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Santástico – Ep 11: 2025 – We are the Champions. Of the world.

After seeking some spiritual guidance and finding comfort in perspective in my last post, I’m back for the 2025 season with a rekindled love for the series. We might not be particularly close in our efforts to create the next Neymar or Pélé and we might never get there, but who the hell cares? There may never be another Neymar in real life either, and most certainly there will be no new Pélé. I’m really enjoying myself playing FM20 and we’ll just have to see where this series finally end up. I hope you’re ready for the 2025 season, because here it comes!

The youth intake

When the intake preview news item came up I just saw plenty of yellow text and prepared myself for the usual disappointment. Then I saw it. The line of text every FM manager hopes and dreams for, this intake “has the potential to be a real golden generation for the club”. I know that this is in no way a guarantee for anything, but at least it makes it tingle in my tummy!

At least on paper the intake lived up to the expectations with three offensive players with 4.5+ potential. Except for them the intake was pretty underwhelming, but this outcome is much better than what we’re used to!

A high potential is not the same as a high Ginga Rating though! When it came to Ginga our new players were decent but not much more.

Altair Lima Ginga Rating 62

It’s his Flair of 19 that stands out, otherwise Altair Lima is not exceptional in any way, which is highlighted by his Ginga Rating of 62 reaching only 34th place historically among 17-year-olds. The biggest upside is that the attributes he needs to improve are fairly easy to do so, at least compared to Flair.

Juninho Ginga Rating 55

With a Ginga Rating of 55 Juninho is the 2nd worse 17-year-old we’ve had at the club, only “beaten” by Ronaldo Love‘s Ginga Rating of 51 in 2019. He is 13.5 points shy of the mean in this age group, which makes hopes of him turning into a great player fairly small. He does have a Model Citizen personality and a Determination of 18 to help him, but I doubt that’ll be enough.

Luís Carlos Ginga Rating 67

A Ginga Rating of 67 in the year you turn 16 is enough to reach a joint 13th place in this age group historically, 2 points above the mean of 65.02. So, Luís Carlos is slightly better than the average player Ginga wise, but I hope that his Determination of 20 and Driven personality will help him improve nicely!

Signings – both young and old

I was fairly happy with the squad going into the 2025 season, except for one position. We let our right back Madson go after many years of service and were therefore in desperate need to find a new one. As a right back in our system you need to be decent defensively but really solid going forward. Khellven from newly relegated Athletico Paranaense seems like a good fit for us from that perspective.

After half a season of excellent performances from our left back Edegar who I signed in 2023, basically all the big European clubs had expressed an interest in him. I therefore felt the need to bring in a possible replacement.

While Corinthians were fighting off the interest from Real Madrid, turning down bid after bid, I quietly stepped in and met Eduardo Valverde’s domestic release clause of £24M (thank you Brazilian mandatory domestic release clause rules). He looks really promising, even though he needs to work on his offensive skills. Now I’m really set in the left back position and I’ll still be competitive even if Edegar leaves for Europe.

I know that this is not a signing, but I didn’t know where to put it as I didn’t think it really fit under the “Sell” heading either, where I want to present the players in our challenge that leave for Europe. Gabriel Jesus left though, and for a decent amount of money as well. It was a pleasure having him in the squad, but I felt that I couldn’t deny him another European adventure and the chance to win the hearts of the people of Manchester.

Let’s leave all the old guy signings now, and look at a couple of exciting young prospects coming in!

Eudi had been the focus for several of our scouts for over a year, but he simply hadn’t been interested in joining us. Not until on his 17th birthday that is, when he had a sudden change of heart.

Eudi Ginga Rating 74

He’s a bit on the smallish side, but so is that Messi guy and he seems to have done alright!? With a very well-rounded distribution of his Ginga skills (14-14-14-16-16) he looks like an excellent prospect if he can continue to develop. The only potential issue is the fairly low Flair of 14.

This was the only five star signing, but I’ve started a bit of an experiment when signing 15- and 16-year-olds. I’ve previously restricted myself to only sign the players that fit the scouting filter but also had a potential ability of at least 4.5 stars. This made the number of potential players fairly small, and I missed out on plenty of kids with high Ginga Rating. Therefore I’m gonna ignore the potential ability altogether when signing players with the highest Ginga Rating, just to see how far I can get these players. I’ll list their PAs here just for fun so I can compare it to the “finished product”. The first player signed for this experiment is Ytalo José.

Ytalo José Ginga Rating 69 PA3.5

The “all important but oh so difficult to improve” Flair is high in this one. Excellent! The rest of the Ginga skills are at least decent (12+), which makes Ytalo José an exciting addition to the youth squad!

Ailton José Ginga Rating 72 PA2.5

The second player brought in as an experimental player is one year older, but has a higher total Ginga Rating and an excellent Flair (19). If Ailton José will have one or two outstanding seasons training wise he could become really exciting. If we are going to make a prediction based on PA though, this is not likely to happen. But let’s not be negative. Look at that Flair instead. Look at it!

We’ll track these two player’s development, and hopefully more players to come, and compare them with the players of higher PA to see how big the difference in development is over several seasons.

With three players coming through the youth intake, combined with five star signing Eudi and our two experimental signings, we had a total of six new players coming in during the 2025 season. Both Eudi and Ytalo José came in during the first half of 2025, so I included them in the player development summary below, while the other four will have to wait for their first assessment until next year.

Player development

Ok, isn’t there an awful lot of red in the column for “total changes”? Yes, unfortunately there is. Only three players, all of them in the U19 squad, managed 30+ point increases, with a whooping eleven players not even reaching the 10 point mark.

When looking at Ginga, things look less grim though. Compared to last season our group of talents is older, but developed only slightly less.

After a dive into the massive “Santos spreadsheet” I came out on the other side with a scatter plot showing the correlation between starting Ginga Rating at the beginning of the year (x axis) and increase/decrease in Ginga Rating at the end of the year (y axis). The different colours/ages are:

15 to 16: red
16 to 17: orange
17 to 18: yellow
18 to 19: green
19 to 20: blue
20 to 21: purple

As you can see the trend is fairly easy to spot. A low Ginga Rating at the start of the year is correlated with a high Ginga Rating increase during the year. Perhaps not that surprising and I’m not even sure if it’s the negative correlation between age and development that we’re seeing or if it’s actually a negative correlation between starting Ginga Rating and Ginga Rating increase. Probably a bit of both! This is at least a trend that shows in this season’s training results. I don’t see any real need to change training, since the players keep developing in general, even though I would have appreciated even more development of course.

Despite pretty average increases, we do have several reasons to be happy. The first one is the fact that a player is actually closing in on the magical 90 Ginga Rating aim in Gilberto.

An increase in Agility and one in Flair (his fourth so far!) means that Gilberto‘s Ginga Rating is now 87, only three points short of our aim! At 21 our scouts believe that he is fairly close to reaching his potential, but it would be absolutely awesome if we could squeeze out another three points from him in coming years! No matter what happens he is our Ginga Rating record holder by quite a margin, though!

The other two players we’ll look closer at are the two best performers on the training pitch. First off is Ytalo José.

Do you remember Ytalo José? No? He came in early this season as one of two experimental players with a fairly high Ginga Rating but with a low scouting recommendation. He hit the ground running in a serious attempt to prove our scouts wrong and I’m liking what I see! After a solid 7 point increase to his Ginga Rating, he is our 5th best 17-year-old so far, only three points behind Marcos Leonardo and two points behind current Ginga Rating record holder Gilberto. Let’s keep showing them, Ytalo!

The second player to show some great development is last season’s only player to survive the yout intake, Guiba.

Despite coming through our intake at the late age of 18, which I expressed worries about, he had a great season development wise. With increases to every Ginga skill he landed on a total Ginga Rating increase of 7 points as well. With this he is only our 15th best 19-year-old though, coming in just shy of the 74.28 mean. Still a very nice development though!

These were the three players that received a little special attention, but as usual you can find screenshots of every player at the end of the post if you’re interested.

Playing games – home and away

We start with Douglas Jardel who has been on fire away on loan at Cagliari! He finished the season as the 2nd best goalscorer in the Serie A for a Cagliari that fought a relegation battle for most of the season. I can’t wait for him to get back and replicate this for us!

Roma won the Serie A title ahead of Lazio and Juventus.

In the Lazio squad, we find the former Santos player Talles Magno.

He didn’t develop attributes wise but had a good first season in Serie A.

He scored almost one goal every other game in Serie A and also managed 3 goals in 4 Champions League games. A respectable first season in Italy!

In Spain Barcelona passed Real Madrid to win the La Liga title in the very last game week.

Renyer missed out on his first trophy in Europe by a single point, but he was not to blame.

He played well when he got the chance, which is highlighted by 17 goals and 9 assists in 25 starts.

Even though Renyer certainly had a good first season with Real Madrid he hasn’t managed to become manager Julián Grau‘s no1 option out on the right wing.

23-year-old American star William Wight came in for £117M from Chelsea in the 2025 January transfer window and started most games after that. After the bottle job in the league, Julián Grau was fired, and I hope that the new manager favours Renyer ahead of Wight!

Now that we’ve looked at basically every other team in the world, what about us? Well, we’re only the best team in the world!

After beating Club América and Bayern Munich in the group stage, we beat Man Utd, Flamengo and Man City in the knockout games to win the FIFA Club World Cup trophy. Man City manager Jürgen Klopp (!) certainly wasn’t happy after their 1-4 defeat to a Brazilian team they had counted on walking over. I know what you’re thinking. You won the Mickey Mouse trophy, so what? Well, that’s an opinion of the FIFA Club World Cup that is exclusive to Europe. The rest of the world, with South America in the forefront holds the FIFA World Cup in the highest regard, and considers it to be exactly that. The absolute best way to determine what team that’s the best one in the world. And now we know, it’s us! We get to taste this sweet taste of success for another four years now, since the tournament is only played every four years!

We also copied the amazing feat of the 1962 “Os Santásticos” by winning the treble! A really great season that also saw us join a truly great list of (exclusively European) clubs as the 7th most reputable club in the world!

This is both good and bad for us. It makes it easier for us to attract the players that we want, but it makes it harder for us to get our players to Europe. With this high reputation our players basically only accept to leave for clubs on the list above. I have the Portuguese and Dutch leagues loaded together with the five big ones, but I might remove them since our players aren’t even interested in joining Ajax or Benfica…This isn’t really something to whine about though, I simply have to develop players good enough to get the big dragons interested! Or do what I did below to sell the two players this season, but I’d rather not. I understand that you’re curious to see who left, but you’ll get there really soon. First, have a look at our player performances.

Gilberto really took a step forward on the pitch this season, ending up our top goalscorer with 27 goals. Another 6 players reached 10+ goals, even though most of these players are miles away from our 100 goal aim. The new Brazil manager (me) gave both Marcos Leonardo and Gilberto a few caps, which will hopefully provide valuable experience and act as a shopping window!

Players out

I had to unsettle them both, force them away from the club and sell them dirt cheap, but I finally did it! Kaio Jorge and Marcos Leonardo are now in Europe! They needed to move on, both for their own sake but also to make room for new players to get the chance to shine!

Kaio Jorge left for Sporting Lisbon, currently 6th in the Portuguese top division and Marcos Leonardo for middle-of-the-table Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin. It’s not exactly Real Madrid, but at least it’s Europe!

As you can see, the fans didn’t love the business, but I felt that I didn’t have a choice. I felt like I was standing in the way of Marcos Leonardo‘s development and that Kaio Jorge was standing in the way of everyone else’s.

Except bringing in a bit of cash and freeing up spots in our squad these moves has a bit of an impact on our top list as well.

The yearly “Top ten”

After a good first season with Real Madrid, Renyer finally climbs to the no1 spot on this list. The difference in playing for Real Madrid and Hertha Berlin is too big for Marcos Leonardo to keep the first spot. With Talles Magno‘s lack of development and Kaio Jorge‘s move to Sporting, Gilberto passes them after a strong season with Santos. He is the undisputed Ginga Rating leader and may very well reach the 100 goal aim next season! Behind the top 5 we have Douglas Jardel who will return after a great season in Italy and Pedro, who is already at 22 goals despite his young age. The rest of the list is made up of Brandão, Alécio and Eudi, neither of them really close to reaching any of the aims of the challenge!

With some key players leaving I hope that others will step forward for us to have a second generation of player leaving for Europe in a few years. In Europe it would be awesome if Renyer could take another step towards becoming a world class player. Make sure you join me for the next episode where I go through the 2026 season, a season where several of our players will take part in an effort to retain the World Cup title! See you soon!

All players:

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