Samo’s Stirling – The Circle of Transfers

For the last four or five seasons now I’ve taken you through a whole host of newgens coming into the club for relative peanuts, and for the last two seasons or so, you’ve seen some of them start to leave as our bank account reaps the benefits. Last season we brought £52m in to the club coffers from selling players, in season twelve we’ve absolutely smashed through that and then some.

From the first couple of seasons focusing on whoever we could get in on a free, to expanding our potential player pool to include the rest of the UK and Ireland to the last couple of seasons being able to attract some really promising young foreign talent, my approach has changed so much over the last twelve seasons. I’ll use the transfers that’ve happened, both incoming and outgoing, this season to go through how Stirling’s circle of transfers currently works. Let’s get to it.

Me parading a new player to the fans…

Identifying talent

Scouting

The task of identifying players lies solely with my scouts, with a little bit of guidance from me in terms of what countries they’re based in. Like I said already, we’ve come a long way in twelve seasons. From having one scout when I joined the club, we’ve now got a recruitment team of 20.

We’ve vastly improved the overall world knowledge at the club over the last few seasons, asking the board for more scouts at every opportunity to increase it further. You’ll notice I like to nickname them based on where their scouting assignment is, this is to give me a quick ad hoc report from a local scout on anyone who pops up at any point, whether it’s in the scouting meeting or players we play against.

In some cases, we’ve not been able to get the best scouts, but the knowledge they have of their country or region is what’s important (Kvarme and Perisic for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, for example). Each assignment is set up like below.

We have an embarrassingly large transfer budget of over £180m to spend, but I’ve got no intention of signing a player for over £5m, with our current highest fee paid still standing at the £2.5m we paid for Pat Buchan ahead of season 11. This limit might see us missing out on some quality youngsters, but I’ve been pretty happy with who we’ve been able to attract so far. The aim is bringing in young players with room to grow and for them to have the ability to be a sellable asset in the future. I don’t want any player recommendations coming back with players over the age of 22 and whose potential ability isn’t at least very good. Each assignment is set up to be ongoing. I’ve tried to cover most key countries and regions, but there’s still some work to do, with the next aims being specific scouts for some of the Eastern European countries.

The areas we’re missing out on are often picked up by the data analysts taking a random look through some of the ongoing competitions happening across the world. We’ll surely be able to have a little bit more control over them on FM19? Anyway, that’s how we picked up Cho Chang (not his actual name, but he’s a wing wizard. S/o to all the Potterheads).

They’d spotted him performing well for South Korea in their World Cup qualifying campaign. A quick general second glance from head scout, Michael Reschke, came back positive and thinking of the potential commercial benefits of this deal too, I snapped him up for £1m.

Signing

I think it’s the calibre and profile of player I’m specifically targeting, but as we’ve seen over the last few seasons, I’ve been able to bring in some absolute bargains who don’t seem to want much money in their wage demands. The markets we’re shopping in also helps on that.

Snapping up Lukas from Plzen in the Czech Republic comes with two plus points to keep in mind. Their league is a less reputable league than ours at the current time and his contract was close to running out. That’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on if you don’t already. A wonderkid for £70k is not to be sniffed at, and look at him being worth £7m without a ball even being kicked, just the 9900% increase in value. I wasn’t best pleased at him asking for £24k a week, which is at the higher end of our wage structure. I think this just shows how good he is though, already a wonderkid and so sure of himself. I’ve got a feeling he’ll make us a fair bit of money.

There’s a few things in life that are certain. One of those is the FM AI undervaluing players, so it’s important not to take your eye of the free transfer market as your save goes on, no matter how much money is in the bank.

When a player with the quality of Arias is offered to you during a meeting with your scouting team for free, it’s difficult not to instantly snap them up. He’d come through at Universidad Católica but was inexplicably released. His Chilean nationality, and a few good performances, should see us be able to shift him on for a big profit a few seasons down the line.

Remember my ill-fated spell in charge of Scotland? I try not to, but since I had him in my squads for the national team I’ve been keeping track of Johnny Britton’s movements down south. He left Partick Thistle for Chelsea in 2023, had the standard loan spells away before eventually getting released this summer and adding to our homegrown contingent on a freebie.

Developing talent

Minutes

Once they’ve arrived, similarly with keeping them happy, gametime is the biggest factor for me in whether a player will fulfill their potential. Sometimes it doesn’t take many minutes on the pitch to attract the vultures though.

After 21 goals in 23 appearances across the first half of the season, Crystal Palace bought Britton on deadline day for a potential £16m fee. He wasn’t the only outgoing striker who hadn’t featured much for us before us getting a good fee for them.

El Sayed had arrived from Ismaily for £210k during the 2026/27 season, but spent the season prior out on loan at Sevilla. When he arrived back, I had every intention of making him one of our first choice front two, especially after the departures of his countryman, Pharaoh, and Radovanovic last season. Unfortunately, I’d taken my eye off the ball and hadn’t noticed his contract was expiring in the summer of 2029. He then kicked up a fuss about wanting to leave for a bigger club and luckily Watford seemed to be desperate to get their man. We managed to squeeze £16m from them, rather than losing him on a free, I’ll take it.

Training

As part of the Strategy for Stirling I’ve been steadily improving the level of coaching our players get for it to be classed as elite, but the facilities haven’t followed suit yet (due to an anomaly where we shared training facilities with our affiliate, Stirling Uni, and with theirs being better we shared with them meaning I couldn’t request to improve ours).

Gametime plus training was important for developing Slobo Stankovic. His role as our flying winger plus his training regime as a winger saw his key attributes, pace, crossing and dribbling, fly up over a couple of seasons leading us to make a whopping profit on him.

I tend to pick the more broad roles usually when deciding on which training schedules to put players on, complete wing back and complete forward, for example. With Stankovic, and usually with players I find to be more limited in their ability, I decide to focus much more on what he was good at, rather than picking a wide midfielder training role and improving his general ability.

Loans

Sometimes the wheel is yet to turn and you don’t have enough room in your squad to fit that up and coming youngster in just yet. This was the case for Keaton Lockett a few seasons back. He joined from Bangor for £1k ahead of the 2023/24 season, but with #Rog and Hardie still firing on all cylinders at that stage of the save, his path to the first team was blocked. Off he went to fellow SPL side, Hamilton, and scored 12 goals across the season. Not bad for a 19-year-old in his first season playing at that level.

Fast forward past four seasons, 143 appearances and 82 goals, and the Englishman is off to play in the Premier League with Spurs for a deal potentially worth £25m for us. Reminder, he was signed for £1k. Ridiculous profit.

Homegrown

The circle of transfers doesn’t always necessarily have to include signing a player to replace another one. Remember those newgen youth players that come into your club every season? Some of them might just be worth developing and eventually ensuring they’re able to break into your first team squad. I’ve written before about how it can be a different skill altogether to judge the quality of your youth intake at times, but sometimes you get an absolute gem through.

The sales of Britton, Al Sayed and Lockett paved the way for East Kilbride-born but unfortunately now English, Martin Griffiths to step up and be properly involved with the first team squad this season. He’s been patiently waiting, scoring goals left, right and centre for the Futures plus occasionally getting involved with the first team too. He’s our youngest ever goalscorer, firing one in on his debut in the Scottish Cup aged 16 and he scored two league goals at the tail end of last season once we’d secured the league title. I’m sure you’ll hear a little bit more about him in the season twelve summary post.

Selling talent

Sit back

I don’t actively try and sell my top talent. I’m more than happy to keep them around the club if they want to stay. If a player wants to leave though, I won’t stand in their way. Everyone has a price in my squad. I just sit back and wait for the big clubs to come knocking.

We actually splashed £1.1m out on Gospavic from Crvena Zvezda at the beginning of the 2027/28 season. It’s not often we break the £1m barrier on bringing a player in, but he was hugely rated by our scouts. You can see why. His form across just a season and a half for us at left back persuaded Manchester United to part with a potential fee of £25m for him. I wasn’t worried, because the circle of transfers had been at work.

Alongside my young Scottish left back, Martin Ferguson, Guy Coulibaly would step up and be the replacement for Gospavic. Otto Addo, my African scout, absolutely loved him and my coaches rate him very highly too. I don’t think he’s anywhere near the player that Gospavic was, I’d like him to be a bit faster, but he’s more than good enough to come in and do a job for us at left back. Especially for just £500k from perennial Ivorian youth prospect creators, ASEC.

There really isn’t much you can do when Manchester City come in with a potential £32m bid for your first choice right back.

We’ll struggle to get better options in both full back slots for the rest of my time at the club I reckon and now they’re both plying their trade on opposite sides of Manchester. Villavicencio arrived from Sporting Cristal in Peru for £500k and is another massive plus point for that scouting process I took you through earlier. Igancio Arce, our South American scout, spotted him playing for the Peruvian national team (because scouts only bring back unprompted reports on players from actual matches they watch on FM18, a change from previous games, meaning it’s probably recommended to have as many leagues loaded as possible if you want to build a huge scouting network). Similarly to Gospavic, they arrived on the same day, his form after just a season and a half at the club attracted City’s attention. That happened late on deadline day. You can sit back and relax as a manager…

…But not too much

I hadn’t planned for losing Villavicencio this soon, and with my second choice right back out injured for a few months, I had work to do. It just proves you should always be prepared with either younger options ready to step in or a shortlist of options ready to make offers for. Our youth options at right back weren’t great, so I headed to my shortlist.

I think I panicked a little bit but I decided to take a chance on 20-year-old Sudanese right back, Mustafa. He was only £100k, so there’s little to lose there plus we do have that Scottish second choice right back returning to full fitness towards the end of the second half of the season. More forward planning needed at the back, which is something we’ll be rectifying in the coming months.

Thanks for reading!

Hopefully you enjoyed the run through of my thought process on transfers. Everyone plays the game differently, it’s highly likely none of this is brand new information for you but let me know if I’ve managed to get you making a little tweak to how you do things in your save.

These were my transfer dealings during season twelve of my save, overall we made an absolutely monstrous £136m from selling players this season. Huge figures for a Scottish football club, considering we spent under £2m, it’s not a bad way to operate. The post summarising how we got on across the season will be with you soon. In the meantime here’s a few other recommended reads to keep you going.

Morale Manager 2018

Medical Centre, Schmedical Centre

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5 thoughts on “Samo’s Stirling – The Circle of Transfers

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