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I hadn’t planned much in the way of further departures given our ever-increasing bank balance and financial prudence and it was only Stumberger who added to the list of senior departures, moving, like the two before him, for pure profit after arriving for free last summer. That, for me, solidifies that – whilst last summer feels very non-permanent – it was an important and successful window as the financial windfall has secured our future in terms of potential for our own spending or on wage increases.

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It’s mad that I’m able to write such an important update that comes two (in-game) weeks after the last one but I’ve absolutely loved this process and feel that I’ve set the standard for my own recruitment methods in  FM24 and beyond.

All of my recruitment work is now done through scouting focuses – no more manual scouting unless I’ve chosen to watch a particularly player in a match and then get interested in another! That, to me, feels very realistic as my time is spent on the training pitch and in the dugout. I set my scouts out with a pretty wide set of instructions, looking for certain positions and certain types of players (bargains, youth, experience, contract expiry) and in certain areas (Germans and, currently, Swedes, are top of my list for future) before then streamlining them through a set of shortlists like those that I showed in my last update. For me, this is when my work starts. The initial work is built around statistical analysis meaning it’s rare that I’ll be signing unused players or those on the periphery of their squads unless I am secure in their quality through previous data collections. I then rank these in terms of my preference and begin to work through this list, ensuring that my priorities are met. For this window, I did not utilise the DoF – who can automate this process because I wanted to be coy about wage structures, ensuring that I paid players less this year with contract boosts upon 30 games (around our potential promotion or, if not, a time when I’ll have thoroughly judged why we haven’t gone up and how they’re playing). For example, a contract may look like:

  • €20k p/w base wage (negotiated down from €26k)
  • A 20% top division wage increase, taking their wage to €24k p/w
  • A wage increase upon 30 games taking their base wage to €25k p/w, knowing that this will likely come after promotion and I can achieve that ‘new contract boost’ at a time when they may be asking for parity in terms of other Bundesliga players.
  • An assist or goal bonus that work outs at between one or two months wages (€50k to €100k in this example) knowing that, should they score or assist ten or more, I’ll probably be doing pretty well!

As I said, I set my stall out with at least five players in each area and the below four are the deals that I made. What is the best – and most realistic – for me is that some of these were not first choice and I probably could’ve done better or signed a more expensive player if I were to relax my budget structure. However, I wanted to stick to my own morals and the ideology I built for recruitment and have now got these four new signings.

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I ended up with Sari despite making two moves for Kluivert – firstly when he was still in contract with Bournemouth but was, as expected, knocked back by his €50k p/w demands and then, secondly, following his release where a meagre €15k p/w wage was agreed. Sadly, he chose to move to Portugal. What was important though here is that my move for Yusuf Sari was already underway, as I opted to consider several options at the same time before I’d then – with good fortune – be able to pull the plug on all but one. His contract is exactly as intended – a lower wage here and a secured ‘Squad Player’ status that allows him to rotate with Molinbut then earn more upon a successful season here. I liked the stats that he produced in Turkey’s top flight and he feels like a good option based on what I saw. He moved to second in the list after I watched Siaka but was unimpressed by his desire to always move to his right foot, something that Sari won’t do, allowing us to naturally narrow to create space out wide for Passlack.

Dzenan Pejcinovic wasn’t at the top of the list for a striker but, when I weighed up the pros and cons, I felt that he was a good deal on a free transfer. His history shows that he’s bobbed between the first and II team for Stuttgart but his stats, above, came from a loan at Karlsruhe, who play at our level. His attribute balance looks pretty decent for this level and, as previously stated, he’s very much backup, which my other options – namely a now-33 year old Kelechi Iheanacho – would not accept.

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Mehmet Aydin was the first purchase of my tenure here – costing €1.3m and potentially rising to €1.5m from relegated Union Berlin. As you can probably tell from this recruitment drive and built upon stats from last year – dribbling and ball carrying was key for me to improve. I feel that Aydin is capable of bombing up and down the right wing and delivering crosses. Whilst I often find myself looking at stats and thinking ‘ahhh – he’s poor’ I need to remove that sometimes. Here, Aydin is compared to all defenders in the Bundesliga, for a team who finished seventeenth. He’s still in the top 50% of defenders for progressing the ball and, despite a lot of backs to the wall defending, he still manages to intercept a decent amount. As a team that rarely found the net or were afforded any attacking freedom, it’s no wonder he didn’t dribble a huge amount. Yet, his stats compared to just full backs are decent- he can cross and has got himself a hand in a few goals, too. I think he’ll rotate nicely with Passlack despite, again, being second choice in this area after Bahia insisted on wanting €6m for a full back who’d never played in Europe before.

Javier Fernandez is the last man through the door and the one I’m most excited about. Like Ibrahimovic before him, he’s a product of Bayern II yet his formative years were at Atletico. His stats ar pretty ridiculous but it wasn’t until I watched his that I saw he played as the deepest midfielder, essentially a 6, which just stopped any dribbling from him. Yet, looking at his attributes, I feel an urge to get him carrying the ball forward and causing havoc in Zone 14.  He was first choice but I had to be very careful with the deal as Paderborn snuck in at the last minute, leading to an ultimatum where his agent said ‘pay this and he’ll come or he’s off’ – luckily, I was able to. His free transfer was the third of the summer for us.

Despite having created some €20m to play with, I spent just over 5% of that on incoming deals, instead tying a few players down to longer contracts and then starting the recruitment drive for next summer, utilising some of this money to widen my scouting scope. It might not seem much – there are no hidden gems here or players who’ve really come in to do something different to what they’ve done before but this was another summer where it was evolution and not revolution, as is my preference. It just feels so realistic – knowing that I could’ve had Kluivert (Bournemouth), Nathan (Bahia), Ulrich (Wolfsburg) in these roles but actually don’t and that I need to build the style around what I do have not what I may have wanted!

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I think that my squad is now potentially a little bloated now – 22 senior players is 3 to 4 more than I’d normally like, especially to give minutes to youth. I like to run with a smaller first team to allow opportunities and, as such, may use the remainder of the window to consider the following departures:

  • Adams out with Thiede able to cover LB andFischer able to cover at CB too.
  • Will out with Sommer or Thiede able to cover at DM and Voss on loan who can play DM and CB too.
  • Kohler out with Molina, Ibrahimov, Sari andPejcinovic able to cover at AML and Kuhn out on loan who can cover both wings too.

There does feel like there is a quite a lot riding on this season – only in terms of my objectives though, as the board are content with a top half finish again. My tactical tweaks will need to work and work quickly though if I want to achieve those goals.

Nur der VfL

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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