January 2030

Welcome to the thirties!

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The deal for Carboni was tied up pretty quickly and I’m excited to have my man. He’ll compliment the first team squad nicely. I’ll look to develop his ability in that MR slot as I feel that his overall ability, style and traits will produce a really exciting wide player who will look to get into the ball – albeit timing it slightly differently to others’ – and score me goals. I’m also confident that, should be play well whilst on loan, I’ll be able to secure a deal to bring him here permanently.

The first of, ideally, two or three deals that I want to conclude this window.

Serie A: Fiorentina vs Atalanta.

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A reminder from the pre-match report that Fiorentina are a really strong side and, because of that, my line up was a bit more cautious. I gave Carboni a debut as I was told he was match fit – but, what I probably ignored, was the fact that he was not understanding of our shape and style. Some nice touches throughout the game but looked a little off it, despite having a great chance late in the first half.

Overall a result that I’m really proud of. One of those where our resolute and organised defending paid off – limiting the hosts to a tiny amount of overall threat despite keeping the ball for long periods of time. Things are definitely moving in the right direction!

Another little transfer coup completed for me, swapping one in for one out:

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I accepted a €10.5m for Renato Sanches that sees him move to Saudi Arabia, with a host of other overpaid players to see out his playing days. Whilst the Portuguese man didn’t do anything wrong, per se, he was never quite the right player for me. Too weak defensively and too aggressive position-wise to be the half back, but not a high enough quality dribbler to make the CM(a) slot his own whilst also not being creative enough or a good enough finisher to occupy my other slots. These things are strange observations by me as I’ve always wanted rounded players and I want to build my midfield (more on that shortly) around players who can play different roles if needed.

At 32, he’s getting no younger and, given the fact his wage in the Middle East is pretty extortionate, I felt that I should cash in now whilst his stock was still positive rather than risk losing him on a free when I would – inevitably – be loathed to meet his demands. Plus, I found a deal I couldn’t refuse and needed to free some budget up for…

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The above image shows his performances for Barcelona in the 2028/29 season, but, as he hadn’t appeared in over 1000 minutes this season, I didn’t screenshot that. A full view of his up to date profile can be found by clicking on the thumbnail.

A €14m deal sees Gavi swap Catalunya for northern Italy in what must be considered an absolute steal, considering that Barcelona are still contributing 50% of his wages for the next two years. Whilst career has stuttered of late and he found himself on the transfer list, the quality is clear to see with the Spanish international. In two years time, when Barca stop contributing, I may be forced to renegotiate his deal in order to comply with my own wage policy but I think he’ll either of turned his career back around or will then, at 27, be another one of those wasted talents.

He is incredibly well rounded but it is his traits that make him most interesting to me – a genuine orchestrater who will drop between the lines and pick passes, linking play together. The fact that he’s quick off the mark but his overall speed is nothing to write home about as well as the fact that he’s largely right footed and has a small stature means that I am earmarking him for the wide midfielder role, which would either replace Moleiro, should he continue to whinge about his wages, or move him inside as backup to Carvalho.

My ideal midfield five looks a little like this:

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With the added width of a marauding left back, I have created a nice range of players, all with very specific jobs that – I believe – can unlock defences and contribute goals themselves. In my opinion, my strongest version of this sits with Gavi – Carvalho – Ederson – Carboni with Bogarde in the 6 role but I obviously have two new faces there to see how they gel as well as a DM, Bogarde, attracting a lot of interest and really is a converted full back.

Big money on Gavi – although, with wage savings, I think it’ll work out that I break even after about a year – but, in my eyes, potentially a real upgrade in terms of quality within the squad. It does leave me, in terms of options now, with a dilemma as to whether I want to bring in more players now or wait until the summer. I’m certainly going to be short of a DM (Torreira) and LB (Maehle) as they are both out of contract in the summer.

My plan, as you’ve probably seen with my transfers so far, is to keep the dressing room’s common languages as Italian, Portuguese and Spanish – ideally targeting players from South and Latin America, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Whilst this won’t be the only areas I recruit from, I am spending a lot of time working at identifying players, in particular from South America, who have European dual-citizenships in order to allow me to meet registration rules. I think that, when you look at the deals I’ve made so far, you’ll agree that I’m still getting good value for money, plus, the board are happy.

  • Wisdom Amey – €6.5m.
  • Thiago Almada – Loan (potential transfer cost around €10m).
  • Valentin Carboni – Loan (potential transfer cost €0m).
  • Gavi – €14m.

I think, at this level, even if I do sign Almada, that an average cost of around €7.5m per player for someone able to play at a Serie A level isn’t bad going. Feels a million miles away from the days at Gencler, where I was signing players for pennies, but that is the reality of one of the biggest leagues in the world. Furthermore, I think this signing feels quite anomalous with my plans going forward, given how the game world is evolving. I started this game on the Beta and there was a known issue with player development that we were told was fixable via a save game compatible patch – however, I still don’t quite think that it’s completed fixed it within this save.

To start this tangent, I have looked at the top eight clubs – sorted by reputation – in the world and the ages of their first team squad:

Liverpool (28.14) | Real Madrid (28.39) | Man City (27.52) | PSG (29.23) |Arsenal (28.4) | Juventus (27.7) | Barcelona (29.65) | Bayern (28.28) | Chelsea (27.59)

I would also go as far as saying that the likes of PSG, Bayern, Juventus and the Spanish teams also have an advantage that they run ‘II’ teams, which contribute to the average age of the entire squad, bringing it down. This tells me that it is likely that players are staying in the game longer because the younger players are not developing well enough to overtake them. But, the contract mechanics for these developmental players is still correct and now the game world is being filled with players between the ages of 19 and 23 who are getting paid loads but not playing first team football and not developing:

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How on earth have Atletico reasoned to make that transfer?! Then you have to factor in that the majority of these performances are for B teams or out on loan at lower level clubs and then it becomes more ridiculous to consider spending €40m+ on an untested player at the top level.

So, what we’re going to end up with, in the short term – are teams full of aging players who are retaining their quality and first team football and, therefore, not retiring. There are – for reference – currently 122 players who are over the age of 32 and earning over €100k p/w in the game world, stretching up to the €450k p/w for Frenkie de Jong and Eder Militao. But Kyle Walker-Peters, a man who, at 32, has made just 237 career appearances before moving for over €45m to Liverpool to sit on their bench. Surely there is a youngster who could be better than him.

But, rather than moan about this, I need to adapt my style. I know that I can develop youngsters so, therefore, I need to sign them younger and keep them at my club before their wages become astronomical and those years between 18 and 22 aren’t wasted by them not getting first team football. I also need to be more aware of those aged between 21 and 24 who are still on low wages and then could develop – as SI tells us that this is perfectly possible to have those late bloomers. I also need to be aware that those 30+ players, right now, are still probably good enough to do a job and I shouldn’t just look to ship them out as soon as they hit the age threshold.

In years to come, once these older ‘real players’ have retired, the game world will shift and probably become lower quality because there will be a whole generation of peak players who have not lived up to expectations, but, over time, I assume that’ll even itself out.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Spezia

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From the pre-match report, I decided to name a slightly changed XI – allowing starts for Lanzo, Monea and Zenga. The Romanian came in for the injured Okoli whilst Marzio Zenga’s start came following the news that Sergio Camello would be exploring his options at the end of his contract next summer and, therefore, I’d need to be seriously thinking about a striker before then. Gavi was named among the subs given his lack of match fitness.

It was the young Italian who got us off to a great start converted a lovely through ball from Wisdom Amey, who has certainly settled and got over his early-season jitters at full back. Agudelo netted after a really poor clearing header from Pellegrini in what was Spezia’s only attempt in the first half. It stayed that was for much of the second half as we looked unlikely to conjure up any magic, even with the introduction of our new Spanish wizard but, in the eightieth minute, Zenga finished from 25 yards out with a low strike that somehow beat the keeper before his header, from a Carvalho corner, hit the post and was turned in by Bogarde to seal the win.

As for Gavi, I would say his debut was a success:

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Serie A: Atalanta vs Napoli.

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Pre-match, I was interested to see that new boss Villas Boas hadn’t changed much tactically, so, therefore, I stuck with the same line up shape but continued to put trust in my youngsters Lanzo and Zenga, whilst Ferrigno came in for the injured Fusari.

It was another one of those games where our execution was pretty much perfect. An early penalty eased any nerves that we had but, from there, we didn’t look back. We haven’t been as potent as I would like from set pieces but a Ferrigno goal, his first for the club, made me feel slightly better in there respect before Zenga raced through to score a lovely goal and seal the points. Once again, there is a clear defensive shape and it felt good that I could bring in a non-first choice player and for him to not be out of place – although, of course, the goal helped his overall rating. Napoli look like a team in a lot of distress and we put them to the sword. It’s not going to be an easy job for the Portuguese man to sort this mess out.

I’m really impressed with the performances of my two young forwards, Lanzo and Zenga, so far this season and will be looking to give them more minutes as the months pass by.

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Lanzo is direct and works really hard for the team. He’d be one of our leading assist makers if we were slightly better at converting the chances he makes but his two PoTM awards show that he’s able to come on and impact the game, with him being awarded more minutes from the start at present whilst Carboni settles in. I have really high hopes for him.

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Zenga impressed me in pre-season and his goalscoring record of a goal per one-hundred minutes of football is certainly repaying my faith in a man who has only previously been tested at a Ligue 2 level in France. His xG and goals tally, per 90, are relatively close so I could even go as far as saying that I think he could do better and that he’s not actually overperforming, yet, this season.

With the club ideology built around developing youngsters, I must say that I’m quite excited about what we have coming through – including a potential new back four in Pacifico (CWB at LB) – De Zerbi (BPD and DLC) – Valtuna (CD and DCR) – Di Martino (IWB at RB). What I am aware we are missing is any central midfielders, but my youth intake preview reckons that this will change.

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Coppa Italia Third Round: Sassuolo vs Atalanta.

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Almost the perfect cup performance here with plenty of squad rotation. The only downsides were an injury to Gavi and a reminder that, when you give Andrea Pinamonti the smallest margin, he’ll score. More good performances from Lazno and Zenga as we march on to the next round.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Sassuolo.

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Disappointing but – contextually – still a massive step forward from where we have been with lots of lessons learnt.

The fact that I sought out and brought on Zenga and Lanza and they both had considerably more impact than Almada and Camello tells the tale of where I think I’ll need to be going in the longer term with this squad. Overall, we were far better but lacked that cutting edge to get us back into the game and, when Speranza was brought down in the box, I had no qualms about picking the young Italian, who now takes his tally to eight in total.

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We are flying! Harder times will come: our squad depth isn’t quite what the other top sides are but we have points on the board, which is the separator between us, Juve, Inter and Fiorentina – the teams who I feel will be vying with us and Lecce for the European spots. February will be tough – away days in Rome and Milan will likely see our defence tested. The injury to Gavi following the sale of Sanches will also put us slightly lighter on the ground going forward, too.

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Forza La Dea!

 

Our numbers aren’t worrying me at all.

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Yes, we do lose the ball more than the other teams in the top six but we also win it back more (we’ve made nearly 100 more interceptions than the team in second place and we have the best defence in the league so this is not of concern at all). Whilst we complete less passes and, naturally, less in the final third – it’s in line with the other teams in terms of the percentage of the passes that we make there and it doesn’t lead to less shots or even a lower quality shot at the end of it If anything, we’re underperforming our xG totals and could have scored even more.

February 2030

Serie A: Brescia vs Atalanta.

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The pre-match report was a reminder that Brescia are the out-of-form team in the league at the moment although will be hard to break down, given their demand for the ball and passing lanes that recycle between the back four. I named a strong line up. However, I got this one wrong. Zenga, even as the CF(a), relies heavily on space and getting in behind but he was unable to do this – even after an early alteration that put us to Cautious mentality, in the hope that we could pull them out and find those spaces. You can see from our heat map that we often ended with a 3-7 shape as we, essentially, got a taste of our own medicine in terms of building that really resilient block.

Points dropped but we learn.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Genoa.

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The pre-match report told me that Genoa are a team in form, unbeaten in six and fresh off a cup win over Milan and a 3-0 demolition of Napoli. Our line up some unfit players but the game plan was made so much easier due to a red card in the second minute that saw forward Boye sacrificed for a replacement left back and change what Genoa wanted. Camello got on the end of a cross early on and, from there, we just stopped them doing anything dangerous. Not the most glamorous of attacking showings but we did enough.

Coppa Italia Quarter Final: Atalanta vs SPAL.

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Good progress from the squad players to see us through to a semi final against Torino.

However, post match, I learnt of a season ending injury for first choice keeper Carnesecchi, meaning that youngster Ferraroli would be keeping his place for longer.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Torino.

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My three hundredth game as manager was a good one!

Zenga scored twice, finishing from a Lanzo cut back, before Fusari nodded in from a Carvalho corner. Once again, we have kept them at arm’s length and stopped them from progressing much. Amey, in particular, was strong at right back as they built down their left with, at times, an excessive aggressive AM, who Bogarde marshalled well.

With us nearing the end of February, the early stages of planning are very much starting with me thinking about how I want to develop this team. At Sassuolo, this was a really weak area and I got to summer with no indicators around new targets and areas that needed to be developed. The only difference here is that my squad, on the whole, is much younger and, as such, will require much less work to put my spin on it a bit more.

Keep within the first team:

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In doing this, I was made aware of Carnesecchi’s contract, so triggered a one year extension on that but, aside from Speranza – a youth graduate with a complex past – we’re ok in terms of expiring deals. Leonardo is a Uruguayan and holds no Italian passport so, as such, takes up a non-EU slot at the club. I tried to sell him in January to free up a slot here but there was no interest and, should I then sell him in the summer, it’ll have no impact on the number of non-EU players I can register next season, unfortunately. He’s developing ok but isn’t quite the type of player I’m after as an IWB(s) on the right hand side. Elsewhere, everyone on this list is performing well, has just signed (Gavi), or is developing really well. I would like to give more opportunities to Ferrigno as both Lanzo and Zenga have done really well this season coming into the first team but the Fusari – Okoli partnership is strong.

This time next year, I may be asking questions about Sottil, who could find chances more limited if Gavi kicks on but I think that the rest of these players are here for the foreseeable, or, more likely, as long as I can keep them here and happy.

Potential to move into the first team:

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These are here because of the commitment I have to developing youngsters but, to be honest, none of the four are ready and three of them are on loan at Serie C clubs and haven’t been tested at higher levels, even if the staff believe that they are good enough to be. I do like Luca De Zerbi and he could fill the role as a central runner, but, currently, is not secure as a CM and that will take him longer to achieve, too. Scopece has a glaring weakness in his first touch, which is a shame as he appears to have good potential but – probably – can’t be repurposed elsewhere.

It’s a shame that we are unlikely to add to the seven academy players within my first team squad for next year.

Potential to be moved on:

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Some really difficult decisions to make here.

Firstly, Carboni’s is actually easy: he signed a pre-contract with Lazio as I was not prepared to offer over €100k p/w within weeks of him joining and, as such, not showing me the ability he might have. Next is Thiago Almada, the man on loan from Villa. His output isn’t bad but Villa aren’t even willing to talk regarding a deal for him and his €130k p/w wages will be a step above what I can, and want to, offer anyway. I probably haven’t given him the fairest of deals: he started on the right wing but then moved to be the more creative forward and has now found himself as an option for Carvalho off the bench too, which means his minutes and instructions have been sporadic – surely not beneficial to him. At left back, I’m still questioning both first team players. Maehle’s deal is up at the end of the season and his demands of over €80k p/w are wholly unreasonable for a 32-year old rotational player, however interesting he is as a wrong footed complete wing back. I’m also not even sold on Pellegrini and, should the right player be available, could probably shunt him down to a rotational player, knowing that him kicking up a fuss and, consequently, me selling him, wouldn’t be the end of the world. In the DM role, Torreira has just extended his deal in order to reduce his take home wage, which is fine as a backup option. However, he’s not quite the player I want, but, then again, nor is Bogarde. He’s certainly more a stay at home full back and doesn’t quite fit – physicality aside – in this role. He is also in his peak and attracting a lot of interest, so, whilst he’s certainly good – but has been usurped by the impressive Amey at right back – could bring in money that can be reinvested elsewhere. In the midfielder, Moleiro has made constant noises about wanting a new deal, upwards of €150k p/w. Sadly, for a rotational player, now sat behind Gavi or Carvalho in the two roles he can play, this is simply stupid. He’s a good player and I’ve been impressed with him but, should the concerns be made public again, I think I’ll be far less considerate towards him. Up top, I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve not allowed Costa more minutes so I may be tempted to find a loan deal for him, although that does depend on whether Camello – already seeking options at the end of his contract – stays or I cash in on him a year early.

Therefore, the shopping list, in order of importance, feels like:

  • Defensive midfielder (either to be backup for Bogarde and replace him in the long term or to replace Bogarde immediately)
  • Left Back (either to develop into a player who can overtake Pellegrini or a player to replace him immediately)
  • Right winger (to provide good competition for Lanzo)
  • Forward (to provide good competition for Lanzo if Camello moves on)

Serie A: Roma vs Atalanta.

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First vs third.

We’re getting really, really close to being able to compete with the best at this level and I think we’re just a few tweaks and maybe a few players away from being able to do so. I don’t really ever see myself as a manager who will ignore the threats of good teams and hope that my own team can overcome them – and, in this case, that does mean we tend to be quite defensive, especially away at the big teams. I shifted Pellegrini to a WB(s) and went to Cautious – in the hope that I can could draw a misplaced pass from Roma and launch a deadly counter. In the end, most of the game was played within the middle third, with a handful of low quality chances. Their goal was annoying – we cleared our lines from a corner initially but was slightly slow  at closing down Di Caro, on the edge of the area, who was then able to drive towards the six yard box and finish part Ferraroli, who’d done well until then.

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We’re probably about even now. Our run of form has been great but I wouldn’t consider us, in the long run, stronger than either Juve or Inter. Plus, looking at the much bigger picture in the save and my career – a shot in the Europa League, for me, would provide the perfect and, hopefully achievable, shot at European silverware in the short term. Napoli’s poor season continues but they are, surely, too good to be relegated under the stewardship of Andre Villas Boas. My old club Sassuolo seem to be fading a little, plagued by their lack of scoring, which was also an issue last time out whilst Udinese and Lecce are still showing that they are better than the likes of Lazio and Fiorentina – which, particularly for the former, a new promoted side, is incredible.

The impressive Zenga moves to top of the mins/goal standings whilst Carvalho leads the assists. I’m hoping that the two of them can continue to link up and he’ll get himself onto the top of the goalscoring charts, too.

Next month is busy! Winnable ties with the visit of Lecce and the re-arranged trip to Milan looking to be the most difficult.

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Forza La Dea!

March 2030

Serie A: Atalanta vs Parma.

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We started slowly but grew into the game and, with just ten minutes left, I felt that we were about to drop two points as we just couldn’t quite unlock their defence enough to create a high quality chance. For the most part, our play was attractive, and the 3-3-3-1 shape was in full force, with even that De Zerbi influence where Monea has his studs on the ball! I made changed the game on the seventy-minute mark, introducing Carboni – who, to be fair to him, is lacking match fitness because I’ve just stopped playing him now he’s moving on. He got himself on the end of an Almada cross, knocking home his first for the club and giving us the win that, on the overall state of play, we deserved.

This result again confirms just how strong we are defensively: nobody has a greater xG differential than us as we have conceded 12 from our18.89xGA this season (spare a thought for Spezia who have conceded 58 from their 40.42xGA). This gives us the best defence in Europe and I’m really glad that I’ve persisted with this style of creating a false back three to make us stronger in our initial transitional play.

I’ll leave this with a tweet from Alessia Lami, who, quite frankly, has bemused me:

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Coppa Italia Semi Final First Leg: Atalanta vs Torino.

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We have put ourselves in a very strong position to make the Coppa Italia final with a resounding first leg win with our cup side. Speranza and Lanzo combining down the right before the winger opened his body up and slotted it neatly into the far corner, continuing his fine form and really staking his claim to be a first team regular. Marzio doubled our lead, nodding in a cross from Maehle as too continues to put pressure of those ahead of him to make me start him. The win was sealed when Sottil tucked away a low effort, converting a cross from Carvalho in a move that his driving run had started.

My one question though must be around the outputs from (my) record signing, Gavi.

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As a watcher of the Premier League, I am well aware of this idea that ‘Pep’s wingers take a season to settle in’ and I do appreciate that there is some thoughts behind that, given that I’m actually asking Gavi to play in a position and a role that he’s not really used to. However, I do also have an issue with the rating system here which is driven on assists. In my eyes, he’s doing everything right her – linking play and progressing it either by dribbling or passing, completing a good number of his passes compared to many other players within the squad and the team average. However, he just hasn’t been lucky enough to create a chance that has been put away. I do have a reservation though, particularly after watching Sottil score his goal and I just don’t feel that Gavi is the kind of player to make those aggressive runs into the box and get on the end of his hard work. Maybe I will be proved wrong but maybe I do need to slightly tweak a couple of roles around him to make him work the best.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Lecce.

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A bit of a smash and grab, really, and not particularly like our normal style of football this season. But, overall, that is good – it means we can be flexible when needed.

Lecce carved us open on a couple of occasions and their big chances came in the second half but, by that point, we were already two goals to the good thanks to Lanza, assisted by Carvalho, and a Carvalho goal, as he moved to 18 contributions this season. I’m pleased that we overcame our spell under the cosh and roared back with a goal, showing that our counter attacking style, where we do absorb pressure well, is efficient. On another day, this could have been a nil-nil, or even a defeat, so I’m – naturally – really pleased to have come away with the three point against a strong Lecce side.

The victory also marks another clean sheet for keeper Ferraroli:

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The youngster has stepped in and performed really well, keeping seven clean sheets in his first nine games for the club. There’s still a lot of holes left to fill but, given the age and quality of Carnesecchi, I’m in now rush to speed up his development to fill a gap.

Whilst talking about a youngster coming through, I must admit that I completely missed Daniele Ragatzu from my plans. At the start of the season, I’d transfer listed him due to not thinking he’d cut it but he’s been in good form and has obviously developed really well on loan in Serie B. As a player, he fits the bill of being defensive a bit more stable than the right sided winger but also one who is comfortable on the ball and at picking the correct pass. It would be silly to not include him in pre season, at least, as an understudy for Gavi on the left hand side or even for Ederson as the CAR(s). He’s not quite physical enough for the DM(d) role, which would fill an immediate hole as I do want someone who can step in to a duel if needed, which is why converted defender Bogarde works well here. Whilst he’s out on loan, I can’t currently change his transfer status or his estimated value – so that’ll be something to do over the summer months.

Serie A: Hellas Verona vs Atalanta.

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Just about!

Again, quite a poor showing against a possession hungry side but we are doing that well known thing of winning when not playing particularly well. Sottil, who was quite brilliant all game, netted our only goal but I wanted to take time to consider Marzio Zenga, who didn’t have the best game.

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Whilst he’s been a phenomenon in his first season, there has been two games he’s really struggled in, and, coincidentally, both are teams who really have tried to keep the ball, knowing that, in its most basic form, we then cannot get it to him to score:

  • Verona – 33% possession
  • Brescia – 32% possession

Two things need to happen here: he needs to become more rounded in his game to learn how to play as a Complete Forward, making the most of any little bit he can get and I do need to consider whether this role is the most efficient in games like this. If he does go on to become my first choice striker, I need to feel assured that he is playing in the optimal way against every type of opposition.

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An average intake (full intake in thumbnail) is not really what I would have wanted upon arrival here, however, it must be considered that there are already a number of really good youngsters at the club. I’ve picked out a few players who I do like though.

You can see their full profile by clicking the thumbnail:

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All of these will get plenty of time to develop in the youth squads, working with the excellent coaching team to develop their skills.

I’ve been using the NewGan tool for a long time now and, whilst it does a great job and mass-replacing all of the faces, I’ve found them to be somewhat dull. I’ve finally found a pack that has a bigger focus on just the head – as it seems that most, at present, have shirts included too and I don’t like that, and have replaced some of these faces. I’ve then started working through some of my own newgens with very generic faces and have replaced the following:

ZengaLanzoRagatzuPacificoSperanzaCostaFerrignoFerraroliCisse and Fusari.

Some of them really clearly do look AI generated but others provide a pretty lifelike version – with the differences in facial and head hair the most striking. The tactic screen, for example, feels a bit more authentic as they don’t all have very similar features. and I think that they is barely any difference when looking at them on the little screenshot thumbnail above: I’d be hard pressed to say whether any of those are real people or not! I’ll continue to do this for individuals whilst still using NewGan for the masses as I do like faces in the game.

Serie A: Udinese vs Atalanta.

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I feel like we’ve lost our way a little going forward, even though we have actually only conceded once since the 27th January 2030. The two players with the most minutes are Carvalho (2579) and Ederson (2497) and it’s showing as they’re getting leggy earlier and earlier into games at the moment. I don’t feel that we have sufficient depth right now to change the game later on and that does worry me going forward. However, going to Udine is not an easy place to go – they have a good defence and are a decent side, despite being new to this division. What is good though is that we forced them to play a game that they are not comfortable with, as they too like to counter attack. They posed little threat and, as soon as we can snap out of this spell, should have enough to be better than these teams.

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April is a torrid month as we travel to Milan and Juventus, probably losing ground for the top four spot in those two games. However, we have points on the board and we’re moving, even if it’s at a slightly stuttering pace right now. Also to celebrate, our U20 team are doing well in their U20 Primavera league and I’ve just promoted some really promising youngsters from my U18 team after the youth intake.

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Forza La Dea!

April 2030

Serie A: Milan vs Atalanta.

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We just about held on in the first of our tough run of fixtures.

We limited Milan to a couple of decent chances and then saved Theo Hernandez’s penalty midway through the second half to keep the scoreline at nil nil. We have, once again, been penalised for our lack of possession when it comes to the average ratings of these players. The work that they have all put in to maintain the relatively high but compact line is immense, given the small squad that we have – with several players running on empty towards the end. Not really the result that either of us needed but, once again, it’s a marker of where we are, how far we’ve come and what we need to do next. Part of that is to have a forward who hasn’t scored in several months!

Serie A: Atalanta vs Bologna.

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We really have lost our shooting boots right now.

A particularly annoying defeat as we just looked tired and somewhat lethargic throughout. I made a slight tactical tweak, trying out Speranza in the HB(d) role as a potential alternative to Bogarde – but keeping with the idea of a converted defender that will help as a man marker if necessary. He did that bit fine but only competed 73% of his passes, with only eleven of his forty-six progressive the ball forwards in any way. There are fine margins within on what success looks like but I think I still need to be convinced.

Serie A: Sampdoria vs Atalanta.

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The return of a bit of form.

Zenga was back to his best, causing havoc for the defenders with his direct running as well as his really strong link with Francesco Lanzo on the right, who also netted to round off a good game for my breakout academy players this year. Ferraroli’s goal was breached twice, the first as we got really complacent after an incredibly strong start. What I’m looking to see is if we cave in to the pressure or are able to overcome spells under the cosh. Here, Samp made that pressure pay for them and scored from a well constructed move. It is – in my opinion – important that I look at this defensive positioning, watching us being pulled out and engaging in duels repeatedly and ensuring that the gaps aren’t being created because of this.

Five goals is a lovely return to form though.

Serie A: Juventus vs Atalanta.

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Absolutely got away with this one. Juventus’ shooting was poor and they could and should have had a hatful against us but I was happy to be facing an out of sorts Endrick/Vlahovic/Calvert Lewin trio. Gavi recorded his first assist for the club, too, setting up Sottil early on as our game plan of ‘get ahead’ early on worked out for us.

Coppa Italia Semi Final Second Leg: Torino vs Atalanta.

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Coppa Italia finalists!

We did enough. Nothing spectacular but, for the most, a weekday off as I tried to rotate the squad as much as possible.Serie A: Atalanta vs Lazio.

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A draw to end the month. The positive – a goal for Lanzo as he moves to third on my goalscoring charts this season. The negative – a 20-year old learning Serie A on the job is my third highest goalscorer this season and another 20-year is my top scorer. We’ve really ran out of steam as we approach the final few games on the season. Lazio are a good team but I’ve shown, previously, that this shape can work particularly well against their 4-4-2. That being said, I’ve loosened my grip on the tactical side of the write-ups, as you’ve read this month and, to be fair, a little bit of the actual doing the tactical tweaks.

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Just need these four games to be done now – we have nothing to play for. Inter will likely beat us and that leaves us too far away from Juve for the fourth CL spot but, fortunately, too far ahead of Lecce and Udinese for the Europa League/Europa Conference League spots. Fifth will get us automatically into the Europa League group stages and €10m, which will satisfy the board and my recruitment team when I give them something to spend.

I would also really like to end with a strong showing in the Coppa Italia final and two league wins.  I’ve put an awful lot into this season and can’t wait to see how far we can go! Just need to get to June though, first…

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Forza La Dea!

We’ve just accumulated too many minutes across the squad. Below is the percentage of available minutes my first team have played:

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Carvalho and Ederson are the two midfielders and the former has ran just under 470km this season from that role, which is insane. I can accept Okoli, as a centre back, being high on that list but really it’s just highlighted the lack of that I’ve got right now. At the right hand side of the list, you’ve got the likes of Costa, Monea, Speranza, Ferraroli and Ferrigno – all academy players or youngsters just moving into the team this season and, therefore, not adept to the demands of Serie A. It’s unreasonable to have expected them to have come in and played a big part this season but, hopefully, next season they can contribute more.

It’d be unrealistic to expect two senior professionals for each position; in this squad I essentially only have that at left back where I’ve shared the minutes between Maehle and Pellegrini but the key for this summer’s rebuild will be finding that perfect, middle ground.

May 2030

Serie A: Atalanta vs Inter.

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 I do like playing against Inter’s 5-3-2 shape and I must say that I think we possibly edged this one as a huge amount of Inter’s possession was within their defensive five, moving the ball backwards and forwards between them. The game is telling for the likes of Zenga: a man who thrives on space but was just restricted in this one, showing that he does need to learn and we need to adapt if we are going to build around him as a lone striker. That being said, I don’t think many strikers would have a field day given that Inter’s defence is really good: 32 goals (although six from Roma) with two of those coming from corners and two from direct free kicks tells a tale of a strong defence that even the best of striker would struggle against. Again, it must be said that Zenga’s work rate off the ball was fantastic and his rating is just there for the 0.41xG he squandered.

A good point for us.

Serie A: Atalanta vs Fiorentina.

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Another one that could be considered a bit of a smash and grab, given the overall quality of our chances compared to theirs.

curling strike from Gavi was the pick of the goals and it was lovely to see Luciano Costa, now up to sixty-two minutes this season (my fault for some horrendous squad management of my forward line), netting his first goal for the club after replacing Zenga late on. We had a lot more possession than we normally do against the bigger teams and that is demonstrated in our passing direction stats: with 222 sideways passes compared to 158 forward, something that shows we did find Fiore’s block a little harder to breakdown. However, the amount of time we had on the ball was largely due to the away side’s profligacy with keeping it, as they squandered possession trying to play over and through us as they too appeared to tire out.

The man of the match and a man very much in form right now was Riccardo Sottil:

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He’s turned into a really important player and is one of six men (Zenga: 14G 1A, Carvalho: 8G 13A, Lanzo: 7G 4A, Ederson: 3G 8A and Almada: 3G 7A) at the club with ten or more goal contributions this season – playing in both of my wide midfield roles equally well. He’s direct and gets forward to join the attack, making him quite excellent in the supporting role on the left (and noticeably different to how Gavi plays it) but is also a more rounded winger on the right (and right footed) than Lanzo.

Long may his form continue.

Coppa Italia Final: Juventus vs Atalanta.

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Our lineup is pretty much the strongest side I can get out right now. I trusted Sottil after his great showing against his old club. Opposition instructions have been set to pull their wing backs inside and push their inside forwards outside whilst cutting off the most common passing lanes, that normally originate from Todibo.

We started well actually and looked defensively sound. However, their opener came from a bit of build up that I don’t feel is particularly realistic. I don’t think that Vlahovic would be making that run, offside, at this point because Endrick has the space to play it through and it’d end up being a wasted move. There are two tiny little details I don’t like here: Amey lets Endrick back onto his left foot too easily, despite being asked to keep him outside and Pellegrini, at no point, has an understand where Kulusevski is. When the ball comes in, Dejan is able to leap, relatively unchallenged, and nod Juve ahead. Our equaliser is classic Atalanta as we break through the middle and Carvalho plays Zenga through, who finishes really well. Again, just tiny details in their second: Gavi was instructed to tight mark Holm, the right wing back, in order to give us a better defensive shape – but he just hasn’t. Part of that is likely to do with the fact he’s pretty terrible at marking but, at least, his body shape should be there, between Holm and the goal, to show him inside as I’ve instructed. Then, once again, Pellegrini is caught with Kulusevski on his blind side and the ball that comes through – however good it may be – immediately puts Luca is a bad place as he can’t see that run. His Positioning, Marking and Decisions are all solid but, like I’ve said many times before, he was exhausted at this point and, worryingly, used to playing a less direct game – still!

We’re a really good side and play really good football in all areas of the pitch but, in this case, Juve were two or three decisions better than us. It’s the finest of margins but we’ve come out of the wrong side of it. However, we should absolutely hold our heads high and learn from this.

Serie A: Cagliari vs Atalanta.

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A heavily rotated line up took on Cagliari knowing that there was little to play for: we could finish no lower than sixth but unlikely that we would be able to topple Inter to finish fourth.

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A game of very little quality, to be honest. Extra added time as Almada went down injured in injury time, leading to news of a 5 month injury layoff and the termination of his loan, but, in the added time in added time – literally the last kick of the game – Bogarde’s raking ball found Carvalho, who finished calmly to give us the three points.

Round 37 also sealed Sampdoria’s relegation and, as such, meant that I could begin my approach for a player who has been on my radar all season.

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The Samp midfielder, with full profile accessible in the thumbnail, is a full international after making Italy’s preliminary World Cup squad and could be a cost-effective player, considering I still cannot afford Nicholas Amoroso’s €42m release clause: although that is roughly half of what I had been quoted earlier in the season. His archetype – passer and tackler and very physical is pretty much perfect for what I want from this role, although I will lose some headers in there now that I maybe would have won previously. He is also right footed, so his body shape will allow easier progression to the left hand side of the pitch, where we build up in numbers. In comparison with Bogarde and Torreira, he’s clearly not the finished article but, at just 21 years old, really fits my ethos and has a very good starting profile.

His release clause of €9.5m will have to be paid upfront, which does concern me as it’ll deplete our financial resources quite considerably, but, when you consider that he is pretty much 50% of the key refinements over the summer, I think it’s one worth pursuing.

It also seems like an apt time to share the other of those key refinements:

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Jonny (profilescout report and analyst report) looks set to join from Liverpool, in Uruguay for a fee of around €1.5m.

The Uruguayan side, predicted to be one of the best at this level, have performed poorly all season and the full back wants to move on. I must say that I feel he could be a ready made replacement for Maehle, although I’ll take it slowly introducing a 21-year old with no experience in Europe. I was drawn to not only his solid defensive attributes but also his dribbles, and, looking at his analyst report, his creative ability.

Serie A: Spezia vs Atalanta.

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Spezia put up a pretty good fight in their final Serie A game for at least a year but we had enough quality to see them off as Lanzo, twice, slid the ball through for Moleiro to finish. A good, but much needed, end to the season!

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I am absolutely delighted with that finish as we improve from 10th placed last year to comfortably but a gap between us and the chasing European pack. Roma stutter and hand the Scudetto to the red side of Milan, whilst Juventus pip Inter into third place, although the pressure on Antonio Conte must be mounting as the Turin giants were never really in the title race. Lecce and Fiore get the last two European slot as Viola leapfrog Lazio and Udinese, who have had a sensational return to the top flight, but did lose nearly a third of their total league games in the last five. Napoli recover from a torrid start to the season but fall a little short in their European challenge, but they’ll be no doubts that they are back next season whilst my old side, Sassuolo, end in fourteenth, falling back from last year. Torino, Sampdoria and sorry Spezia go down, with the latter two having particularly poor defensive records.

Tammy Abraham wins the Golden Shoe but Vlahovic’s injury in January stopped him from challenging that as he maintained the best xG/90 record.

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Our game plan has been built around a strong defence – the strongest in the league and across the top divisions in Europe – but also a pretty clinical attack, as our fifty-four goals is nearly one and a half a game. We conceded fourteen less goals than our xGA suggests we should, which shows the remarkable work that my coaching team have done on the training pitch and how the players have maintained form and focus across the long season.

Juve aside, I think we’re probably just a bit short in attack as everyone above us has overperformed their xG at a level ahead of ours. A little bit more luck in from of the goal and we could well be putting some more pressure on the top four.

In terms of individuals – it’s been hard but I’ve picked the five that have impressed me the most.

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All thumbnails – above – are clickable to see a full profile.

5. Marco Carnesecchi

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18 clean sheets in 30 appearances is a fantastic return for any keeper, as well as going the whole season with a 91% save ratio. I really like how my team instructions have impacted his style: he’ll drop the ball, slow the pace down and pick out the HB(d), who is often already being pressed at this point as we look to play through teams’ high press. When he goes long, he often instructs the players to take up positions on the right then plays the ball out to the left where we have a player in space. He’s also an immense character to have in the squad and I’m always able to motivate him during team talks. He’s got another two years left on this deal and I’ll look to keep him as long as possible.

4. Franco Lanzo

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One of two lads who have had a real breakout season. Lanzo has come in to play on the right hand side and has recorded thirteen goal contributions. His directness through running and progressing the ball is great and, given the fact that he’s left footed, means that he’ll run, at pace, and cut in front of defenders, making him insanely tough to mark. His appearance has also saved me a considerable chunk of money as he’s probably stopped the permanent deal for Thiago Almada happening. It’s always great to see players develop through the academy and this one is no different.

3. Wisdom Amey

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A €6.5m signing from a relegated side felt like a low risk deal but Wisdom has grown into a full Italian international, who’ll be going to the World Cup over the summer. Originally, an out-and-out defender, he’s developed his game, despite a slow start, to demonstrate a really clever defensive player. Often making great decisions in terms of his position and choice of engagement with an opponent, he’s tied down the right back slot for us. Sometimes – unfairly – penalised for our lack of possession, I feel that the youngster has been the best signing I’ve made so far at the club.

2. Marzio Zenga

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The second breakout player who will, hopefully, go on to cement himself as a regular starter next year. Sixteen goal contributions, with an xG overperformance of just under 4.00 is a great return as he’s elite under pressure, finishing over one in five of his shots. I’d love him to develop into a bit more of a creative striker, who can lay on goals as well as score them, but I will not complain if a man, with no prior Serie A experience, can do this season in, season out.

1. Fabio Carvalho

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A sublime season from the Portuguese lad, who also won his first cap for the country but is devastated – rightly – to not have made the cut for the World Cup squad. Twenty three goal contributions with three direct free kicks – a league high – as well as a progressive nature show how important he is to our style. Often found picking the ball up in half spaces and vertical gaps, he drives forward and lays it off for others. Despite having a low pass completion percentage, so many of his completed passes are key and he’s so important to us. You can see, though, that his minutes per game is below what I’d expect for a key player but that is on me – we lacked the squad depth and was unlucky with some injuries that meant he had to start a lot more games than I’d really want him to, but then had to be withdrawn.

I have loved my time here and am really excited about what the summer can bring. We’ve already made the two necessary replacements so anything I can do is now about strengthening in other areas and remaining financially sound. I will also endeavour to take in some of Spain ’30, hoping my Italians can fire their national team to a title after their third place in USA four years ago.

Forza La Dea!

June 2030

I like June. It’s the month built around the screen, below. I tend to just let the save progress away and take a bit of a mental break myself. I tend to play FM whilst doing other things as it’s on my laptop which is easily accessible most of the time. Months like this are great as I can just flick through and not have to worry about that deep involvement that will come again in July!

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I’m really happy with the midfield here – I have players who can play across multiple roles.

  • Gavi – WM(s) at ML and CAR(s) at MCR
  • Ragatzu – WM(s) at ML and CAR(s) at MCR
  • Carvalho – CM(a) at MCL and IW(a) at MR
  • Moleiro – WM(s) at ML and CM(a) at MCL
  • Ederson – CAR(s) and MCR, CM(a) at MCL and WM(s) at ML
  • Sottil – IW(a) at MR and WM(s) at ML

With the two key areas of left back and DM already recruited at an outlay of €11m, I can use this time to look at players I’d like to add or players who I could recruit should any of the first team players leave. We aren’t hugely well off; the board has given me a €35m budget for next year but that will be pretty much all that is in the bank as the new sponsorship deals and TV money comes in and, whilst we do have the income of European football, I will need to look at being clever with my dealings.

Right Back:

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Profile | Overall Report |

Bruno is entering the last year of his contract at Inter and has been criminally underused. A loan deal could work for me in the summer as a backup for Amey and a more progressive wing back than Speranza. Whether or not this will be forthcoming though will be a different matter although I have promise given how his stock has fallen across the last year, when I remember being quoted north o €40m for him when I was at Sassuolo. As Inter play with very aggressive Wing Backs, it’ll be interesting to see whether/if he can slot in to my style and I think that a loan would be perfect for that.

Central Midfield:

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Profile | Scout Report | Analyst Report |

Another potential star from Uruguay (see this Tifo video on the Uruguayan talent factories for further understanding) and a player that I’ve profiled before – albeit now with a new, AI face, Daniel Ferreira could be the exact person I need as I look to phase Lucas Torreira out over the next season or if Melayro Bogarde decides to move on. He’s a strong all rounder and, whilst lacking a bit of the height as I’d already identified with Pilenga, could be really good progressing the ball from the CAR(s) role. His €6m release clause – whilst, again, all up front – wouldn’t be a huge dent in my bank balance.

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Melayro has gone! As soon as the Premier League clubs declared any kind of interest, his toys had been thrown out but I have no idea why he’d want to join 15th placed Bournemouth under the tutelage of Steven Gerrard. However, I can see that it is the handsome pay packet that has helped this somewhat. I’m obviously disappointed to be losing him and that means a shuffle around in terms of what I’ve got left but I think it opens the door for the Ferreira deal to take place and for Torreira to move back to the backup DM, behind Pilenga.

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I watched as Wisdom Amey assisted Riccardo Sottil in an otherwise unremarkable performance.

(Early) July 2030

As the transfer windows opens, I’m given a timely reminder of the registration rules in regards to non-EU acquisitions for the coming season.

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Fortunately, or – possibly unfortunately, depending on how pre-season plays out – I’ve already secured that non-EU spot with the incoming signings, detailed below and now must focus any further business I conclude on those who hold an EU passport. Leonardo Speranza, my Uruguayan academy graduate, will complete enough days of residence to gain citizenship in early August, but I am unaware of how that changes things. It states that a change in citizenship will allow me to register a new player but, by the time his paperwork has come through, it may be January before I am able to do this.

As the season ticks over, I can welcome five new signings to the club:

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A total outlay of just €250k and the total cost of their wages falling inside of the basic rate of €64k p/w that Bogarde was on means that this is basically net zero and we still have that €35m transfer budget and nearly €45m in the bank, although the projections look like we will stand to lose around €20-€25m this season alone before transfer income and un-contracted revenue streams, such as Europa League money. None of these signings are what I’d consider marquee players but the whole ideology of a quiet revolution is well underway. In addition to the Melayro Bogarde sale, I lost the two loanees: Thiago Almada and Valentin Carboni, reducing our weekly wage by around €125k p/w, putting the club at its lowest wage bill for some time: a little under €1.2m per week across the sixty-four players.

 

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Profiles can be accessed by clicking on the thumbnail.

Three players will be coming into the first team and they are all of the culture and ethos that I am trying to instill here: young, with a common language of either Italian, Spanish or Portuguese and will personalities that should allow them to thrive and develop well. Now I can see all of the attributes, I am really happy with what I’ve got. Pilenga will slot in as first choice in the DM role, replacing Bogarde and offers a good hybrid of physicality and on-the-ball ability. The fact that he dictates the tempo means that, when he picks the ball up from a goal kick, he will decide how and where the transition starts, backed up by his good Decision making ability. I’d have liked a little more tenacity, especially when he does have to engage in a tackle and I know that his height and aerial ability are weaknesses, but I think he’s going to be a really smart addition. Jonny appears to have been a winger in his days in Uruguay, and that is fine. His Tackling is his standout weakness but, at 21, he can surely develop that to a reasonable point whilst utilising his speed, Crossing and technical ability. I will watch him carefully and hope that he can become more consistent as he grows up but he’s got the makings of a very good wing back. Ferreira is really well rounded and I particularly like his ability when collecting the ball. Whilst he needs to work on his Decision making a little, I do think that – given his lack of physical stature – he’ll be excellent in moving into the spaces between defence and midfield to create chances and, due to his Bravery, will get stuck in if needed.

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Profiles can be accessed by clicking on the thumbnail.

A decision I made upon arrival was to leave the approach for young players to the HoYD, Franco Palmieri, and he’s delivered me two decent prospects in Bisio and Adesina. The former comes in from his native Argentina and will play in the youth sides whilst we stumped a small about to bring the Nigerian-born Adesina to us. I think he’ll become, potentially, a decent Inverted Wing Back, so that’s where I’ll focus my time with him.

Next season is going to be a really important year for our youth players. I am able to put out nearly a whole team (minus GK and probably ML) of players currently within the youth sides, who I feel could go on to play at the top level of Italian football for us.

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Di Martino is developing really nicely, although is working hard on his technical skills in order to convert from a centre back into an Inverted Wing Back, whilst the two centre halves are strong prospects and one of the two De Zerbis (no relation and no relation to Roberto, now Olympiakos manager either), is developing his ball playing skills as I look to continue with a left footer to lead into a LB. Pacifico, like Maehle before him, is a wrong-footed wing back but will potentially be a really good asset if he continues to develop his Dribbling and overall speed. Alberto, the gem of the intake this year, is good enough to play at an U20 level already and I have high hopes for what he can become. Luca De Zerbi is converting to a runner role in the centre of the midfield whilst Fontana, detailed more below, is now considered to be good enough for Serie A at just 19.

Add these lot to the whole host of young players within the first team and I think we have an incredibly bright future. One thing that I’m really not impressed with, in real life, is the idea that all academy players are just free profit in the aid of FFP compliance. For me, if we haven’t got our house in order, these players form the basis of our squads, rather than be shipped off to afford the wages of an expensive import with a view on a short term fix. Whilst I will happily move on players if I don’t feel that they’ve reached the appropriate level or just aren’t doing what I’ve asked of them – the ideology that I want to build into this team is that we don’t give up on youngsters and do everything to ensure that they get the best footballing education.

There are five players that this is particularly prevalent too this season:

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Profiles can be accessed by clicking on the thumbnail.

Fontana is in talks with Udinese, a Serie A side, to join on loan. Their other striker options are ok, so I’m hoping that Daniele De Rossi isn’t going to mess us about and not play him! I do think that he’s potentially good enough for this league and would normally be quite wary, but, given how Udinese performed last year, their overachievement may play into his hands in terms of their rotation if players aren’t scoring. Scopece looks set to rejoin Avellino, now in Serie B, but will need to work on his overall ball control to develop further but, under Moreno Longo will, at least, get given the ability to play as an attacking wing back and will continue to develop under his tutelage. The other three all appear to be off to Serie B. We have a link with Modena (albeit a strange one where they were the senior affiliate until I got the board to re-negotiate) and have a top manager – and youth developer – in Marco GiampaoloModena’s high quality facilities also mean that building a team around a core of my own players will be beneficial to both their growth and their friendships. Out of the three, I do have eyes of Luca De Zerbi: he wasn’t amazing at AlbinoLeffe at the end of last year but something stands out about him that I want to explore further. Cisse is a bit of a strange one – not really good enough on the ball at the moment to play as an Inverted Wing Back or even to be repurposed as a CAR(s), but then not good enough in the air to be a CB(d). His development, like Albanian Memaj’s will really decide on whether he stays or goes in the summer, despite the potential my staff feel he has.

I think that it is really important that as many of these players on loan make it – having a successful spell in either Serie A or Serie B and then returning to the first team squad. Next summer, we lose three players, at minimum:

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Profiles can be accessed by clicking on the thumbnail.

The two Spaniards are currently unhappy and may be moved on earlier but, at this point, the money they bring is unlikely to be able to fully fund replacements and I’m in the process of changing the guard, as it were – Gavi/Ragatzu replacing Moleiro and Zenga/Costa replacing Camello so don’t really want to throw money at it anyway. Torreira’s age and decreasing physical ability means that he’s likely to be unsuited to playing in Serie A in twelve months. Therefore, I’d love it if – for example – De Zerbi was able to come in and take over from Moleiro and Fontana for Camello. Both of these moves would mean that we don’t lose any money on the recruitment to replace them. It’s a high risk process as they’ll not be experienced at this level but one that aligns with my own desires around academy progress.

Overall, the following players have a contract that expires at the end of this season:

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With the younger players in the squad, I am happy to keep them at the club for longer if they are progressing. I use the ability/potential makers very loosely for references and, usually, to demonstrate points in these screenshots, but I do know a player with 3 stars, as it were, is at least good enough for Serie A – and that is my end game. Therefore, as long as the players are developing, I am happy to extend deals and look for loans for them. Below are the players who are fighting for their lives at the club:

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Daniele’s natural role is one that I really crave in my first team and he’s actually making pretty decent progress in his additional focus and overall. Whilst his progress over the last three months hasn’t been great, he has improved well over the last twelve and, if he continues, will earn an extension. With good Technique, it is likely that his additional focus will now shift to the Defensive Positioning area of his game as well as his Attacking Movement, as I look to solidify him when we are in a defensive transition and then also with his overall intelligence.

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An increase in his Off the Ball ability and some in Anticipation but everything else is rather static. At 19, he should be nearly ready for first team action but, given the interest in him, I am willing to allow potentially his last season under my contract to be spent on loan. When he makes that judgement, there’ll be both performance and training related targets set in his notes for him to hit: I want to see an increase in his Dribbling and Decisions as well as a set amount of assists, decided by the level and ability of club he chooses. Once he returns to pre-season, I shall be having a stern word about his development and warning him and, when he agrees the loan contract, will tell him that he must impress whilst away from the club. He registered 22 goal contributions in the U20 side last year at an AR of 7.22, so has the quality but it’s just up to him to develop now.

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Recorded twelve assists from left back last season but has suffered two bouts of injuries: sprained knee ligaments and a twisted ankle, which have kept him out for nearly three months of the season. Again, I think there is a player to be made here and my staff think he could be good enough to play in Serie A, so I’m going to try and develop as much technical ability back as I can using the CWB(a) schedule, in the attacking unit, with a focus on Ball Control – trying to utilise his ability higher up the pitch. With my best prospect also being a left back, there is not a lot of time for him to sort himself out but is lucky that Scopece is going out on loan. Unlike Corbetta, I want to keep him at the club and ensure that our good facilities and coaches get him back on the straight and narrow and then go from there.

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I actually signed this lad last summer from Sudtirol for €16k but a torn hamstring set him back for nearly three months. I’ve also turned him into a left sided midfielder, which will have taken up much of his time but it is good to see that he’s also improved over the past twelve months. He’s currently unhappy with the high amount of additional work he has to do but, as he’s making progress, I’ll look to remove this and see if he still kicks on. There is, currently, no loan interest so it’s likely he’ll stay here under my leadership.

The course of the next year is also important for the following players, who, by next summer, will be entering the final twelve months of their deals.

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I should have no issues re-signing the youngsters should I want to keep them. Their wage demands and playing time should not be a concern – and, if they are – that’ll demonstrate that they’ve made significant growth within their ability. Right now, there is a new deal on the table to extend Ederson’s contract, taking him up to a base wage of €95k p/w with clauses that mean I commit around €110k p/w to his salary, with a huge Loyalty Bonus of around €6m. This, to me, is extortion but I need to keep him around. The only other player I am adamant I need to keep is Carnesecchi, and, shortly, I think it’d be wise to extend his contract, whatever the cost.

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I feel as if I’ve got a great handle on all the players at the club now and what they need to achieve to get better. I’ve always envisaged this role as Head of Player Development and Coaching or something similar and I know that if I can make every player 1% better in every area, every season, then I’ll have made a difference and will bring the board successes on and off the pitch in the longer term.

The latter part of July will be all about setting the team stuff – how are we training based on what I’ve learnt last season and how are the friendlies playing out.

Forza La Dea!

 

 

 

Author

  • Daniel Gear

    Dan Gear is a vibrant member of the Football Manager (FM) community, renowned for his engaging content and insightful tutorials. He illuminates complex FM concepts on "View From The Touchline" and shares engaging narratives through his unique European Journeyman save reveals. Dan's collaborative spirit shines in partnerships with fellow creators like FM Stag, unraveling new FM features. He's a co-host of the engaging "Grass N Gear" podcast, making the FM experience more enjoyable for many. With a blend of humor, expertise, and a knack for community engagement, Dan Gear's contributions significantly enrich the Football Manager community, making him a cherished figure among enthusiasts.

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