Santástico – Ep 4: 2021 – One hundred goals!

Welcome to the third season review episode! After the 2020 season we had Kaio Jorge halfway towards the 100 goal aim with Marcos Leonardo leading the group in Ginga Rating. When I allowed myself to close my eyes and dream going into the 2021 season, I saw Kaio Jorge reach that 100 goal mark after a splendid season and Marcos Leonardo improve on the training pitch each and every day, turning him more and more into the Next Neymar. These two were the top two prospects last season, and of course I wouldn’t mind if we picked up another gem or two in the transfer market as well this season!

Just like the previous ones, this season review episode is built around the 6 step strategy presented in a previous 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:

Let’s jump straight into the 2021 season:

1. Identify

Do you remember the HoYD candidates I tried pursuing ahead of the first season? The ones that wanted wages I couldn’t afford. Well, the jokes on them. Going into our third season they were begging to join, but I had my aim set higher. I wanted Sebastian Pait. And I got him.

The combination of the right preferred formation (4-2-3-1), a 20 in Working with Youngsters and a Perfectionist personality made him as close to the perfect candidate as possible. If there’s one thing to complain about it’s his low Level of Discipline (7). Well, he was the best available candidate by far, so I’m absolutely thrilled to get him in. He’s such an upgrade compared to our former HoYD Dias. Let the golden generations rain upon me! What, no? What do you mean? Another shitty intake? Chupa meu pau.

Very disappointing indeed. One player with a good potential and he’s a right back. Is this the first intake without a single Neymar candidate? No, it wasn’t THAT bad. There was one.

Marco Antônio Ginga Rating 63

With a glorious First Touch (17) and Flair (17) coupled with a fantastic Technique (16) Marco Antônio looks like an exciting prospect. The fact that he’s severly lacking in Dribbling (10) and basically all physical skills makes him slightly less exciting. He’s the most Neymaresque out of the bunch and will get the chance at least.

With an underwhelming youth intake we had to look elsewhere to fill up our pool of talents. We found a couple of gems, but this window was no Ronaldinho beach party…

2. Sign

Gilberto Ginga Rating 70

With a Dribbling of 16 combined with a physical setup very much suited for Ginga, Gilberto looks like a promising prospect! One major area for concern is his low Flair (10) though. Flair is a tough attribute to improve more than a few points, but I just couldn’t help myself when he had three of the five Ginga attributes at 16+.

Brandão Ginga Rating 59

Brandão is the complete opposite of Gilberto. No more than decent in any of the Ginga skills except for Flair (17). And his exceptional Flair is the sole reason I signed him. This is a bit of a risk, since he’ll need to improve massively, but with loads of potential at least he’s worth a shot!

Weverton Ginga Rating 69

Weverton is lightning fast. He’s so fast he doesn’t even need to dribble, he can just sprint past his opponents. Which is good, since neither his Dribbling (11) nor his Technique (13) is that great. We will focus heavily on his technical attributes in an attempt to increase his possibilities to use his physical advantage to a maximum!

So, these were the three more than decent talents that came in. Even though none of them look amazing I was quite satisfied, since they all had a little something extra! Then this happened. I laughed so hard when I stumbled across this player (Yes! It’s his real name!) and I just had to have him.

Super Mário Ginga Rating 62

He didn’t look too bad actually and I was pretty pleased getting him in. Signed, sealed, delivered. Bish Bash Bosh. Then the scout report came in. It’s probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen, with my scout giving him a recommendation of 15! Apparently there’s not that much that’s super about Mário. At age 15 he probably won’t develop that much, except for that sorry excuse of a mustasche! I won’t give up on him though. As a bit of a detour I’m gonna give Super Mário the chance to train with the Academy at least until age 18. I’m 100% certain he won’t turn into a Neymar, but I’m gonna see how far I can get a player without any real potential if I give him top notch conditions to improve! If I could give him a professional career playing football, that would be absolutely awesome! We’ll follow along as Super Mário (Yes. I promise you, I didn’t change his name) develops, or doesn’t, we’ll see, and check in on him from time to time.

Well, that’s all the charity work for now. Let’s look at how our actual high potential players developed over the 2021 season.

3. Train

Fernando Ginga Rating 70 (62)

When Fernando came in last season we aimed to increase his Acceleration even further, while at the same time improving his technical skills. My verdict is that we did a good job. With an Acceleration of 17 he’s getting close to “international” speed and a nice increase to both Dribbling (9->12) and Technique (12->14) means that he can hopefully keep the ball at his feet while running.
Training focus next season: We’ll keep working on his Ball Control and perhaps throw in a bit of Agility and Balance training towards the end of the season.

Cesinha Ginga Rating 68 (57)

Oh my god. Meu. Deus. Cesinha improved basically everything, sky rocketing his Ginga Rating from 57 to 68, while improving every other aspect of his game at the same time. At 16 years of age he’s gone from decent prospect to mouth watering Neymar wannabe!
Training focus next season: His Acceleration still needs a lot of work, so Quickness will be the primary focus.

Gilberto Ginga Rating 73 (70)

Gilberto who came in ahead of this season improved at least a little. He managed to raise his relatively low Flair (10->11) and Technique (11->12)by one and increase his already high Acceleration (16->17), raising his Ginga Rating by three points. He also improved quite a bit physically, making him better prepared for first team football in the future.
Training focus next season: Despite great Dribbling and First Touch, we’ll focus on his Ball Control to try to increase Technique.

Kauhan Ginga Rating 72 (65)

We certainly succeeded in our primary training focus going into the 2021 season for Kauhan, which was to improve his Dribbling (10->13). He improved another three Ginga skills, giving him a total Ginga Rating increase of 7 points.
Training focus next season: We’ll keep the same plan as last season, working on Dribbling first of all. After that physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Quickness.

Júlio Baptista Ginga Rating 75 (74)

It’s not the first time we see this, and most likely not the last time either. A player that follow up a great development last season with pretty much no development at all this season. Very disappointing, but we won’t give up!
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on his physical skills. A bit of Stamina and Strength to improve him overall.

Ronaldo Love Ginga Rating 66 (61)

Even though he didn’t manage to replicate his 10 point Ginga Rating increase from last season, Ronaldo Love still improved nicely. We managed to improve his physical skills making him fairly well-rounded in that department, while he continued to develop his technical skills. His low Flair (12) is a problem, but we’ll keept trying to improve what we can.
Training focus next season: We’ll start the season working on physical skills. Quickness followed by Agility and Balance. If we can get both Acceleration and Agility to 15 we’ll move on to Ball Control.

João Paulo Ginga Rating 72 (67)

“O pequeno mago” or “The little wizard” had a good season on the training pitch. He improved by a total of 27 skill points and 5 Ginga skill points. However, João Paulo‘s biggest development came in his defensive skills, which is reflected by his media description switch from “Attacking midfielder” to “Cultured centre-back”. Nonsense. Has anyone ever heard of a centre-back wizard? No, I didn’t think so either.
Training focus next season: Both his technical and physical skills need work. A little more Ball Control to get Dribbling to 15, then we’ll move on to Quickness.

Renyer Ginga Rating 73 (71)

Slow but steady. That seems to be Renyer’s melody. Last season I stated that he’d get one more season to show some serious improvement, which he hasn’t. He didn’t stop developing altogether though, which means I’ll give him one more season.
Training focus next season: Agility and Balance improved last season but still needs an increase. If he reaches an Agility of 15 during next season we’ll work a bit on his Strength.

Nilcleiton Ginga Rating 74 (67)

Nilcleiton came in last season oozing with Flair, but lacking in Dribbling. So, he basically knew exactly how to perform complex skills, but lacked the ability to perform them!? Well, he improved both Dribbling (11->13) and Technique (14->16) together with most of his physical skills, making him a much more well-rounded player. Let’s keep building on this!
Training focus next season: He’s not fast, far from it. He’ll spend next season working on Quickness.

Douglas Jardel Ginga Rating 76 (71)

A nice 27 point total improvement was pretty close to what we had hoped for. A 5 point increase to Douglas Jardel‘s Ginga Rating makes him quite the spectacular player, and with a decent improvement of his physical skills this is still the area where he lacks the most.
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on the physical attributes. Quickness followed by a bit of Strength training.

Marcos Leonardo Ginga Rating 80 (79)

Only 1 point improvement to his Ginga Rating (Acc+Agi is supposed to be 0 in the figure to the left) which is a disappointment. Marcos Leonardo is an amazing player, but he’s no Neymar and his development has slowed down quite significantly. We need to get him to 100 goals and move him along to maximise his development!
Training focus next season: Since Acceleration is his biggest weakness Ginga wise, we’ll continue to work on Quickness.

Fábio José Ginga Rating 80 (77)

Fábio José suffered a serious injury that kept him sidelined for almost three months. This lead to two things; we didn’t get as much development out of him as we had hoped and the injury seemed to change him somehow. From always topping the training report each month to not ever appearing on the top three was a disappointing development to say the least.
Training focus next season: We’ll focus on Agility and Balance, before mixing in a bit of Stamina and Strength training to get him better prepared for first team football.

Talles Magno Ginga Rating 78 (77)

Talles Magno is the first in a line of four players that basically hasn’t improved at all. I don’t know if it’s because of the fact that they’ve been playing too much (and therefore training less), if the quality of games or training is to low or if it’s simply a matter of them getting close to their potential. It’s terribly disappointing though, and it makes me feel like I’m further from creating the Next Neymar than I was a year ago. We won’t give up on all of these guys yet though. We’ll keep working with Talles Magno, hoping that he’ll improve a lot next season as a reaction to this developmental plateau.
Training focus next season: Primarily physical skills. Quickness followed by Agility and Balance.

Gabriel Pirani Ginga Rating 75 (73)

Chupe minhas bolas.


Kaio Jorge Ginga Rating 70 (70)

We can’t give up on our first player to reach 100 goals, can we? No, of course we can’t. Not even when he refuses to improve a single point. We’ll most likely need to move him along though, for my mental health and his development’s sake!
Training focus next season: Still Ball Control first and foremost. Probably all season long, since there’s a lot of room for improvement there.

Lucas Sena Ginga Rating 77 (77)



Lucas Lourenco Ginga Rating 76 (72)

Despite him reaching the age where development rates start to slow down, Lucas Lourenco is still improving nicely! However, at the age of 20 I felt that it was time to start working on player traits to start replicating the styles of Neymar and Pélé and not just their skill sets. I’m therefore proud to inform you that Lucas Lourenco is now comfortable to try tricks. My ass man was worried that Lucas would not be able to pick up this trait considering his fairly low Flair (12), but Lucas proved him wrong. Ha! At the age of 20, he’s currently the oldest player in this challenge and with a Ginga Rating of 76 it’s becoming more and more unlikely that he’ll reach the levels of Neymar. He’s turning into quite an exciting playmaker though, and I intend to keep him on the team, but most likely he’ll not be part of the challenge anymore. Instead he’ll be serving our future Neymars with delicate passes to score from!

4. Mentor

With our mentors closing in on retirement we had to try to bring in new ones.

Both Radamel Falcao and Fernandinho looked like the perfect fit as mentors for us and where actually good enough to play a game or two as well. Jackpot! We got offers for them accepted and they expressed enough early interest to discuss contracts, but that’s where it ended. They both wanted wages we were nowhere close to matching. Actually neither of them would settle for less than three times the £48k p/w we could offer them.

After a couple of sales from our side and getting a month or so closer to their contracts expiring we managed to sign them both! Falcao straight away and Fernandinho at the end of his contract. Top quality mentors!

My thoughts previously when constructing mentoring groups had been to simply use one influential mentor with Model Citizen or Model Professional personality and put them together with a group of young players to influence them positively. Since then I’ve received indications that there may be other factors involved as well. Smaller mentoring units, same social group and training unit for mentor and mentee may influence in a positive way. Therefore my mentoring units looked like this going into the 2021 season.

With three top quality mentors influencing our young players and a bit of a rework of the mentoring groups, we’ll hopefully start seeing some nice personality improvements next season.

So, how did the team and the players perform this season? Well, not too bad actually…

5. Play games

Even though we didn’t manage to replicate the League/Copa Libertadores double from last season, we still did enough to keep the managerial job, which is basically all that I care about at the moment. Sure, winning trophies is fun and it helps to build the narrative of players becoming immortal Santos FC heroes, but as you know it’s not what the series is about. The series is about golazos and Ginga warriors. So, did we start scoring this season?

Yes, we sure did! That’s what I’m talking about! Finally our players seem to understand where the goal is situated! Kaio Jorge was of course the stand out performer, but both Talles Magno and Marcos Leonardo started to find the net more than occasionally!

Kaio Jorge‘s 60 goal season meant two things; firstly he beat the old Santos FC goalscoring record (only set two years ago, but still), but more importantly he reached the 100 goal aim! This means that he has performed up to par with what Neymar did before moving to Europe. To reach the heights of Pélé he’d need to stay with Santos for basically his entire career, but that’s not what this series is about. No, to complete the challenge of becoming the next Neymar we need to secure Kaio Jorge a move overseas! Kaio Jorge also played his first international game for Brazil. Nice! Now there are only 89 caps and 50 international goals left to reach that aim of the challenge as well!

6. Sell

Kaio Jorge has not been sold yet, but he’s the first player to be eligible for a move to Europe after reaching 100+ goals. Does this also mean that he overtakes Marcos Leonardo for the first place in our “Next Neymar ranking”? The only way to find out is to keep reading!

5. Gilberto (New)

With Lucas Lourenco out of the picture, looking like a Neymar impersonator combined with scoring twice was apparently enough to earn a spot on this list! All jokes aside, Gilberto looks like an exciting player, but he needs to step up to remain on this list next season!

4. Fábio José (4th)

Not a lot happening here. Simply having the joint highest Ginga Rating is enough to keep his 4th place on the list. However, as I’ve stated before. It isn’t enough to look like Neymar, eventually you need to start producing as well. Rather sooner than later, please!?

3. Talles Magno (3rd)

Despite his lack of development Talles Magno retains the third place on this list, purely based on the fact that he’s the second closest player to reach 100 goals! An awesome player, but the lack of development is worrying…

2. Marcos Leonardo (1st)

So, Marcos Leonardo finally fell down from the top of the list. It’s just not enough to be the best player Ginga wise, when you don’t produce the goods. With 33 goals scored he’s only one third on his way towards the 100 goals aim, which means that he’s probably got another two or three years at least before he’s ready to move to Europe.

1. Kaio Jorge (2nd)

I know, I know. You already guessed it. 49 goals last season didn’t put Kaio Jorge top of the list, but 109 goals in total after this season sure did! He’s also our first player to play for the Brazilian national team, which makes him stand out even more compared to the rest. When it comes to Ginga, he’s got a long way to go until he reaches 90, but a move to Europe might give him that developmental boost that he so desperately needs!?

That’s it for this time. Things are moving slowly forward, but I feel that these posts have grown a little stale and monotonous. I had hoped for more to happen three seasons in, but with Kaio Jorge reaching 100 goals things might actually start moving a bit! I’ll mix things up with a slightly different episode next, where I’ll go through the lessons learned after three seasons and how they affect my strategy going forward.

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