Santástico – Ep 14: 2026 – Personality and development

The seasons are quickly passing by, and we are creating players full of Ginga on a veritable conveyor belt out of the Santos FC Academy. However, we are not really close to creating a true Brazilian superstar, a player with potential to reach legend status. We are getting closer though, and I think it’s just a matter of time before we manage to hit that jackpot! We are getting the biggest attacking talents into the club and I believe we are on the right track when it comes to training. So, like I said, it’s only a matter of time…

Preparing for the 2026 season

I went into the 2026 season feeling pretty confident about our squad. Both quality and depth wise we had a squad good enough to compete for titles both in Brazil and South America. I’ve spent several years successively upgrading our “back 7”, which is our backbone. These are the players that must do their job good enough so that the players further up the pitch can really shine!

These seven players are either really talented or full-fledged world class players in their position. A couple of them are getting quite old, but they have quality to last at least this season.

In front of them is where things get interesting. I have two “front fours” filled with talents. The first four consists of the four players that I have the most faith in at the moment, with super star Gilberto spearheading the attack in his quest for 100 goals. If he reaches that aim this he’ll be the 4th player who reaches it in this series and it’ll also make him eligible for a move to Europe.

Our second four consists of younger more unproven players and will mostly play games of lesser importance. They will get plenty of game time though, and I hope at least a couple of them reach 10+ goals.

This was just to give you an idea of my approach going into the season. Let’s move on to what we usually start off with, our new players.

Youth intake

The youth intake preview felt a bit underwhelming. No real mention of the intake quality overall, but at least a couple of decent prospects in the positions we’re looking for. Well, we’ll simply have to wait for the actual intake until we know what we actually have to deal with.

This looks quite promising! A five star prospect, check! In the right position, check! HoYD Sebastian Pait even suggests that this new talent might become the best player of his generation! Yes! This is exactly what we’re after! Let’s not get too carried away though, we’ve been fooled by these overview pages before! Let’s look at the actual players before we pop that champagne!

Richard Pracidelli Ginga Rating 64

This wasn’t too bad! Richard Pracidelli is 15 years old, which gives us plenty of time to develop his Ginga Rating of 64 (6th best 15-year-old so far). What is more encouraging is his Model Citizen personality! I don’t think our overhaul had anything to do with this, I blame pure luck.

The rest of the intake only had one more player with a decent Ginga Rating and this was also the only other player with a positive personality.

Alex Jardins Ginga Rating 61

Alex Jardin‘s Ginga Rating of 61 only makes him our 20th best 16-year-old, 5.2 Ginga Rating points below the mean, which makes me less than hopeful that he’ll develop into a world class player. However, he’s good enough to keep and I’ll give him a chance!

Other players in

In addition to the two players brought in through our intake, we signed another 8 youngsters, making this batch one of the largest so far. Common denominators for this group are that they are not fantastic Ginga wise, but their personalities are better than average!

Romário is the youngster with the highest Ginga Rating (73), making him joint 8th best among 17-year-olds so far. Marcos Leonardo is still Ginga Rating leader among 17-year-olds with 79.

Player development

We’ve added a decent amount of younger players, which shows in the overview below. Back are the green number, which is basically down to this being a batch with a lower average age than for the last couple of seasons.

All players aged 18 or younger had good to great seasons (Eudi being the awful exception) when it came to development. Our first Model Citizen in the youth setup, Juninho, certainly led the way with a 59 total point increase, the third best overall increase in a single season so far.

He wasn’t the only one though. Six players made it onto a list of the 15 best developments so far, which is nothing short of exceptional.

Most of the players on this list are 18 years old at the most, playing and training with the U20s. There’s one big advantage to keeping them in the U20s, and that is the simple fact that there are a lot less games, which gives them more time to train! The one exception on this list is also the player that I find the most interesting.

In the season that saw him go from 19 to 20 years old, Guiba increased his Ginga Rating by 3, which is good. However, he managed a total 38 point attribute increase, which is nothing short of spectacular for a 20-year-old.

This is by far the best development we’ve seen so far from a 20-year-old! When you look at the top 5 in this category, the personalities stand out to me. They’re not exceptional, there are no Model Citizens or Perfectionists on the list, but all five players on the list have positive personalities.

If we look at this from a slightly broader perspective, is this still a thing? I know that personality plays a part in the development of players, but how big? That the development is biggest in young players is common knowledge, so if I simply create a list sorted by best development over a season it’ll mainly consist of players aged 18 or younger. However, I’m not only interested in development up to age 18. Most players seem to develop fairly well until then. No, I want to see investigate the development from 18 to 21, a stage where some players continue to develop while others completely come to a halt. Is this purely down to CA getting close to PA, or might personality play a part here as well? To investigate this, I look at the individual total point increases per season and compare it to an age weighted mean, to include older players. This is basically a measure of how good the player’s development is compared to all other players of the same age. The list below includes at least a few more players older than 18:

This list reflects what was shown in our top5 of the 20-year-olds. Mostly positive personalities, with our only Model Citizen Juninho reaching a 2nd place on this list straight away.

When looking at the total number of seasons I have tracked per personality type, the picture becomes less clear. Balanced is by far our most common personality type, but it’s impossible to examine. A Balanced personality type basically only means that the player’s set of mostly hidden attributes doesn’t fall into any other personality type. The players with Balanced personality has developed slightly worse than the age weighted mean. The second most common personality types for us so far are Fairly Determined (Determination 15-17 and Professionalism 1-15) and Fairly Professional (Professionalism 15-17 + Temperament 11-20 OR Professionalism 18-20 + Temperament 1-10), which doesn’t say anything about a player’s Ambition. They are both displaying slightly better than the age weighted mean, which was pretty much expected. Light-hearted is the 4th personalty type where we have data on more than ten players. This personality type doesn’t say anything about Ambition either, and for Determination and Professionalism it means values between 1 and 18. The Light-hearted players have performed worse than the mean.

We don’t have enough data on the rest of the personality types to come to any real conclusions, but the early signs follow logic, with positive results for Model Citizen, Driven and Resilient and negative results for Unambitious. We’ll come back to this in the future, when we have some more data.

Let’s get back to this season’s results. With many players performing well in training the feeling was that this was a good season development wise. Let’s see if the numbers support this notion:

Above you see the mean total attribute point increases per age in total on the left and this year on the right. The 15-to-16 and the 20-to-21 groups only consisted of one player each, which makes them hard to compare to the total mean, but if we look at the big picture this was certainly a better year than the average! The simple explanation to this is that we had more players in our U20 team performing above par, which gave us a higher mean than usual. I hope that this is also a result of our change in training a few seasons ago, where we now train both harder and more focused on Ginga skills than before.

I’ll show you one player before we move on, and that’s our best performer Juninho.

Juninho came in through last season’s youth intake as our first Model Citizen (Determination 14-20, Ambition 12-20, Professionalism 15-20) yet, and he certainly hit the ground running. With an 11 point increase in Ginga Rating (including +2 in Flair!) and a total attribute point increase of 59 points he set a new bar for the rest of the Academy players to reach!

Let’s leave player development now and look at the 2026 season, even though there’s actually not that much to like about it.

The 2026 season

Despite me going into the 2026 season with high hopes it ended as a huge disappointment.

We managed to win the State Championship, but except for that we were poor.

We weren’t even close to challenge Grêmio for the Série A title and were humiliated by Flamengo in the semi final of the Copa Libertadores. Well, apparently it was still enough to keep the job since I’m still here, which is basically all that matters. So, how did the players perform?

As predicted, Gilberto was our big star with 35 goals, which put him past the 100 goal mark. Congrats! Behind him no-one really stepped forward. Once again we’re in a position where no-one is really close to reaching the 100 goal aim, but the only way to get there is to keep playing games!

Players in Europe

We are following 4 players that have made the move across the water to Europe. Three of them couldn’t help their teams to more than decent league finishes, while one of them actually won the league! Renyer‘s Real Madrid got a sweet revenge for last season’s bottle job by winning La Liga in comfortable fashion, which ticks off another box in the challenge to reach the heights of true Brazilian greats!

Despite quite modest league finishes (except for Renyer), all four players had good seasons reaching 10+ goals and 7+ average ratings (6.99 for Talles Magno).

No new sales were made that fit in with the challenge, so these are the four that we’ll continue to follow. The four were close to becoming a trio when Hertha accepted a £55M bid from Flamengo for Marcos Leonardo. I stepped in and put a stop to that nonsense though by offering them $60M and then pulling out of the deal at the very last minute. I didn’t force him away, creating a revolt among both players and fans, to have him return a year later to a fierce rival for 5 times what I sold him for. No, you’re staying in Europe, Marcos!

The Next Neymar/Pélé

We’ll end this episode in the usual fashion, by looking at how far our players, both the ones in Europe and those still in Brazil, have come on their journey towards becoming the next Brazilian superstar.

There wasn’t a lot of movement in our top 10 this year. It was pleasing to see both Renyer and Talles Magno improve their Ginga Rating slightly, and with Renyer winning the La Liga title cemented his spot in the top of this list. Gilberto reached 100 goals, but he will need to secure a move to Europe to challenge Marcos Leonardo for the 2nd place. Talles Magno and Kaio Jorge remain 4th and 5th mostly because the rest of the players in our squad are too far away at the moment. I don’t think they’ll improve much more though, which means that they’ll start slipping on this list sooner or later. I would really like to have a serious contender rise up this list but no-one is really close at the moment. Maybe one of our young Model Citizens will be the one? The only way to find out is to keep reading! I’ll be back shortly with the 2027 season. See you soon!

Complete gallery of players for the interested soul:

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