Santástico – Ep 15: 2027 – In with the new and in with the old

After a couple of seasons with not much happening after the initial group of players reached 100 goals and secured subsequent moves to Europe, we got Gilberto to 100+ goals in the last season. We’ll get back to him later in this post, but what was even more important was that we had a great year training/development wise. Did we keep building on this in 2027? Keep reading to find out!

We’ll start this post off with the most exciting yearly happening, the youth intake.

2027 youth intake

The youth intake preview looked quite promising:

An excellent group coming through!? Well, thank you! With an attacking mid, a winger and at least one striker coming through as the best prospects in what appeared to be a good intake I felt confident as we reached mid-September.

At first glance (this is actually the second glance, I’ll explain that soon) this seemed like a good intake with the top four players of the right positions. One five star potential player and two more with 3.5-4 star potential. Not bad. I was a bit surprised to see the name Luan Jefferson at the top of the list though, and before you ask why, I’ll explain!

I’ve been trying a bit of streaming in the last few weeks and I was over the moon when I got Willian through the 2027 youth intake live on stream as the best youth intake player ever! I went to bed with a big grin on my face and spent the night dreaming of Brazilian boys (stop that, you know what I mean!) but when I went to start the game up the next day the latest save file wasn’t there. I’m not sure what actually happened, if the file went corrupt during the saving process or something else, but the save file (and Willian) was nowhere to be found. I had no other option but to load the backup file which sent me to a point roughly one month before the above mentioned intake had happened and my disappointment was endless. I was about to kill this save and throw my desktop out the window, when several community members told me that I’d get the same intake again since they don’t actually generate on intake day on FM20. Apparently they generate at the time of the intake preview, which got my hopes up that I was going to be reunited with Willian when the intake day arrived again. That’s why I was a bit surprised when I saw the name Luan Jefferson as the “best” prospect. The name “Willian” was there in the list as well, but considering how good he was in the original intake and the assertions that we were getting “the same” intake again, why wasn’t he top of the list? Perhaps Luan Jefferson was even better? Let’s find out!

When I clicked his name I was actually a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Luan Jefferson is a decent player with a Ginga Rating of 66, but he is nowhere near the levels of Willian from the previous intake. When I clicked the name of 4 star potential new Willian my disappointment turned into pure joy though.

There he was! Not exactly the same, but still an absolutely amazing player! I think that this Willian 2.0 is actually slightly better than the previous one, at least when it comes to Ginga Rating (74). With a Model Citizen personality this might actually be the player that gets closest to the Ginga Rating and career of Neymar! I have not had these levels of expectations for any player in the previous eight seasons of this save. This might actually be the guy!

And then there was Jorge, and he looks ok (Ginga Rating 62) as well, but I can’t get Willian 2.0 out of my mind. What a player. WHAT A PLAYER!

All in all this must be considered a great intake. Three players coming in with one of them looking like the next Brazilian boy wonder!

We also brought in a few other players, but all of them fell into the shadow of Willian 2.0.

Other players coming in

Three youngsters were found good enough to be signed for the challenge. None of them really stand out though, so I’ll just present them with their pictures and Ginga Ratings below:

Ginga Rating 67
Ginga Rating 68
Ginga Rating 62

Not the most exciting young signings. However, we made one quite exciting signing, but he is anything but young.

We finally brought Neymar back home to Santos FC! He finally joined us on a free transfer and after chasing him for 6 years the arrival was a bittersweet one. I’m glad to have him home, mostly for narrative’s sake, however we get him way past his prime. He is still amazing technically and mentally, but the massive decline to his physical attributes makes him almost useless on the pitch. His obvious lack of speed means that we can’t use him as a winger or an attacker and his weak defending makes him a liability in central midfield. That only leaves the AM spot, where I hope he’ll at least do a decent job. Getting him in at age 35, for me it’s not primarily about using him in games though. With 100+ games already for the club, a Perfectionist personality and a place near the top of the player hierarchy Neymar might be the player that finally gives my mentoring efforts a boost! He looks like a potentially great mentor and I hope that this will rub off on as many young players as possible before he retires!

There certainly are a great number of potential youngsters to learn from Neymar, just look below!

Player development

Following last season’s great training results, hopes were high for something similar. We didn’t get something similar though, we got something even better!

2027 development

Another excellent year development wise. Four of our older players struggled, but on the other end of the spectrum several players excelled in training!

Top 10 total attribute point increases

Three players made it onto the All-time Top 10, with Vinicius Rodrigo beating Cesinha‘s massive development from 2021 by 4 points!

I don’t know what’s more impressive, his 72 attribute point improvement or him gaining 9kgs over a year! Either way, they are both amazing accomplishments!

Richard Pracidelli, last season’s most promising intake player, certainly hit the ground running! His 66 point total increase is the third highest ever and puts him on a 77 Ginga Rating. Hopefully his Model Citizen personality will secure further development in the coming seasons!

Average increase per age and Ginga skill
Total improvement per age compared to age-weighted mean

When looking at this season’s mean total improvement per age it becomes clear that this is a good year. Every age except for the players who turned 20 performed better than the mean.

I think the reasons behind this record breaking season in player development are several. One is most likely the changes I’ve made to training. Another one might be that one year has passed since I signed ten (10) new members for the U20 coaching staff, all of them Model Citizens or Perfectionists. During this first year I’ve not noticed any significant effect on personality changes in the U20 squad or youth intake, but I wasn’t expecting that either. All the coaches have studied for exactly one (1) coaching badge each and as a result they’ve all improved. Below there’s a table of their progression this year:

As you can see there’s been some pretty decent improvements, even though they all started from a pretty low level attributes wise. One of them now have the National B badge, six coaches have the National A badge, two have the Continental C and our U20 manager Pepe has the Continental A badge. He is also the person with the smallest increase to his attributes by far.  Three attributes didn’t change at all; Working with Youngsters, Adaptability and Level of Discipline. The rest of them increased more than I thought and a couple of the guys are actually turning into pretty decent coaches!

With club legend Neymar returning home as the perfect mentor, training resulting in amazing development and a squad filled to the brim with exciting talents, the future is certainly looking bright! Let’s not get too far ahead thoug, let’s quickly look at what actually happened in the 2027 season first, but as you’ll soon notice there is a good reason why I’m already talking about the future.

The 2027 season

The main reason is that we weren’t that great. Results were good enough for me to keep my job, but not much more than that. We finished 2nd in the league behind Grêmio, but won the State championship for the 4th year in a row. We got knocked out by Flamengo in the Copa Lib for the 2nd time in a row. This time in the final after extra time. So, despite being fairly close to winning a treble, the season ended in disappointment.

So, how did the players do?

They did ok. Pretty much on par with the team. No-one really stood out, but we had six players with 10+ goals. The attentive reader might have noticed that a name is missing on the list above, and that’s absolutely right. The reason for him missing is this:

Gilberto has boarded a ship for Europe, Benfica in Portugal to be more exact. A good move for him to a Thomas Tuchel managed Benfica wih a fairly strong squad on paper. He’ll be their attacking number one with the support of strong players around him. I doubt that he’ll improve his Ginga Rating by five to reach that 90 point mark, but he has the potential to become our best player yet. Renyer at Real Madrid has had the best career so far, but Gilberto might surpass him.

His departure leaves the squad with no player above 50 goals though, which means that we’ll most likely have a couple of seasons without any players leaving for Europe. For that reason I’ll skip the usual list of the most promising players and instead return with a 10 year summary after the 2028 season.

I’ll return shortly with the 2028 season summary. Until then, take care!

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