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Santástico – Ep 9: 2024 – A Santástico goes Galáctico!

So, it finally happened. We managed to sell one of our better players to a European club. I know that this is not the way these episodes are supposed to start, but I couldn’t help myself. We finally made a sale to Europe, and it’s a big one!

Towards the end of a splendid season last year, European clubs started to show a bit of interest in the 20-year-old Renyer. The occasional scout visiting games once in a while suddenly turned into several scouts from all the big European clubs each game. When the January transfer window opened, clubs started firing like in the good old wild west, trying to outbid each other. In April, after a frantic bidding war, Real Madrid came out victorius. An unprecedented £80M transfer fee for a player from a Brazilian club was impossible to resist, but the actual move wouldn’t take place until July.

This meant that I had a little more than three months to do everything in my power to get Renyer from 74 to 100 goals before the transfer was finalised! Impossible you say? Well, I tried my very best by playing him in the striker position and putting him as our first penalty taker, but you’re absolutely right. A 4 week injury made it impossible to reach the 100 goal aim, even though I doubt we would have gotten there anyway. We only got him to 81 goals, which means that I need to bring him back to Santos later in his career for another 19 goals. That is a problem for the future. Right now I’m over the moon about finally getting a player to Europe!

80 million pounds, what are you going to do with all that money, you might ask. Well, my initial plan was to spend it all on bringing Neymar back to Santos FC.

Neymar is our spirit animal if you wish. He’s always with us, commenting on player performances, reminiscing over old derby feelings, hailing MikaelinhoFM as a true Santos legend after finally winning the São Paulo State Championship. Yes, you read that correctly. We finally managed to win the Paulistão! It only took us six attempts to win it!

Back to Neymar. Our initial plan was to sign him and he expressed an interest to “come home”. The only issue was the price tag. PSG turned down our £80M bid. And or £100M bid. And our £120M bid. I offered them £140M, which is a tad much for a player we don’t actually need. PSG stalled the bid and I thought “whatever, he’s only got one year left on his contract and wants to come home. If they turn down this bid I can wait for him”. While they were stalling it, Neymar signed a one year extension out of the blue and was all of a sudden not at all interested in returning to Brazilian football. This pissed me off and in a fit of rage I spent the entire transfer budget elsewhere. We’ll get back to that shortly.

As you’ve noticed I’ve completely gone off the beaten path of my usual structure, and that’s simply down to the fact that so much happened this season. I’ll try to make it a bit structured from now on!

Identify/sign

Since signing Sebastian Pait, on paper a much more suitable HoYD than our previous one, we’ve had nothing but poor intakes. This season’s intake was no exception.

At first sight it looks like a sorry bunch, and after going through them individually I can’t find any reason to change that opinion. Guiba is the player with the highest potential and he’s also the only player with a Ginga Rating over 50. Not a player that makes me fall off my chair, but at least he’s good enough to get an updated newgen face (They are made by the amazing Laura/ChilledMoose).

Guiba Ginga Rating 64

Guiba is fairly well-rounded when it comes to Ginga, but a Flair of 13 is quite worrying, as well as his high age. I really don’t like players coming through the intake at age 18, because it means that they have most likely missed the most important years development wise. If he shows an explosive development he might become a player worth keeping, but I have a feeling that this will be a one year thing…

We also brought in one more youth player, João Marcos.

João Marcos Ginga Rating 61

This year seemed really poor, not only for us but for all Brazilian clubs when it came to offensive talents. João Marcos was the brightest star out of a fairly lack-lustre bunch and of course we had to snatch him away from Palmeiras. He cost us £5M, which was probably too much, but since he was the only really good one out of the bunch we had to have him. He needs to improve massively though to become more than half decent.

This was the only young talent we brought in, but not the only signing we made. Do you remember when I wrote that I spent our entire transfer budget in rage!? Well, I brought in a bit of quality even though it didn’t come cheap.

I felt the need to strengthen our defense and boy did I do exactly that! At age 30 Marquinhos has many years left of top football in him. For a fee of £50M we didn’t only get a solid defender, we also got a leader in the locker room, filled with experience of what it takes to reach the top clubs in Europe.

The second player we brought in could share similar stories, but is probably not even at his peak yet!

After a falling out with Barcelona Arthur had become transfer listed, but I was still surprised that he was interested in talking to us after Barca accepted my £68M bid for him. At age 27, playing for Barcelona and the Brazil national team one would think that he would want to stay in Europe, but no. He wanted to come home and no-one was happier than me! We get another experienced player to help the team on field and guide our young talents. I’m so excited!

After these two signings there were no money left in the bank, but on the other hand there were no positions that I felt needed any more strenghtening either. I was perfectly happy with the squad, now a mix of actual world-class players and young talents! With the recent change to training it feels like we’ve got all the ingredients to maximise the development of our young talents. Let’s read on to see if reality matched my expectations!?

Training/mentoring

If we look at the development this season we have a new Ginga Rating record in Gilberto‘s 85! Most players, except for the oldest had a nice development and it actually looks like the changes in training has had an effect, which makes me very happy! The table on the left shows the total no of improvement points per player sorted from highest to lowest for the 2023 (left) and 2024 (right) season. Despite a slightly higher age average in 2024 improvements were greater. Five players managed a 30+ increase in 2024 compared to two players in 2023. The average increase was also significantly higher in 2024 than in 2023, with 20.06 compared to 13.94. These figures look really promising and I look forward to gathering more data over the coming years to see if this was simply a statistical anomaly or actually a result of the training revamp!

We’ll look at five players a bit closer, our new Ginga Rating leader Gilberto together with the four players with the biggest development. Let’s start off with Gilberto.

What if his Flair wasn’t a lowly 13? Then Gilberto would perhaps have reached that magical Ginga Rating of 90 by now. Now it will be hard, even though he is our best player Ginga wise. If he doesn’t manage to increase his Flair he’ll need to reach 20 in 3 out of 4 of the other skills. I don’t know what is toughest, increasinge Flair or reaching 20 in the other skills. Nevermind, his Ginga Rating of 85 is a new club record. Congrats, Gilberto!

Alécio finally showed a bit of improvement after two awful seasons that meant a one (1!) point improvement from age 15 to 17. The 44 point increase this season was our biggest, even though it gives him a less impressive average increase of 15 points per season over the last three seasons. Well, this final display of character means that he bought himself another season…

Daniel came in last season and impressed straight away. A 7 point Ginga Rating increase and a total 38 point increase was more than decent. Let’s hope he keeps it up!

Young striker Marcus Vinicius followed up last season’s solid 27 point increase with an even better 35 point increase this season. He’s now at a decent Ginga Rating of 75, but is sadly lacking a bit of Flair (13), which will probably prevent him from reaching the heights of Neymar.

The final player to look at is Pedro, who has a second consecutive great season development wise. A 5 point Ginga Rating increase and a 37 point total increase means that he’s increased by a total of 69 points over tha last two seasons. Impressive!

No spectacular statistical revelations when we look at the overall picture. The youngest player developed the most, while the oldest player, Kaio Jorge, didn’t develop at all. Flair continues to be the skill we have the hardest time to improve.

Play games – The 2024 season

We won the State Championship for the first time in this save and also managed to take back the Série A title from Flamengo in a closely fought battle.

We were disappointing in both domestic and South American cups and were knocked out quite early on. This was probably both our misfortune and fortune since we could use all our best players consistently towards the end of the league. That is probably the single biggest reason why we won the league in the end, that we could rest our players between the important games.

When it comes to important performances Kaio Jorge had a bit of a revival, leading the lines with 29 goals. Behind him it was the usual suspects who scored. It’s a bit disappointing and troubling that no new players seem to step forward. Kaio Henrique and Pedro were the best of the rest, but with 8 goals per season it’ll take them 12 years to reach Europe…

Douglas Jardel and Fernando are at the bottom of the list, without games played this year. They are still considered part of the club and the challenge, but they both spent the entire season away on loan. I kept them at the bottom simply to not forget about them! They’ll return for next season, looking like better players than when they left.

On another note we’ve turned into a proper Brazilian powerhouse, which was highlighted by the fact we had 8 players participating in the 2024 Copa America.

This was another decent season where we got two more players past 100 goals, which was good. Now it’s quite a big step down to the next player. Let’s leave the season there and look at the players (yes, playerS that left for Europe).

Sell – The ship to Europe

As you’re well aware by now, I sold Renyer, but he wasn’t the only one to secure a move to Europe!

Talles Magno left as well, it wasn’t a real big money move, but we still managed to get him to a top 5 club in a top 5 league. Hopes are that he’ll play regularly and develop a bit further!

These two were not the only ones to leave. We also managed to offload three players signed by our chairman against my will. The departures of Vital, Rodriguez and Vera brought in almost £90M. Nice!

So, my prayers were answered as we managed to move both Talles Magno and Renyer on! Finally! This means that we have two players to track except for the players at the club, which I think will make things a little more dynamic.

These moves are also visible on the top 10 list of potential Neymars, where Marcos Leonardo retains the 1st position despite remaining in Brazil. He reached the 100 goals aim and has one of the highest Ginga Ratings, with his 82 rating. Behind him we have the European boys followed by Kaio Jorge, solely based on his 150+ goals. Behind these four no-one is really close, even though new Ginga Rating leader Gilberto looks promising! A couple of new players entered the list as well, and we hope that they manage to score a few goals next season as well!

Before I leave you I have two more things to show you!

I got offered the job as Brazil manager and of course I accepted! This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to shamelessly use my power to give international game time to my own players! The new manager made quite a few people raise their eyebrows as he gave Talles Magno his debut in the first international game against Uruguay and started untested trio Lucas Lourenco, Marcos Leonardo and Renyer up front in the second game against Peru. The young trio thanked for the confidence shown by scoring five goals between them, which made the fans happy as well! I’ll continue to use the national team as a chance to strategically give international playing time to “my players”, but I still have to manage the high expectations of the Brazilian FA, or I’ll lose the job. Hopefully I’ll manage this balancing act, which will give a lot of experience to several of my young players.

Finally, we also got news of a much needed new stadium, nearly doubling our capacity. If we are going to keep our positions as a Brazilian powerhouse a decent arena is a must, and this is one step in the right direction. The only thing negative about this is that it will be another four years until we move in.

To summarise things an awful lot happened in this episode. I’m the new Brazil manager and I won enough domestic trophies to keep the Santos job. We’re getting a new stadium, which is needed since I spent all our money on bringing in two players from Europe. Most importantly though, we managed to send two players the other way, one to Spain and one to Italy. Now we have an exciting group of talents to follow, together with two players on the other side of the pond. I hope you’ll join me in the next episode where we’ll look at what happens in the 2025 season. See you soon!

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