. Depending on what you are after, you can scout the leagues and competitions you want to.

Availability of players within a region

Every country in the region is part of the EU, so players can move around Europe unrestricted.

Commercial value of players within a region

Beyond high profile signings, there is no actual commercial value for players within this region. Don’t expect to see your merchandise income to sky-rocket because you sign someone from this region.

South Europe

scouting-southeurope

The scouting region Eastern Europe consists of the following nations: Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Turkey.

Ability of the existing players available within a region

I had initially placed Croatia in the Eastern Europe region and simply looking at the map, it seems to make no sense at all that Croatia is lumped in this particular scouting region, whilst its neighboring countries and main rivals are included in a different region. However, this is how it is and the incomprehensible addition of Croatia to the region makes Southern Europe a rather interesting region.

In fact, out of the few leagues in the region, only the Maltese league offers no value in terms of scouting. Croatia, Greece and Turkey all have a few clubs in the league with strong squads, able to compete in Europe, so with players good enough for almost any club. Cyprus has a less strong league, but the financial power of the league means they are often able to attract interesting players from more obscure countries, who get their first taste of European football on the island.

Potential ability of the newgens available within a region

Looking at the Youth Ratings for this region, we can discard Malta altogether as a source of valuable newgens. Quick quiz question, name one Maltese player who has really made a name for himself in Europe… That’s right, there are none and FM is pretty accurate in its depiction of reality. Cyprus has a few decent players every now and then, which makes this country worthwhile to research in combination with the cheap Africans.

Greece, Turkey and especially Croatia are all well worthy of your attention. In all three nations, it’s usually the big clubs that produce the most interesting players. In Greece, this means scouting clubs like Panathinaikos, PAOK and Olympiacos (and to a lesser extent AEK), in Turkey that means the three big Istanbul clubs Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahçe as well as Trabzonspor, in Croatia that means Dinamo, Hajduk and Rijeka. Especially Galatasaray and Dinamo Zagreb are a conveyor belt of talented newgens.

Transfer-sums for the players within a region

They tend to fluctuate, but not that much overal. The Turkish and Greek leagues have a higher reputation than the others in the region, so players there tend to command slightly higher transfer fees. It should be noted that the Istanbul clubs are competing with European subtop clubs in terms of transfer fees and wages, so signing players from these clubs is expensive.

Wages for the players within a region

They tend to fluctuate, but not that much overal. The Turkish and Greek leagues have a higher reputation than the others in the region, so players there tend to command slightly higher wages. It should be noted that the Istanbul clubs are competing with European subtop clubs in terms of transfer fees and wages, so signing players from these clubs is expensive.

Availability of players within a region

Croatia, Greece, Cyprus and Malta are part of the EU, so players from these countries are free to move around Europe without any restrictions. Turkey isn’t part of the EU, though Turkish players are not counted as foreigners in the German leagues.

Commercial value of players within a region

Beyond high profile signings, there is no actual commercial value for players within this region. Don’t expect to see your merchandise income to sky-rocket because you sign someone from this region.

Scandinavia
Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden

North America
Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, United States of America

Caribbean
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands

Central America
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

South America
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela

Oceania
Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, America Samoa, New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna, Tuvalu

South Asia
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Southeast Asia
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam

Middle East
Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Central Asia
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

East Asia
China, Chinese Taipei, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, Northern Mariana, South Korea

North Africa
Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia

Central Africa
Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo DR, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe

East Africa
Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Reunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe

Southern Africa
Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland

Western Africa
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo