How I Replaced My Best Player On FM18

Welcome back to Colombia and FM18, it has been a while! I thought I had better update you before the new game drops. You might need a quick refresher course as I now realise I’ve not told you what happened at the end of the first season. The problem with being on Slack, Twitter and Podcasting is you kind of forget where you’re up to. So, where were we? Well, the first phase of season one ended in heroic failure, we bottled a lead in the second leg and ‘fell at the final hurdle’. From there I brought you up to date with our relatively impressive cup run and displayed some of the up and coming youth. So now the big task starts with transfer windows and replacing your best players.

Truth is I have had this post planned since the introduction way back when FM18 was box fresh. Judging from previous years playing this game, unless you’re at the top level, which let’s face it, no one starts at, the chances are you’ll be replacing important players fairly regularly. One point I outlined in my Introduction was that I did not want to just let a player leave just because they wanted to. I would try to hold onto my best players, ride out their unhappiness and then reintegrate when they’re ready to see the light and grow a pair and stay. I’ll still be trying to avoid that but since the start of the save América have had a number of players on loan, players which a Colombian side probably couldn’t afford, so we need to replace them. Now, the funny thing is that Dario Bottinelli, who we are trying to replace, still has six months to run on his 18-month loan deal, but we will plan ahead and try to get someone else to take over before he scoots.

Bottinelli in September 2017, a few months before the end of the season because I forgot to get a screenshot of him at the end

First things first a save update, how did the second phase go, did we go a step better? No, we actually regressed a little. Were we able to qualify for next seasons Copa Libertadores? Yes, only just but we made it into the hat.

As you can see the start of the season went very well with five straight wins and only one narrow loss in our first nine games.

The second portion of the season we fell away and struggled to score in a lot of games. Three goals in six games towards the middle of the season not only cost us points but we started to slip in the league. Fortunately, no one else was really able to sort themselves out and we finished third to qualify for the knockouts quite comfortably.

This set up a quarter-final against fifth-place Atletico Huila, whom we had beaten 1-0 home and away during the regular season. Oddly we didn’t turn up during the first leg at home and got beaten 0-2. A penalty started them off before halftime and as we pushed to get back into the game they hit us again. Onto the away leg and we got back into the tie, taking a 2-0 lead after 21 minutes. We couldn’t find another goal to turn the tie in our favour and then with 14 minutes remaining we conceded and lost 2-3 on aggregate. A frustrating end to the season given our overachievement from the first phase.

Even with a mountain ti climb Bottinelli was the one to get us back into the tie

All that did mean that we finished fourth overall in the combined table and thus took the final qualifying spot for the Copa Libertadores! Another aim ticked off. By the way, the extra games in the league table are due to playoff games won which give extra points, without which we wouldn’t have made the top four.

Bottinelli was one of the stand out players over the course of the season with 6 goals, 10 assists and an average rating of 7.26 in 38 games, all from the left wing. So how do I go about replacing that level of performance? Six goals won’t be too difficult to replace, there should be enough quality in the side to make up for that but Dario was the top assister in the team so replacing this will be my primary objective. But, how to replace him will be key, do I purely replace his attributes or do I try to replace the stats he was posting during the season?

Taking into account some of his key attributes for the winger role I decided to search what players could be available if interest to join wasn’t a problem. Disclaimer: Attribute masking is off for my save because its a game and has taken me almost four months to overtake the real date (23rd February 2018) with the in-game date. Like I am going to do anything to slow it even more!

From the above search criteria, you can see the kind of players which are coming up as similar to Bottinelli if interest and value was no issue.

Time to narrow it down a little, so I select to match at least six of the nine chosen values, something which I did not know was a thing.

That produced two names and, given the foreigner restrictions in Colombia, I was overjoyed to see a national pop up. Ricardo Castro seemed to fit the bill quite well and, at 22, had plenty of years left.

In some areas, he comes out worse, but given the difference in value, wage and nationality I cannot see a better option. But what about replacing the stats Bottinelli was posting during the season?

This was harder to find but we our search did bring up a possibility in David Cortés. He had not played as many games as I would have liked but his stats were up there with Bottinelli’s.

In the end, I signed Castro based on his attributes and allowed Cortes to move to fellow Liga Postobon side Atletico Bucaramanga. Only time will tell if this was the right thing to do but the initial signs are good. As you can see below Castro has started off well. From seven matches (Liga Postobon and Colombian First Division First Phase are the same thing) he has two assists, a goal and an average rating of 7.33. Early days yet but he is performing both in the numbers and while watching the game, as Bottinelli was.

Early season stats from Ricardo Castro

As to whether I made the right choice, below is a comparison of the stats posted by Cortes for Bucaramanga after seven appearances and although they are 5th, one point ahead of us at the time of writing, he has not quite had the same impact.

Cortes on the left vs my chosen player Castro on the right

So for now it seems like the right choice but if Cortes keeps posting similar stats over the course of the season he may be one to consider bringing in for the future. As a little side note, Bottinelli is still playing for me and in four games he has a goal and two assists, the same as Castro. It is just a shame he will cost more than my transfer budget and has wages which are 4,000£/week more than my top earning player. I could look to loan him again, or look into the option to loan a similar player, something which we discussed on the latest Tempo10 podcast. If you haven’t gotten round to listening or following please do so, link below.

Too long; didn’t read? We did not perform as well in the second league phase as the first going out at the quarterfinal stage but we did qualify for next seasons Copa Libertadores. Also, my best player will leave so I signed a player as close to his attributes as I could and he is good!

Until next time, maybe April, stay safe x

Tempo10 Podcast – If you like reading my blog but want to know what kind of voice I have then please give our little podcast as listen. Although please continue to listen after getting over the initial disappointment about my voice. Oh, and follow us on TWITTER

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