Santástico – Ep 3: 2020 – Do the Ma-Ka-Re-Ta!

Welcome to the second season review episode! These episodes will focus almost exclusively on talent development and our players, but I’ll mention how Santos FC did very briefly as well. The aim of the series is to try to create the Next Neymar!

I’m building this episode around the 6 step strategy presented in the first episode, which will hopefully make for a good read! If you don’t know what I’m on about and can’t be bothered to follow the link above, this is it:

In each step I’ll go through a different aspect of our hunt for the Next Neymar, like recruiting, training, mentoring etc.

In 2019, our first season, not a lot happened. I’m very excited for this 2020 season, though. We go into it with a strong group of young players and my challenge now is to nurture them in training, work on improving the mentoring and make them score goals for fun! I’m loving this and I hope you do too!

So, let’s start by looking at the 2020 youth inake. Could it match the great 2019 intake where our HoYD Dias even uttered the magical words “golden generation”.

1. Identify

Well no. Not even close actually, which was pretty much expected. We can’t go around expecting a golden generation every year, can we? That would probably take away the golden shimmer surrounding these mythical words…

We weren’t really taken by surprise by the lacklustre intake though. The youth intake preview had painted a rather dull picture, lowering our expectations, which meant that us being able to add two players to the Academy felt like a win!

Boquita Ginga Rating 71

A late bloomer, coming through the youth intake at age 18 he’s considered by many as perhaps too late. Growing up playing mainly futsal and street football Boquita has refined his Acceleration (16), Technique (16) and Flair (15), making him an interesting prospect. He needs to adapt quickly to organised football and training though, if he wants to prove his doubters wrong.

Júnior César Ginga Rating 60

Júnior César, the second player to come through our youth intake this season is a lot less exciting than Boquita. He has one big advantage though, his age. When you take the fact that he’s only 15 years old into consideration, he becomes much more interesting! Without any real weaknesses he has a solid foundation to build on, but without any real strengths either, there is a big risk that he’ll end up bland and unexciting.

2. Sign

With a fairly low likelihood of any of these two players becoming the Next Neymar it was good that we had better luck in the transfer market this season compared to the last. In 2019 we struggled to find any really good players to bring in and the feeling was that we had arrived a bit too late to the party. This season we experienced something that must come as close as humanly possible to the feeling Ronaldinho gets when he arrives at a Brazilian samba carnival. The feeling that the party stops for a second when you enter the room, everyone looks at you, the sudden center of attention. Every lightly dressed woman there taking a step towards you, inviting you to join the festivities! This transfer window was our party and talents were up for the taking!

Talles Magno Ginga Rating 76

Is this cheating? Not according to the rules I’ve set for this series, even though bringing in a player for £15M might be considered a shortcut at least. Well, we have the money. Why not spend it? The aim of the series is to produce the next Neymar, and Talles Magno certainly has the tools to give it his best shot. With an excellent Flair (17) coupled with great Technique (16) and Dribbling (15) he’s certainly a player you feel safe giving the ball to. He can operate from a wide position, but with decent size he can also pose a threat in the box.

Cesinha Ginga Rating 57

Fierce rivals Flamengo let Cesinha go for £825K, which feels way too cheap. Perhaps he doesn’t have the obvious Neymaresque qualities about him, but he’s certainly worth a shot! A height of 193cm combined with good technical abilities certainly makes him interesting at least!

Douglas Jardel Ginga Rating 71

Douglas Jardel’s exquisite offensive skills stand out. His First Touch (16), Dribbling (15) and Technique (16) makes it really hard for opponents to take the ball away from him. If he can improve his below average physical skills he’ll certainly become a player to look out for!

Fernando Ginga Rating 62

Fernando is the opposite of Douglas Jardel, lightning fast but struggling with the ball at his feet. At age 15, hopes are high that he can both improve his Acceleration (16) a bit further to give him that international speed and work hard on his technical skills.

João Paulo Ginga Rating 67

João Paulo finds solutions that others can’t even imagine. He’s even called “O pequeno mago” or “The little wizard”, a nickname he earned as a kid playing in the streets of Londrina where he grew up. If he can improve his speed both on and off the ball there’s no telling how good he can become!

Nilcleilton Ginga Rating 67

Nilcleiton is pretty well-rounded when it comes to Ginga, even though his Flair (17) stands out. Together with a good Vision (14) he has a way of finding effective and exciting solutions to problems on the pitch. He makes the game look easy, but he needs to improve the difficult stuff as well. Like Dribbling (11) for example.

Some pretty exciting signings there, with Talles Magno making an immediate impact as you’ll see below. Next, let’s look at the improvements our players made on the training pitch!

3. Train

Kaio Henrique Ginga Rating 54 (50)

Kaio Henrique came through last season’s youth intake looking more like a future Hulk than a future Neymar. However, with a Flair of 17, he was deemed worthy of a chance. Did he take it? Well, not really. A slight increase in Ginga rating leaves him far off the aim of 90 and I don’t think it matters that he’s only 16 years old. No matter how much we try to mould him into Neymar we won’t succeed. It’s impossible to push a square peg through a round hole, let’s fight the battles we can win etc. He still looks like a player exciting enough to be kept at the club, but he won’t be a part of this challenge anymore. We’ll try to make him into a great central midfielder instead.

Kauhan Ginga Rating 65 (55)

Kauhan also came through last season’s youth intake. He shared the Flair of 17 with Kaio Henrique but differed in most other aspects. He displayed a good Technique, but needed to work on his physical skills and his Dribbling. And boy did he work on them! With a 10 point improvement in his Ginga skills he sure looks more Neymaresque than what he did last year, but he also significantly improved his other skills, making him a much better player in every aspect of the game. He needs to improve however, he still has a long way to go. Even though he improved his weaknesses, they’re still his weaknesses, which means he’ll need to keep working on them.
Training focus next season: Dribbling first of all. After that physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Quickness.

Júlio Baptista Ginga Rating 74 (66)

Júlio Baptista was the only player we managed to poach during last season’s intake day. Well-rounded, but perhaps came in because of a lack of competition. He improved nicely over the season, primarily in his technical skills offensively. A massive 4 point boost to his Dribbling sent him from decent dribbler to serious attacking threat! He also underwent a nice personality improvement, finally starting to believe in himself! Good for you, Júlio!
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on his physical skills. Agility and Balance primarily and then perhaps a bit of Stamina and Strength to improve him overall.

Ronaldo Love Ginga Rating 61 (51)

The man with the name. Ronaldo Love. Voices were raised last season that he was only in this because of that, his name. He proved the doubters wrong by improving his Ginga Rating by ten (10!) points over the season, now rightfully earning a spot in the Academy. He stll has a long way to go, but if he can keep this up for a couple of seasons he’ll become lethal! If he doesn’t, well, he’ll still have his name. Ronaldo Love.
Training focus next season: Primarily physical skills. Quickness followed by Agility and Balance.

Renyer Ginga Rating 71 (67)

Renyer didn’t manage to follow up his good development from last season. Despite focusing his individual training on Quickness followed by Agility and Balance he only managed to increase these skills by a single point. +2 increases to Technique and Vision will of course come in handy, but except for those, not a lot happened. Disappointing. Is he getting close to hitting his potential or was this season just a mishap? He’ll get one more season to show me that he really wants this!
Training focus next season: Agility and Balance needs a serious increase. If he reaches an Agility of 15 during next season we’ll work a bit on his Strength.

Marcos Leonardo Ginga Rating 79 (75)

Ok. So a 4 point increase to his already high Ginga Rating and a total 20 point improvement isn’t awful. I’m still disappointed though. I had higher expectations after Marcos Leonardo‘s glorious development last season. I really hoped that he would keep that pace up to get him closer to the desired Ginga Rating of 90, but sadly that didn’t happen. Marcos Leonardo is still the player with the highest Ginga rating, but he needs to keep improving to reach the levels of Neymar!
Training focus next season: Since Acceleration is his biggest weakness Ginga wise, he’ll primarily work on Quickness.

Fábio José Ginga Rating 77 (67)

Boom! What a development! With +3 increases to both Dribbling (14) and Technique (15) Fábio José can now take full advantage of his Flair of 20! A total 56 point improvement is a new club record and makes it tingle in my tummy! What if he could develop like this for another season!? What if! He’s nowhere near the finished product so he better keep it up if he wants to become the next great thing!
Training focus next season: We’ll continue to focus on Ball Control. If he reaches 15 in both Dribbling and First Touch we’ll mix in a bit of Stamina and Strength training to get him better prepared for first team football.

Gabriel Pirani Ginga Rating 73 (71)

Focusing on Agility and Balance didn’t do much for these attributes. Hell, nothing Gabriel Pirani did on the training pitch this season seemed to help him much. Was he even there? A disappointing 2 point increase to his Ginga Rating and a total improvement of 11 points. Since I’m a patient man I’m giving Gabriel one more season to improve. He can’t be this bad all the time, can he?
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on physical skills. Quickness followed by Agility and Balance.

Lázaro Ginga Rating 72 (69)

If you thought Gabriel Pirani was a disappointment, say hi to Lázaro. Look at him, poster boy for laziness. Nearly no improvement to his attributes at all. He’s gained 3 kilograms during the season though, and since he didn’t improve his Strength (11) I suppose they’re not muscles. I’m guessing it’s pure candy. Out of the five attributes he improved, three of them were Ginga skills. He knew I’d look at them straight away and thought he could fool me by putting all his (small) efforts there. Lazy but sly. He can’t fool me though. Spending an entire season eating candy is not acceptable. Adeus, Lázaro!

Kaio Jorge Ginga Rating 70 (66)

The jewel in our crown, our brightest shining star! The hope of mankind! Well, that last bit was a slight exaggeration, but both me and the fans are hoping Kaio Jorge will turn into a superstar! He followed up last season’s six point Ginga Rating increase with another four this season, adding up to a total of ten in two seasons. That’s good, but not excellent. Considering that he’s 18 years old there is a risk that he won’t develop THAT much more in years to come. We’ll keep hoping and praying, though!
Training focus next season: Ball Control first and foremost. Probably all season long, since there’s a lot of room for improvement there.

Caio Mota Ginga Rating 66 (63)

A decent development for a player that turned 19 during this season. Caio Mota’s +1s in the Ginga skills Dribbling (16), Technique (12) and Acceleration (15) was good, but he’s simply too far away from the aim of a Ginga Rating of 90. Sorry my friend, it’s just not enough. I need to make room for younger guys.

Ed Carlos Ginga Rating 72 (72)

Vai tomar no cu, Ed Carlos! Vai tomar no cu! That’s all I have to say. Go look it up on google translate. His media description going from “Promising Attacking Midfielder” to simply “Attacking Midfielder” says it all.

Lucas Sena Ginga Rating 77 (75)

A total improvement of 12 points. Meh. Not amazing in any way, but with a 2 point increase to his Ginga Rating, Lucas Sena has one of the highest ratings in the squad. I’ll give him one more season, there’s still a lot of room to improve his physical skills.
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Strength.

Lucas Lourenco Ginga Rating 72 (66)

Look at this, all you other 19-year olds out there! This is the sort of improvement I’m looking for! Look at my boy Lucas Lourenco! He really improved after a lack-lustre performance last season. Perhaps he matured and took his football more seriously or he was simply scared to death after I told him I’d send him back to the favela if he didn’t get his shit together. Either way, very encouraging development!
Training focus next season: Ball Control followed by Agility and Balance.

4. Mentor

We brought in Zabaleta and Palacios as new mentors ahead of this season, but that didn’t improve our mentoring results a whole lot. Lucas Lourenco managed to improve his personality from Balanced to Spirited, but that was pretty much it. I need to seek a bit of expert guidance on how to use the mentoring to better effect! I have high hopes that you could really mould young players through mentoring, but I haven’t managed to get it working properly yet. Well, I hope to come back with better knowledge, hopefully improving next season!

Now, let’s take a look at the results this season!

5. Play games

For Santos FC the 2020 season was indeed a great one, in fact it is probably one that old wrinkled men will tell their grand-children about in 50 years from now.

A triple winning season doesn’t come often. And when the triple involves both the league and the Copa Libertadores you know that you must cherish the memories of this season. The miserable results in both the State Championship and Brazilian Cup are already forgotten, along with the humiliating 5-0 defeat against Manchester City in the FIFA Club World Cup final. All that people remember are the Copa Libertadores final win against Flamengo and the nerve-wrecking final round of the league that saw the black and white heroes pass the same Flamengo team to win their first league title since 2004!

When it came to playing time eleven of our younger players played at least five games, with Kaio Jorge, Talles Magno, Marcos Leonardo and Lucas Lourenco playing more than 40 games, which is great for their development. I really tried to play Renyer ahead of Lucas Lourenco, simply so I could call our front 4 “The Ma-Ka-Re-Ta”, but Lucas Lourenco was too good to keep on the bench.

Sadly, “The Lo-Ta-Ma-Ka” doesn’t have the same ring to it…Anyhow, back to the important stuff. Scoring goals has proven quite difficult, except for Kaio Jorge, who added 33 to last season’s 16, giving him a total of 49 Santos FC goals. With this he is halfway towards the aim of 100 goals, after which he’ll be eligible for a move to Europe. He’s also by far the player closest to this, with Talles Magno in second place with only 15.

6. Sell

Still no players ready for Europe and therefore no players out, but several of them took steps in the right direction! Kaio Jorge is halfway there goal wise, but will that give him the top spot on our ranking this season? Since the number of really interesting players keep rising I’ve decided to expand last season’s top 3 into a top 5! To make things a little more exciting (the suspence!) I’ve decided to start from the bottom.

5. Lucas Lourenco (New on the list)

This season’s surprising development on the training pitch earns him a spot on the list. Considering the fact that he’s already 19 years old and have only reached a Ginga Rating of 72, makes him highly unlikely to ever reach the heights of Neymar, but with another season like this one, who knows!?

4. Fábio José (3rd)

The dark horse on last season’s list has really done everything right to remain on it. With an exceptional development he is looking more and more like a young Neymar for every day that goes by. Now he needs to start producing in games as well!

3. Talles Magno (New)

If you come in for £15M from a Brazilian competitor, the highest transfer fee Santos has ever paid for a player, expectations are naturally going to be high. Talles Magno hasn’t made anyone disappointed after scoring 15 goals from his right wing position. This was the start that everyone had hoped for when he signed. Now he needs to replicate this, and preferably a little better, for several years to come. No biggie, right!?

2. Kaio Jorge (2nd)

No, 49 goals won’t put you on top of this list. At least not when your biggest competitor looks more or less like a reincarnation of Neymar. It does put you in the front of the pack in the race for Europe though! If Kaio Jorge can keep this up I’m certain he’ll reach 100 goals within the next two seasons, perhaps even in one! Whether he’ll develop his technical skills enough to pass off as a heir to the throne of Neymar is another issue…

1. Marcos Leonardo (1st)

Eleven goals in two season means that there’s 89 goals left to reach 100, I know. And if Marcos Leonardo keeps this pace he’ll reach Europe by the year 2037. I know that he can’t go on like this forever, but look at his attributes! He’s “only” 11 Ginga points away from that illusive 90 point mark, making it at least slightly possible to get there. As soon as Kaio Jorge reaches 100 goals I’ll move him to the Attacking Forward position, which will probably get him to Europe in less than 16 seasons…I have high hopes!

So, all in all another good season, but without that real oomph. Sure, we have a very talented group of players to work with, but there are several worries. We aren’t really close to reaching either of the Ginga Rating or Santos FC 100 goals aim, and let’s not even mention the aim of 90 caps and 50 goals for Brazil…Mentoring has been underwhelming and we need to score more goals. I feel that we need to improve everything at least one notch next season or I might have to start rethinking my approach! If you have any ideas that could help, feel free to let me know! See you soon!

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