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FM24 - Athletic Club (Bilbao) - Loyalty and Long Term Saves!


bowieinspace
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Welcome to FM24 with Athletic Club!

 

As always, myself and others grind away at making the Basque giants the best team in Europe, but why Athletic?:

1) A club steeped in history, with a passionate fan base and community focus
2) Athletic is a 'big club', with a new stadium housing over 50,000, good resources and an elected by the members style leadership model.
3) We're not La Real...suckers
3) From an FM point of view, Athletic has a unique policy. You can ONLY sign Basque players. This creates a fun challenge, akin to a youth academy challenge but with the ability to sign from a small pool of Basque players to fill gaps when necessary, and effectively poach youngsters from a handful of other academies (e.g. La Real (Sociedad), Osasuna, Alaves, Eibar etc). So Athletic is basically a youth academy challenge, plus a bit extra. As one of the bigger clubs in Spain, competing for Europe and titles is a regular occurance on an Athletic save, however dominating Europe and winning Champions Leagues is always a challenge due to the smaller player pool. If you're looking for something like a youth academy challenge, where you compete with the best with limited player options and challenge for glory but ultimately find challenges to sustain it year on year, this could be the save for you.

In this thread, we'll start off with guides to a range elements, such as squad planning, transfers and the youth academy to help get you started, and you'll see updates from others managing Athletic. But first, let's start with some history.

 

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ATHLETIC CLUB HISTORY

Athletic de Bilbao, historically, are the third most successful football club in Spain. As well as being one of only three clubs never relegated from the top division of La Liga – there are no prizes for knowing the other two – they are also third in the number of titles won over the years. Sadly for their supporters the last title was won some years ago, however Athletic have had recent success winning the Supercopa in 2020-21, and have had near misses in the Copa Del Rey.

Most football followers know about the long-standing Basque only policy of Athletic, which has been the subject of much debate, but I suspect that fewer are aware of the benefit that this concentration on home-grown players has had to the Spanish national squad. Athletic Bilbao has had more players representing Spain than any other Spanish club – including Real Madrid and Barcelona. The club has continued its tradition of signing players born in the Basque provinces of Spain or France, although in the late 1980s this was broadened to include players who had moved to the region at a young age.

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Athletic Bilbao Football Club - Founded in 1898 by a group of students from the Gymnasium Zamacois – who adopted the English spelling because they had studied in England – Athletic Bilbao merged with Bilbao Football Club, consisting of mainly ex miners from the north-east of England and shipyard workers from Portsmouth and Southampton, in 1902. After calling themselves Club Vizcaya for a season they reverted to the name Athletic Club de Bilbao in 1903. After playing in blue and white stripes for a few seasons, in 1910 they changed to the red and white they still play in today – the possible reasons for this can be found in the Atlético Madrid article, as the two clubs shared founders and have entwined early histories.

During the early years, the club was immediately successful, frequently winning the Copa del Rey title. The star player of the time is still remembered in Spanish football today as the leading scorer each year is known as the ‘Pichichi’, which is named after the Athletic player who once scored a hat-trick in a Cup Final.

The appointment of English coach Fred Pentland, El Bombín (the Bowler Hat) led to even more success. A great coaching innovator, who was also in charge of Atlético Madrid and the Spanish national team, Pentland was an early advocate of the style that became known in England, much later, as ‘push and run’ when introduced by Arthur Rowe with Tottenham Hotspur. He was not the only English manager employed by the club; in later years, Ronnie Allen and Howard Kendall also coached here. Their choices of headgear, though, went unrecorded! It is, however, known that Kendall found it so frustrating being unable to buy the players he wanted that it was cited as his major reason for leaving the club.

Under Pentland’s stewardship, Athletic won the League – of which the team were founder members in 1928 – and the cup on several occasions, doing the ‘double’ in both 1930 and 1931. In the second of these remarkable seasons, Barcelona were beaten by 12 goals to 1 in Bilbao – a result which is never likely to be repeated.

All of the games in Bilbao were played at the club’s present stadium, San Mamés, named after a nearby church. This has led to the stadium being known as ‘The Cathedral’, although the atmosphere – especially when Real Madrid are in town – can hardly be compared with one! As well as being known as the ‘Rojiblancos’ because of their colours the team is also referred to as ‘Los Leones’ (the lions) as St Mames himself was an early Christian that the lions had refused to kill.

There was a period when the club had to change its name to Atlético Bilbao, as a result of a decision by Franco to outlaw non-Spanish names and languages. During the 1950s, however, the government’s severe restrictions on foreign-born players in the league greatly helped the Basque club who won several league and cup titles in this time and, in 1956, entered the then-named European Cup for the first time. The club’s successes all helped give the Basque people a sense of identity at a time when they felt very isolated in Spain. There was a famous incident in December 1975, just 15 days after the death of Franco, in which Iribar and Kortabarria, rival captains of Athletic and Real Sociedad, carried the Basque flag – illegal at the time – onto the pitch before a local derby.

 

RECENT SUCCESS

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Bilbao finished up their 2013-14 campaign with a fourth place finish and shot to secure Champion's League football, which they did with a victory over Napoli. Unfortunately Bilbao fell short, finishing third in their group behind both Shakhtar and FC Porto then later were knocked out of the EURO by Serie A side Torino. Bilbao managed to make it to the finals of the Copa del Ray as well, but once again fell short with a 3-1 loss to Barcelona. The club were able to get redemption however, with the ageless Artiz Aduriz scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory against Barcelona in the 2015-2016 Super Cup and also capturing a draw at Camp Nou later in the season. Aduriz ended his resurgent 2015-2016 season with 36 goals in all competitions and getting a call of to the Spain national team for Euro 2016. The club secured a spot in the EURO with a fifth place finish in the 2015-2016 season thanks to not only contributions from Aduriz, but also from some of their more promising first team youth players. 

In 2016-17 the club enjoyed another consistent season coached by Ernesto Valverde, finishing 7th in the league and requalifying for the Europa League (3rd qualifying round) for 2017-18. Heralded as a potential winner of the Europa League in 2016-17, the club lost in the round of 32 to Apoel Nicosia in a surprising result. Following the 2016-17 season, coach Ernesto Valverde moved on to Barcelona after a successful spell at the club. Athletic made the decision to promote Kuko Ziganda from the B team to take control of the first team squad, but sadly this didn't work out and he was removed from his position at the end of the 2017-18 season. In 2018-19, the club moved to appoint Eduardo Berizzo to the helm alongside his backroom team. Berizzo has previously enjoyed a successful spell at Celta and a mixed spell at Sevilla previously, and is well known for his pressing style. Unfortunately Berizzo's style led to some promising football but poor results - ultimately he was removed and replaced by Gaizka Garitano. Garitano had been leading the B team - he brought about improved solidarity defensively in comparison to the leaky football seen under Berizzo, and led the team through impressive form for the remainder of the season, finishing just outside of the European qualification places.

The 2019-20 season started in glorious fashion, when Aduriz scored a sensational last minute scissor kick to defeat Barcelona at the San Mames. That was unfortunately as good as it got. Despite the season being interrupted by COVID-19, Athletic Club remained in European contention for most of the season, only for a poor run of form to derail them once the season resumed. Athletic Club finished a disappointing 11th, although they were only 5pts behind arch-rivals Real Sociedad, who finished 6th. Athletic Club and Real Sociedad both reached the Copa Del Rey final, the first Basque derby final ever. Held in April 2021, a disappointing performance saw Real Sociedad lift the trophy.

The 2020-21 season was another underwhelming year. Athletic Club finished in 10th, but with fewer points than the previous season, and a long way off the European places. They reached the Copa Del Rey final once more, but were hammered 4-0 by Barcelona. The pattern from the last few years is familiar now. Solid in defence but passive in attack. Alex Berenguer was the top  scorer in La Liga with a mere eight goals. The good news was the emergence of young players like Sancet, Vencedor and Morcillo. 

The 2021-22 season continued with the management of Marcelinho, and while it shows signs of improvement inconsistency regularly reared it's head. Athletic eventually finished 8th, narrowly missing out on the European places, with further frustration as losing finalists in the Supercopa, and a semi final exit to Valencia in the Copa Del Rey. This led to Marcelinho's tenure as manager ending at the completion of the season. 

For the 2022-23 season, former manager Ernesto Valverde rejoined the club - a man who had brought good success and consistent European competition to Athletic in his previous spell. The 2022-23 season was a solid one for Athletic, however narrowly missing out on European football means you can focus on the league and cup only in your first season.

 

RIVALRIES

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The largest one in Spain sees you facing Real Sociedad in a Basque derby. Other rivalries are with another Basque teams Eibar, Alaves and Osasuna and also competitive rivalries with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Osasuna and Sociedad in particular are also the other main producers of Basque players, but good luck signing any of them. It's exceedingly difficult to pry players from one club to the other, which is how intense the rivalry is. When playing as Athletic, you can expect to sign players on the odd occasion from these clubs, and it gets easier if you're able to build a solid difference in reputation between the sides, however even at that stage, some players will refuse the move. This is something of an unexpected challenge to many newcomers to managing Athletic, in that the majority of Basque players capable of improving the team do not want to join.

 

WHY ATHLETIC CLUB?

It's one of the more challenging saves in all of FM, because you are limited to signing only players with Basque heritage or players in Spain who are no older than 16 years old. It forces you to focus on utilizing what you have in the squad to the best of their ability and developing your youth and figuring out what you want the DNA of the club to be long term. This offers two different ways to play as Athletic Club:

1) Use the signing of Spanish U16 players to provide a wider base to pick from, or for an added challenge...
2) Only sign Basque players of any age, and do not sign any spanish U16 players unless they already hold Basque nationality. 

Athletic Club have one of the best youth setups in the game, so you can churn out prospects to replenish your first team and keep it home grown. You aren't buying any trophies here with a Tycoon. You need to have a strong handle on youth development and be ready to integrate those younger players into the side. 

 

EXPECTATIONS

 

Athletic has very high standards and expectations. During the first season the board and fan expectation is to qualify for the UEFA Europa League and then Champions League over the following years. This is achievable with the talent available if you manage well.

Edited by bowieinspace
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The Squad

 

When starting an Athletic save you're fortunate to have a well rounded squad for the first season, however some improvements can be made (we'll come to that later). Let's start by overviewing what is available to you on arrival

Media prediction - 7th
53,332 Capacity Stadium built in 2013
Superb facilities and good youth recruitment
Transfer Budget - 21million (GBP)
Squad Personality - Determined
Captain - Iker Muniain
Top Earner - Inaki Williams
Key Player - Inaki Williams
Top Prospect - Peio Huestamendia
 

According to your welcome screen, the above are a few basics you're given. It's quite noticeable immediately there's wage disparity within the squad, with a handful of players on huge contracts - quite a few of these are older players so the wage cap shouldn't be a huge issue in La Liga over the first couple of seasons as these players are phased out - again, we will come to this later.

Goalkeepers

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Athletic in recent years have had almost embarrassing riches in the GK position - long time servant Gorka Iraizoz was replaced by Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was then replaced by Unai Simon after Kepa's big money switch to Chelsea. In the end, it's a reasonable argument to suggest Athletic have ended up with the best of the bunch - Unai Simon is an extremely consistent and reliable goalkeeper, who is very well rounded, and is arguably the best player on the team overall (he's also Spain's current number 1). As back up, Julen Agirrezabala is a good prospect and can be a long term back up to Simon. I'd recommend finding opportunities to give him games, or you could consider loaning him out and bringing in another back up if you feel that's a better way for him to develop. 

 

Defenders

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A solid if not spectacular backline, with Dani Vivian as the key figure. 

Dani Vivian - at 24 he's the best defensive prospect for the longer term, with a perfectionist personality meaning he will have no issues reaching his potential. A natural first choice in defence.
Yeray - A very capable centre back who is also capable at covering the right back position in a pinch. Yeray is the obvious candidate to sit alongside Vivian in a back two. 
Unai Nunez - On loan at Celta Vigo, he's an excellent rotation option but there's an optional buy clause in his loan arrangement, so you'll have to wait and see on whether that gets triggered.
Peru Nolaskoain - A 4th choice back up option to be honest, ok if required but not one that you will be too worried about long term.
Aitor Paredes - A player who has been a regular in real life so far this season, he's had a bit of a boost in FM this year but still lags behind Yeray in FM terms, although with some potential to improve he may well come good - he's one you will want to rotate with Yeray to see how that potential plays out.

Imanol and Yuri - Your two left backs are at the opposite ends of the career spectrum. Imanol at 23 with room to develop is very capable and needs minutes, but Yuri is your first choice. Both are well suited to more attacking roles, but are quite well rounded. Yuri is 33 so doesn't have a lot of years left in him, so the left back position is an area you will want to look at for future recruitment.

Inigo Lekue and Oscar De Marcos - You have 2 right back options. De Marcos is an Athletic legend but at 34 he's not going to provide longevity. Inigo Lekue is a capable option but isn't going to be a world beater for you. Similarly to the left hand side, this is an area you'll need to look at the transfer market for fairly soon.

 

Central Midfield

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With a couple of solid young prospects, this is a strong area of the time, but will need some depth in the coming years.

Dani Garcia - Reliable and hard working, Dani Garcia is a great option to have in your squad as he can cover a few positions/roles. He is however 33 and in his final contracted year. You will likely not want to renew him however you could do this to provide a bit of depth for another year or so, depending on the terms he is after. Even if he declines slightly he won't let you down. 
Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta - A former Atheltic wonderkid returns! He was hampered by multiple ACL injuries but he's carved out a solid career, and is a candidate for a starting role for you in FM. If you like to play a double pivot with one holding player and one more play making type, he's a candidate for the latter spot.
Mikel Vesga - Another reliable option for your squad. Mikel Vesga is actually Valverde's first choice alongside Sancet in central midfield this season. He can play DM or a box to box type role, and at 30 has a few years left. 
Ander Herrera - The former Athletic player has returned after a loan spell last season and at 33 has plenty to offer. He's a good mentor also!
Oihan Sancet - One of your top younger players. Sancet can play a range of roles, either more attacking roles such as CMA or mezzala, box to box type roles or playmaker style roles. You can expect Sancet to be a staple of your midfield for years to come.
Unai Vencedor - He's fallen out of favour in real life with Valverde opting to loan him out to Eibar in the second tier. He's excellent still on FM so the loan with no recall option is a rough one. He will be a great addition to the squad for season two.
Benat Prados - A capable back up with potential to improve, so one who should get minutes!

 

Wide Players

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Jon Morcillo - While not the best player in your wide areas, he provides reliable back up and at 24 can do so for many years. On loan for year one, but could b a good rotation option on return.
Nico Williams - The standout of your wide players. At only 20 and already at first team level, Inaki's younger brother will be key to your save. Get his release clause upped immediately - do this on your first day. 
Iker Muniain - Legendary player for Athletic, current club captain, and certainly an Athletic lifer. Muniain has been playing first team football for Athletic since he was 16. A creative player who can operate either wide left (cutting in on his right), as a number 10 or as a central midfielder in a mezzala type role. Iker will be a key player for you for the first few seasons.
Alex Berenguer - Alex is a very capable player, best wide left but can play on the right also or in a central role such as a shadow striker. He can also play deeper on the flanks as a wing back should it suit your needs. He may not be a guaranteed starter for you, but should be one who features a lot.
Nico Serrano - An excellent prospect who starts on loan, he could be a great option for you long term.
Juan Artola - On loan, just keep an eye on his development. 

 

Forwards

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Raul Garcia - Absolute ****house. Raul Garcia will rough you up. At 36 he's definitely showing signs of his age and is in his final contract year. Can provide an option for you at striker, number 10 or even as a central midfielder. Valuable for year one but you will likely want to get his huge wage off the books at the end of the first season.
Asier Villalibre - Has found his footing somewhat now in La Liga and provides a hard working, reliable option at centre forward. He is however probably not one you'd want to rely on as your starting centre forward in years to come.
Inaki Williams - The man who never misses a game. Inaki is an excellent pacey forward. A hard worker too who can either play as a central forward in a pressing forward or advanced forward role, wide right as a winger or wide left as an inside forward. His versatility provides options for your system.
Gorka Guruzeta - A regular starter in real life and he's had a bit of a bump in FM this year, but ultimately still a back up player most likely with his attributes. 
Javi Marton - Not much going here, likely will not play for you.

Edited by bowieinspace
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RECRUITMENT AND TRANSFER OPTIONS

Tips for recruitment and scouting

I usually run with the following player filters saved on the player search screen, so I can quickly flick through the options important to me:

Filter 1: All Basque Players
Nationality IS Basque, and Realistic transfer equals unticked

Filter 2: Realistic Basque Players
Nationality IS Basque, and realistic transfer equals ticked (usually set to 'doubtful' interest or above)

Filter 3: All Basque Youth Players
Nationality IS Basque, and age is at most 17 (or 18 if you prefer), realistic transfer equals unticked

Filter 4: Realistic Basque Youth Players
Nationality IS Basque, and age is at most 17 (or 18 if you prefer), realistic transfer equals ticked

If you are keen to also recruit Spaniards of 16 years of age, you can just adjust the youth filters by adding "Nationality is Basque OR nationality is Spanish", Age is at most 16. That will allow you to see Spaniards who you could sign who would then gain Basque nationality later.


Youth Intake Day and the period immediately after

Make sure you immediately scout all youth players from Eibar, Real Sociedad, Osasuna, Alaves and any other Basque clubs who are doing well on the game. I then use the general player search screen to find anyone who has appeared at another club.

I look at a combination of star rating and attributes once the scout has 100% knowledge. Generally I won't pursue anyone with less than 2 gold star potential. Above that, 3 gold star or above potential I always sign, 2 or 2.5 I base it more on the attribute spread and my general feeling on the player (e.g. whether they look pretty good already and perhaps the scout is wrong, or whether they might fit a certain role and perform above their level later). If you are signing any Spanish 16 year old, you can probably be a bit more picky. 

Once I feel I may sign them but don't want to pull the trigger straight away (or can't), I add them to my shortlist and re-scout every month to see any changes in price/wage or ability. 


Scouting

A good scouting structure for Athletic Club can work as follows:

Scout 1 - Next opposition
Scout 2 - Scouting La Liga, any player age
Scout 3 - Scouting Segunda (Liga 123), any player age
Scout 4 - Scouting Segunda (Liga 123), under 19s only
Scout 5 - Scouting France nation, under 19s only (you could have another scout doing all ages here if you feel it necessary)
Scouts 6 and 7 - Scouting Segunda B (3rd tier), under 19s only

You can of course add a few extras, however I tend to find after the first couple of seasons any outliers (e.g. notable Basque players who have moved abroad) you know of anyway and can scout separately. This combined with the player search filters should mean you don't miss any potential talent. 

 

Top Basque Players Outside of Athletic/Potential Transfer Targets

 

High Reputation Players who may not be Achieveable (Age, salary or both)

Antoine Griezmann - High wage, 32 years old, it's probably not realistic to get him until his decline is quite substantial and then he may prove too expensive anyway. 
Cesar Azpilicueta - At Atletico also and on 150k per week at 33, probably a no.
Aymeric Laporte - Earning that Saudi cash. On 400k a week at 29 years old you're unlikely to see him anytime soon back in Bilbao.
Inigo Martinez - Left Athletic at the end of last season and went to Barcelona. At 32 on 150k per week it's probably worth keeping on eye on him, but central defence is not a high priority so unlikely one you'll focus on.

 

More Realistic/Reasonable Options

Given Athletic's squad is largely capable, you can get by for the first season. However Athletic have a decent transfer budget at the start of the game (21m), you can use the list below to look at some players who could offer good long term benefits.

I've categorised the below into 'Top Picks' who are worth looking at if you want to add a player early on in that role. You'll also find a 'Best overall but hard to get' category in some positions, summarising those who you definitely want to get, but may not be affordable initially.

Goalkeepers

Top Picks
Alvaro Fernandez - Probably the best keeper alternative who won't break the bank.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - On loan at Real Madrid, he's a good option but hard to see a scenario you'd need to bring him in.
Alex Remiro - former Athletic Club GK, who left a few seasons ago under a cloud. Expect the fans to riot if you signed him! Probably not worth it anyway given you have two great keepers already on the books.

Others
Sergio Herrera - the Osasuna goalkeeper has a manageable release fee (14m) and offers a good squad option - could be worth a look if for some reason you sell Simon, but otherwise probably a pass.
Aitor Fernandez, Oier Olazabal, Iago Herrerin and a few others provide squad options but probably not ones you would look at
Iker Alvarez - A rare commodity...a man with both Basque and Andorran nationality. A solid back up who would be a decent pick up at the right price.


Full Backs

Top Picks
Aihen Munoz (LB) - Solid left back and definitely worth considering if he becomes willing to join, and his roughly on a level with Yuri, but younger!
Andoni Gorosabal (RB) - Potentially the best right back option out there, but just signed for Alaves.
Alvaro Odriozola (RB) - Having moved to Real Sociedad it'll be hard to get him to join, but he's a classy operator who makes a great attacking right back.

Strong Picks
Javi Lopez (LB) - A young left back at Alaves. Looks to have good potential.

Other Options
Joseba Zaldua (RB) - A very capable right back who plays at a similar level to De Marcos. Worth keeping an eye on in case you are in need of someone in that role, but he's not getting any younger.
Martin Aguirregabiria (RB) - 26 year old right back. Worth scouting and keeping an eye on but may not be the best option out there.
Kevin Rodrigues (LB) - Attacking left back option at Adana (Turkish club). Not a world beater but very capable and could suit your system.
Jesus Areso (RB) - Attacking right back at Osasuna, could be a good replacement for De Marcos.
 


Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielders

Top Picks
Hugo Guillamon (CB/DM) - The Valencia player would be an excellent long term signing, however will come with a hefty transfer fee in the first window around the 20million mark.
Mikel Merino (CB/DM/CM) - Following his transfer to Real Sociedad and continued snub of Athletic, there will be some work to do to get this transfer done. Most realistic chance would be if he moved to another club first. A strong midfielder who would provide an excellent option though if available. Too expensive at the start of the game and has minimal interest in joining. Probably the best overall player within this section
Martin Zubimendi (DM/CM) - superb prospect at 24. If he becomes available, buy, buy, buy. Valued quite highly at Sociedad hence perhaps a touch unrealistic initially.

Strong Options
Jon Moncayola (DM/CM) - DLP at Osasuna. A young player with potential to be very solid indeed. Affordable within the first window and with quite a few ageing players in midfield, picking up Moncayola is a very prudent choice.
Benat Turrientes (DM/CM) - At Real Sociedad, so another one who will be tough to get, but worth monitoring closely.
David Garcia (DC) - the Osasuna CB has been recently capped by Spain, but at 29 and a valuation of around £20m, you'll probably find that Guillamon represents better value if you're in the market for that position.
Igor Zubeldia (DC/CM) - Solid deep lying playmaker type/centre back. Young player who can be a starter/rotation option if you're able to get him in. 


Other Options
Jon Pacheco (DC) - the Spanish under-21 defender will become surplus to requirements at Real Sociedad by the end of the first season, so would be an inexpensive fourth CB who can also play LB. 
Iker Munoz (DM/CM) - the Osasuna midfield has been capped at under-21 level, and would be cheaper (and younger) than Moncayola. 
Ander Guevara (DM) - A decent defensive midfielder who would provide competition for places
Luca Sangalli (CM) - A hard working, two footed box to box player. Definitely worth keeping an eye on as he can provide a good squad option.
Rodrigo Esteban (DC) - a young CB in the Logrones B team who would do a good job for your own B team, and could act as an emergency backup in the first team too. Will be cheap and wages are manageable. Driven personality too, so that would help your young players.
Pablo Ibanez (DC/DM/MC) - the Osasuna midfielder is just as comfortable in the back four, and would offer inexpensive depth for the first team squad.
Jon Guridi (DM/MC/AMC) - the former Real Sociedad midfielder is now at Alaves, but at 29, he might only be a short-term option if you have gaps in central midfield after the first season.
Aritz Aldasoro (DM/MC/AMC) - a young midfielder at Real Racing Club (Santander) in the Segunda Division, who might be a technically average footballer but his mental and physical stats are good. Resolute personality too. Maybe an option for your B team?


Central/Attacking Midfielders

Top Picks
Aimar Oroz (CM/AMLC) - The wizard of Oroz as he's been dubbed on this forum. Looks excellent still in FM24, and even further developed. You can get him in the first window for his release clause of 28 million, and he is worth the money for a long term investment.
Jon Julen Guerrero (CM/AMC) - just for the romance, you might want to bring Athletic Club legend Julen's son to the club. He's currently on loan to Roma (under 20s) and has some promising technical stats, but clearly needs to develop further. 
Mikel Oyarzabal (CM/AMLRC/CF) - An attacking midfielder with massive potential. Given Raul Garcia is ageing, if you were able to bring in Oyarzabal it would be a real coup as he could hold down that position for years. He should always be your number 1 target, but whether timing and luck mean he comes your way is an unknown. 
Ander Barrenetxea (AMLR) - A talented 21 year old winger, who already has wonderkid status. Has no interest in joining Athletic
Dani Rodriguez (MC/AMRLC) - the Barcelona youngster who was born in San Sebastian is again a player with huge potential and versatility. Should be available for a couple of million, and is likely to generate interest from big European clubs, so go early. 

Others
Unai Lopez (CM/AM) - Former Athletic player would add depth to midfield and provide good first team cover
Roberto Lopez (MC/AMLRC) - can play across the attacking midfield positions and at 23, has plenty of room to improve.
Roberto Torres (MC/AMC) - 33, but can play all across the midfield, with great technical attributes. A short term option, but a decent one.
Javi Martinez (MC/AMC) - no, not THAT Javi Martinez! There's another one at Osasuna who plays as an attacking midfielder. Worth scouting. Mainly in here for the name joke.
Ivan Martin (AMLRC) - At Girona. Can play as a CM and anywhere in the attacking midfield positions, so offers versatility and depth. 
Kike Barja (AML) - a young Osasuna winger who can play on both flanks. Probably more of a squad filler.
Martin Merquelanz (AML) - an AML option, no interest in joining Athletic.
Robert Navarro (AMLRC) - Attacking midfielder who could do well long term. Only recently signed a new deal at Sociedad so no interest initially - one to watch
Borja Sainz (AMLR) - Option at Norwich, worth a scout!
Alvaro Djalo (AMLR) - Pacey wide man at Braga.

 

Strikers

Top Pick
Jon Karrikaburu - a striker of good potential who has been excellent in previous fm iterations. Potentially useful but could be save dependent, worth scouting and comparing to your existing options

Others
Jon Bautista - Would offer another striker option, but isn't anything special.
 

Contracts

When you start the game, always check release clauses throughout the team. The last thing you want managing Athletic is not being aware a players release clause is within reach and losing them unexpectedly. Make sure the guys you definitely want to keep have prohibitive release clauses - or at least, you could live with selling them for the money it would take to prise them away. In the squad post above you can see all the release clauses on the right hand side. Be sure to review these as getting players poached can be a disaster for your save. There's probably around 3 or 4 that need to be upped immediately. 

When negotiating contracts, increase the clause to what you want it to be and lock it on the first negotiation. They'll ask for more wages but that's ok, you can't risk losing good players and finances aren't a big problem at Athletic. If you don't lock the higher clause, they may respond by locking a much lower value. Also consider locking in a three-year optional extension. Again, the wages requested will increase but if it's manageable, do it!

I'd recommend immediately renewing Nico Williams, Sancet and Vivian with extremely high clauses.
 

Salary Cap

DON'T FORGET TO CHECK YOUR SALARY CAP IN THE LA LIGA REGISTRATION SCREEN!

It's easy to go over without realising.

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BUILDING FROM THE BOTTOM UP

Athletic Club are a team built from within, their record of retaining their La Liga status despite only signing players from the local region is unrivalled anywhere in the world. In recent years since the world of big TV money began, with more players travelling overseas this in theory should have become a much tougher task for Athletic Club. Indeed Athletic have regularly lost big name players over recent years, such as Fernando Llorente, Ander Herrera, Javi Martinez and most recently, the pair of Kepa and Aymeric Laporte, but there has always been one thing to keep things together and bring year on year development….Lezama. 

Lezama is the club’s academy, and of the current first team squad most have come through Athletic Club’s own academy. Some players left to develop elsewhere before returning (that is a common theme at Athletic, e.g. Benat), and you should always write buy back clauses into player sales. Athletic’s focus on youth and confidence in their academy is so strong, they often turn down the opportunity to recruit other Basque talent to give their academy players a chance. Such a philosophy is a breath of fresh air in the modern footballing world, and one of the reasons I was attracted to Athletic Club on a personal level. In game, you do have the option of signing 16 year old Spaniards to help build a stronger academy. However the purist may prefer to avoid this, and only sign players of Basque nationality at any age – this is also a great way to make an Athletic save just a touch more difficult. It basically becomes a youth academy challenge, with just a few other clubs you’re likely to be able to pluck youngsters from (who normally won't sell to you).

 

Recruitment of youngsters

Be sure to keep a close eye on the academies of Osasuna and Real Sociedad. This is where the best Basque youngsters are most likely going to come through, however (especially with Sociedad) be prepared to be patient or pay over the odds as the rivalry is a fierce one and player loyalty runs deep in the region, or simply not be able to get them at all!

Fortunately, Athletic’s own academy can make the club largely self-sufficient. The structure of B teams and C teams in Football Manager has become more immersive and generally deeper over recent versions, meaning the reserve teams are a more viable way to develop young talent than they used to be.

 

The Current Crop

At the start of your save, Athletic’s youth players are split between Bilbao Athletic (B team) and Baskonia (C Team) and the under 19s team, so before making any squad changes it’s imperative you get to know the players in these teams. Some of them won’t make it, but a lot of them will provide good depth for the first teamt. One of the biggest things when managing Athletic Club if you're new to the team, is remembering that any player could become important....when managing Athletic, you need to be flexible, you'll need players with lower star ratings for depth, and you'll need to build a tactic around effective players sometimes who might not necessarily be the best in terms of star ratings.

 

Bilbao Athletic & CD Baskonia

A couple of seasons ago Bilbao Athletic played in the Segunda, a big step up from the 3rd tier. This was a great opportunity for these players to showcase their skills and challenge for a role in the first team. However the Segunda is a tough division of seasoned pros, and the young Bilbao Athletic team lacked the experience to challenge in the division and were relegated. Even with that, some youngsters really showed their quality and have earned their opportunities with the first team. Others have continued in the Segunda with loan moves or played for the B side again in the Segunda B. With the restructure of Spanish divisions, the B team start in the 4th tier of Spanish football, this is made up of a number of groups split by region - getting promotion in the first season is very achievable, in fact back to back promotions are very possible to reach the second tier.

Baskonia play outside of the playable leagues, and to be honest, in game I tend to use them as a dumping ground for those players who are realistically never going to contribute to the first team as their division is inactive. However at the start of the game the team has a number of potential first team talents worth keeping an eye on. I won't post specific screenshots of players as most (both B, C and under 19s) have a variable potential that could land anywhere within a set range, meaning the same player on one save could be a Segunda level player, while in the next save could be a solid La Liga prospect. It's down to you to keep an eye on these players and track their development - just because someone only has a 2 star potential, don't dump them.....loan them, get them games and the right training schedules, they may contribute in the future.

Please note, players will sometimes begin each save in different reserve teams and with different potential ratings, so don't take the below screenshots as gospel. I've not listed players below 3* potential just to save space.

The key players from Bilbao Athletic (B Team):

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B team talent in Fm24 isn't that strong. You can see a bit of potential here but no massive standouts - the best young players from previous years, such as Nico Serrano, Peru Nolaskoian, Nico Williams and Sancet have progressed in to the first team now. A few keeping an eye on here but no standout superstars. Unai Gomez (near the bottom of this list) has actually progressed into the first team squad in real life, so while underrated in this screenshot he may be a bit better in other saves.

 

The key players from Baskonia (C Team):

spacer.png

Peio Canales has some solid attributes, but Gaizka Alboniga-Menor is likely the one to watch out for as well on your own save. I've also seen Junior Bita and Aimar Vicandi become good in the past and they definitely have varying potential values, so keep a close eye on them!

 

The key players from the under 19s:

spacer.png

As always with variable potential, you've just gotta keep an eye on development and see who looks good in your game world. Historically there has been a few real standouts with high potential but this year talent seems a little drier in the youth teams, with decent depth but no one who is going to carry your team for a few years.

 

There two main ways you can play as Athletic, either buying up 16 year old Spaniards to hoard talent and make sure they gain Basque nationality, or working carefully with the Bilbao academy players and signing players from the region. You will find most people on this thread won't sign anyone unless they already have Basque nationality (e.g. no Spanish 16 year olds), but if you're looking for a slightly different experience with more wonderkids on offer, this is also a good way to play.

Either way, Lezama is an important part of Athletic Club and something that must be taken seriously. When you can only sign Basque players, developing strength in depth is much tougher than at other clubs. If a player is only 2-3 gold star potential, don’t discard them….work with them, develop their key attributes so they can effective first team players, and they may just surprise you. If you're playing as Athletic for the first time, and you're used to signing players based on star ratings to squad build, be prepared to change your approach...you'll need to utilise everyone!

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SQUAD BUILDING: LOOKING AHEAD

 

Now we've looked at the various prospects in the youth squads, the first team and potential transfer targets, let's take a look at the first team squad and potential moves to upgrade or sustain your team quality over the initial seasons using players within the database at game start (obviously regens can play a part as you get perhaps 2 years in as well!):

Goalkeeper
Starting options: with Unai Simon and Julen Agirrezabala, you are well set for the foreseeable future. You may wish to bring in a 3rd choice given higher injury rates to goalkeepers on FM24. 
Potential upgrades: Simon is the best basque keeper in the game, so there's no where to really go here, outside of improving your back up options.
Potential sideways moves:  You'll see a handful of options in the transfer post above - Alvaro Fernandez is perhaps the standout.
Youth team prospects: Aimar Penalver and Alex Padilla look worth keeping an eye on as back up options
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: Hard to look past your current first team options as the best possible choices.

 

Central Defenders
Starting options: with Yeray, Unai Nunez (out on loan), Dani Vivian, Nolaskoain and Aitor Paredes, you are again quite secure here and this area won't need any major overhauls any time soon. Although Celta have a optional buy clause, you can likely renew his contract just before the end of the season to eliminate the possibility of them taking up that option. He is a good option you'll want in your squad, likely allowing Nolaskoain or Paredes to move on.
Potential upgrades: Laporte is the main one for obvious reasons, but likely unobtainable. Robin Le Normand is probably an upgrade also but expensive and I doubt he will be gettable.
Sideways moves: Aritz Elustondo and Igor Zubeldia at Real Sociedad would be an ideal pickup should one of the above depart, and Hugo Guillamon can do a great job as a CB also. Elustondo I think you'll struggle to get in FM24, but Zubeldia may well become available after a year or two. Hugo Guillamon is achieveable within the first few windows for sure, as Valencia seem up for negotiation, but both him and Zubeldia could also be used more in the DM roles.
Youth team prospects: You don't have a huge number of options in your own ranks, but with your existing options this isn't a huge panic.
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: No changes are necessary really as you can get by with Vivian, Yeray, Nunez +1 unless you want to play 3 ATB. Guillamon and Zubeldia would both be excellent pick ups if needed, albeit potentially not in centre back roles.

 

Right Back
Starting options: with Oscar De Marcos and Inigo Lekue, again you are quite secure here for the first season, but it's an area of concern due to player age. De Marcos will decline and one season is all you will get from him, Lekue will last 2 seasons.
Potential upgrades: Alvaro Odriozola and Gorosabel - if you can get either you should, both are expensive and aren't interested in signing for Athletic, but if either become transfer listed you have to jump on them. 
Sideways moves: Joseba Zaldua and Ander Capa are both short term options. Jesus Areso is another who is a lot younger, but isn't that good of a player. Jon Aramburu at Sociedad is another to watch for development.
Youth team prospects: Hugo Rincon could provide depth for the first team if he develops.
Likely players in 1-2 Seasons: If you can sign Odriozola or Gorosabel they would give you more years of security in this position, the right back area is an issue after season one!

 

Left Back
Starting options: with Yuri and Imanol, this is an area that will require your attention fairly quickly, although again for the first season you are ok. Yuri is in his final year and on high wages - with decline imminent you may be able to make a sideways move in January and improve your wage budget.
Potential upgrades: There's not any specific upgrades on Yuri out there in terms of ability
Sideways moves: Kevin Rodrigues, Javi Lopez Aihen Munoz are worth your attention. Aihen Munoz and Javi Lopez I would recommend in particular - both are good options who will be able to slot in well, and both generally are available in the first season or two. Munoz is a likely transfer list candidate so definitely one to watch. 
Youth team prospects: Nothing much going here.
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: Yuri transitioning to either Munoz, Imanol or Javi Lopez as first choice, with one of the others as back up.

 

Central Midfield
Staring options: Athletic Club are well equipped for a DM and 2xCM system, or a 2xCM and an AMC tactic, or even two DM's, but some looming declines due to age are worth your attention (Dani Garcia, Herrera in particular, but Vesga/Ruiz de Galarreta will be declining before you know it!). Vesga and Dani Garcia are effective DMs, but Dani Garcia can also play well as a more orthodox CM - he probably has a season in him. Vencedor (loaned out for first season) can play the same role as Dani Garcia. Sancet is a more advanced CM, whilst Muniain can perform strongly as a more attack minded CM role. In addition you also have Ander Herrera who is an excellent season 1 option, and Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta - an excellent deep play maker. Benat Prados is a young option in the first team squad who needs game time.
Potential upgrades: Mikel Merino is the obvious one here, but he will be hard to get and may go elsewhere before you can get him. This may not be a bad thing if he goes to a huge club and can't get much game time, but to be honest with his high wages and age profile, he will be a tough one to get. Similarly Zubimendi will be a near impossible pick up given he's very highly valued at your rivals. The two worth strong consideration are Moncayola at Osasuna and Guillamon at Valencia - I think the latter is an upgrade, while Moncayola is perhaps more of a sideways move, but to be honest it's marginal with both and they'd be excellent long term pick ups, so I'm considering them both upgrades.
Sideways moves: There's a handful here - Benat Turrientes has potential so could even be an upgrade, while Iker Munoz, Ander Guevara, Zarraga or Guridi could be depth options
Youth team prospects: Peio Canales and Alboniga-Menor
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: Oihan Sancet and Vencedor are key ones. Vesga and Ruiz de Galarreta are both ones who you'll likely want to replace after maybe 1-2 seasons depending on the availability of replacements. After 2 seasons you're likely looking at Vencedor, Sancet, Guillamon and/or Moncayola, plus potential players like Canales or Alboniga Menor, development dependent. 

 

Attacking Midfield
Starting options: with Alex Berenguer, Iker Muniain and Nico Williams you are well set up with versatile attacking midfielders. Raul Garcia can do well for a season also, while Inaki is more of a striker but can also be deployed out wide. Sancet can also be used in a central attacking midfield role.
Potential upgrades: Mikel Oyarzabal is the major 'upgrade', but he will be very very hard to obtain, similarly Barrenetxea at Real Sociedad will be near impossible to get but would represent a superb addition (albeit not at the Oyarzabal level)
Sideways moves: Aimar Oroz is certainly not better than Muniain initially, and he's got a hefty price tag, but provides an excellent option for the long term. There's a handful of others such as Roberto Lopez, Robert Navarro and Ivan Martin who could be good within a year. Dani Rodriguez from Barcelona is the other basque talent that you want on your radar as he can definitely contribute to the first team and is often cheap in year one.
Youth team prospects: Nico Serrano needs a year or two but should be at least a good rotation/back up option for you. Jon Julen Guerrero looks good again this year and is worth scouting also to add to your youth ranks.
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: you're likely to keep your current attacking midfield options besides Raul Garcia and work on finding a route for Serrano into the first team. Aimar Oroz and Dani Rodriguez are the other ones you want to add. 

 

Strikers
Starting options: This has historically been the most difficult area in recent years for Athletic. This year Inaki Williams is more of a striker than a winger which is good, and Villalibre is a stable back up but probably won't ever set the league alight. Guruzeta is Athletic's main central striker in real life but is underwhelming in game - he may get boosted in January if we're lucky. Raul Garcia can do a job in year one also.
Potential upgrades: There's no one out there, unless Griezmann is transfer listed! 
Sideways moves: Jon Bautista is very sideways...
Youth team prospects: slim pickings within your own ranks. It's worth getting Jon Karikkaburu straight away if he looks good on your save to give you an option coming through.
Likely players in 1-2 seasons: You'll need to make something work with Williams and Villalibre, or sign Karrikaburu. Other options are thin on the ground. Pray for good regens!!

 

Overall the main area to focus on transfer wise in the short term are both full back spots, a long term central defensive midfield option and long term attacking midfield options. The full backs are a clear area of ongoing concern - you can likely solve the left back area fairly inexpensively, while right back may require a bit of investment. In central midfield adding Guillamon or Moncayola would be good both short and long term, as would longer term additions like Aimar Oroz and Dani Rodriguez for the attacking areas.

 

Edited by bowieinspace
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  • bowieinspace changed the title to FM24 - Athletic Club (Bilbao) - Loyalty and Long Term Saves!

Thanks for creating the thread @bowieinspace and looking forward to some good discussions this year!

With the potential signings, a few other players I'd flag:

David Garcia (DC), the Osasuna CB has been recently capped by Spain, but at 29 and a valuation of around £20m, you'll probably find that Guillamon represents better value if you're in the market for that position.

Rodrigo Esteban (DC), a young CB in the Logrones B team who would do a good job for your own B team, and could act as an emergency backup in the first team too. Will be cheap and wages are manageable. Driven personality too, so that would help your young players.

Jon Pacheco (DC), the Spanish under-21 defender will become surplus to requirements at Real Sociedad by the end of the first season, so would be an inexpensive fourth CB who can also play LB. 

Iker Munoz (DM/CM), the Osasuna midfield has been capped at under-21 level, and would be cheaper (and younger) than Moncayola. 

Pablo Ibanez (DC/DM/MC), the Osasuna midfielder is just as comfortable in the back four, and would offer inexpensive depth for the first team squad.

Jon Guridi (DM/MC/AMC), the former Real Sociedad midfielder is now at Alaves, but at 29, he might only be a short-term option if you have gaps in central midfield after the first season.

Aritz Aldasoro (DM/MC/AMC), a young midfielder at Real Racing Club (Santander) in the Segunda Division, who might be a technically average footballer but his mental and physical stats are good. Resolute personality too. Maybe an option for your B team?

Unai Lopez (DM/MC/AMC) and Inigo Vicente (ML, AMLC, ST) might be two former Athletic Club players that you consider re-signing for squad depth.

Dani Rodriguez (MC/AMRLC), the Barcelona youngster who was born in San Sebastian is again a player with huge potential and versatility. Should be available for a couple of million, and is likely to generate interest from big European clubs, so go early. 

 

Edited by dothestrand
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2 minutes ago, dothestrand said:

Thanks for creating the thread @bowieinspace and looking forward to some good discussions this year!

With the potential signings, a few other players I'd flag:

David Garcia (DC), the Osasuna CB has been recently capped by Spain, but at 29 and a valuation of around £20m, you'll probably find that Guillamon represents better value if you're in the market for that position.

Rodrigo Esteban (DC), a young CB in the Logrones B team who would do a good job for your own B team, and could act as an emergency backup in the first team too. Will be cheap and wages are manageable. Driven personality too, so that would help your young players.

Jon Pacheco (DC), the Spanish under-21 defender will become surplus to requirements at Real Sociedad by the end of the first season, so would be an inexpensive fourth CB who can also play LB. 

Iker Munoz (DM/CM), the Osasuna midfield has been capped at under-21 level, and would be cheaper (and younger) than Moncayola. 

Jon Guridi (DM/MC/AMC), the former Real Sociedad midfielder is now at Alaves, but at 29, he might only be a short-term option if you have gaps in central midfield after the first season.

Aritz Aldasoro (DM/MC/AMC), a young midfielder at Real Racing Club (Santander) in the Segunda Division, who might be a technically average footballer but his mental and physical stats are good. Resolute personality too. Maybe an option for your B team?

Unai Lopez (DM/MC/AMC) and Inigo Vicente (ML, AMLC, ST) might be two former Athletic Club players that you consider re-signing for squad depth.

Dani Rodriguez (MC/AMRLC), the Barcelona youngster who was born in San Sebastian is again a player with huge potential and versatility. Should be available for a couple of million, and is likely to generate interest from big European clubs, so go early. 

 

Thanks mate, I ripped through that section pretty quickly and need additions like this, will add them in today.

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Also, definitely lock in Nico's release clause for way higher than the 92m I did, because Chelsea activated it (and you can't really replace him because Aimar, who does have a bump, would cost around the same by the end of the first season). Good job this is just a test save :lol:

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If you fire up the French leagues, there is a winger with Portuguese and Basque second nationality named Marvin de Lima. Starts with 1.5* ability but with 4* potential. Only likely to cost in the region of 1m.

Bordeaux also have a RB from Bayonne, Johaneko Louis-Jean in the process of moving to Lugo. He's 19, can play RB and LB, and may have potential.

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6 hours ago, lingardinho_ said:

is it easier to sign 16 year olds this year than last year?

Same as last year

 

 

13 hours ago, skybluedave said:

Vencedor valued at around £120mill and on loan in the Segunda is pretty sad for an Athletic save :(

Yeah he just totally stagnates. Still ok but a whole year of possible development lost

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I never managed Athletic but have wondered if there was a default search filter that only showed players meeting club philosophy. From what you've written I guess there isn't.

If you set scouting assignments chosen by the AI will they still scout worthless (not Basque) regions/comps?

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13 minutes ago, kingjericho said:

I never managed Athletic but have wondered if there was a default search filter that only showed players meeting club philosophy. From what you've written I guess there isn't.

If you set scouting assignments chosen by the AI will they still scout worthless (not Basque) regions/comps?

Not a default one, but I made search filters for FM23 that should still work.

Will update these when I get ‘24 once it hits gamepass as well

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20 minutes ago, kingjericho said:

I never managed Athletic but have wondered if there was a default search filter that only showed players meeting club philosophy. From what you've written I guess there isn't.

If you set scouting assignments chosen by the AI will they still scout worthless (not Basque) regions/comps?

When managing Athletic you have a Basque nationality filter on your player search, so you use that to filter out players who are not eligible, it's very straight forward.

Scouting assignments also will only show reports for players who are eligible to play for Athletic, if you scout Germany but there are no Basque players there, you'll just get no reports.

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First Season Review, and a Successful one!

 

I know what you're thinking - why hasn't he done the rest of the bloody guide? Well sorry, Jeremy, I'll get to it ok? I've got a team to manage!

Just like last year the FM beta dropped perfectly in time for a long weekend for me, so I heavily invested myself and ripped through a season in double quick time - fortunately mostly via habit :D

 

La Liga - 3rd place, 81 Points
Copa Del Rey - Winners!!

A bit of first season silverware is lovely, and we did it via the Copa Del Rey with a final win over Barcelona 1-0. We also had a very solid league campaign, in a title fight for most of the season before quality told and Real Madrid ran away with the league finishing on 89 points. That sees us nicely into the Champions League for 24/25.

 

Transfers and Squad Building

With a fairly decent 21million GBP budget for the first window, we had some room to manouvre - I went back and forth over what to do here and indentified Aimar Oroz as my primary target as he would be a superb long term signing. The challenge was his release clause of 28million and a lack of value in the squad to sell. I just about squeezed it through by selling Guruzeta, Nolaskoain and Dani Garcia for a total of around 7million - it was very tight to make the deal work but we just about got there. I then renewed the contracts of Nico Williams, Dani Vivian and Oihan Sancet to get their release clauses super high. It left us a touch small on the squad size, but with no European games I was comfortable.

Pro tip - you can renew Yuri, Ander Herrera and Raul Garcia's contracts without extending the duration and get them onto a lower wage, you just have to offer an automatic one year renewal after x amount of games. This gave me a bit more wiggle room in the budget. 

Aimar was an excellent addition and is looking like he will be a staple for years to come. 

When January rolled around I decided to offload Raul Garcia for a nominal fee to Saudi, and then I also received a decent offer for Yuri (who by this point was contracted until 2025) again from Saudi. This allowed me to pivot out of the excellent, but ageing Yuri to the younger Aihen Munoz, who by January became available via transfer list for a mere 2.1million. Aihen Munoz was also an excellent pick up and played very well down the stretch. I also added Dani Rodriguez from Barcelona for depth in attacking midfield for just 375k.

I felt a bit light in certain areas and was concerned about the work that would be required come the summer to upgrade for a European campaign, given a typically small second season budget and need for quality in the squad. The summer of 2024 saw the departures of Ander Herrera and Oscar de Marcos on free transfers, alongside Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta leaving for 5million. Losing De Marcos, Ander Herrera and then previously Yuri and Raul Garcia saw decent reductions to the wage budget which gave me some more room to move. Starting with an initial 11million budget, cranking excess wage budget across plus the 5million from Ruiz de Galarreta I was able to get up to around 17 million in the pot. The return of Vencedor and Unai Nunez added valuable depth so I was able to focus my attention on improvements. I wanted a right back but Gorosabel and Odriozola were not available, so time to get creative there, and the sale of Ruiz de Galarreta allowed me to get to either Moncayola or Guillamon.

GK - Simon, Agirrezabala, Alvaro Fernandez
RB - Berenguer (yes I am a mad man, but it makes a bit more sense with my system which you'll see later), Lekue
LB - Munoz, Imanol
CB - Vivian, Yeray, Unai Nunez, Paredes
DM - Vesga, Vencedor, Prados, Guillamon (plus Alboniga-Menor)
CM - Sancet, Aimar, Muniain, Rodriguez (plus Julen Jon Guerrero)
CF - Inaki and Nico Williams, Villalibre, Serrano

Hugo Guillamon was my selection for defensive midifeld! I wanted someone who could also cover CB and he's also arguably better. The big advantage also was that Valencia were open to negotiation so I got the deal done for 17.5million (10 up front, 7.5 over 36 months), with a further 3.5 in potential add ons, while Moncayola was release clause only. I then added Julen Jon Guerrero as a prospect for a very small fee of 1million, plus Alvaro Fernandez as a 3rd choice keeper. 

OMG for the love of god have 3 keepers in your squad. I had two period during the season of multiple weeks where Simon and Agirrezabala were both injured.

That left me with a very healthy squad for 24/25 - a good core with some youngsters on the fringes to add depth. My major concern is a bit of a lack of strength in depth up front (Villalibre is solid but Serrano on my game is not good at all - if I could sign another striker I would). If Inaki/Nico get injured my plan is to rely on Sancet/Muniain or even Berenguer to slot into my front line.

 

Tactics

My theme for this year is that players need to work around me and not vice versa. 

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This type of box formation is my favourite on FM so I wanted to get into it with Athletic, usually I play something like this on other saves I dabble with and focus on suiting the players with my Athletic tactic. I am really excited by FM this year having the position play elements, as it's made some tactics like this a lot easier to build. The goal here is to have a narrow box 4-2-2-2 out of possession, protecting the middle of the pitch and making us difficult to play through, we then play with a high line/high press as the forwards and mezzalas will press high and create an initial block, before we retreat as needed. In transition it's a quick punch type system, where we use a counter to exploit the pace of the two forwards with the mezzalas supporting them. In slower build ups we're aiming for 3 at the base with the half back forming a back 3, then the wing backs creating the width, DLP pulling the strings and recycling. I'd ideally have a second person sitting alongside the DLP to form a 3-2-5 in possession, and while there's no static person who does this, often I find the wing backs provide a wider option or the supporting mezzala will do this (i've not felt like we're getting exposed via that gap so it hasn't been a concern yet, but one I will watch as the game is updated as I'm conscious of it. In attack the two mezzalas will get into the half spaces and this causes a back 4 all sorts of issues, leaves a lot of space on the wings and the wing backs profit from that. The standard mentality makes a big difference in terms of protecting the back line also - for example the right wing back only has a balanced mentality and the left back is positive, so they're not hyper attacking, similarly the supporting mezzala is only balanced also.

I have a second tactic using an IFB on the right to form a 3 ATB in possession, with the half back in a DM role instead, they achieve partly the same things, but I prefer both full backs creating the width as it causes a better situation in the final third. This second option provides a more defined 3-2 rest defence for stability, but less thrust in attack. 

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47 minutes ago, BlueMikeyP said:

Worth checking if Alvaro Djalo has basque as a second nationality. I read that Athletic were looking at him in real life this summer… he’s Malcolm Adu Ares’ cousin

He definitely does. He's available for around the 15m mark, so it's a bit of a squeeze first season if you prioritise other players/positions.

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These were the guys who were missing Basque 2nd nationality in FM23

If someone can look at them in early access and note who still doesn't have Basque as a 2nd nationality, I can post it in the bug forum so we hopefully have everyone fixed on the full game release day.

Just check the spoiler tags below and post who doesn't still have it, and I can then enter a bug ticket to get them added.

 City/Club Fixes

Spoiler
City Larrabetzu No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Lesaka No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Oyón
Local region listed as La Rioja, but should be in País Vasco (it's in Alava province irl) and people born there should get Basque 2nd nationality (this does not currently happen for newgens from here)
Club Oyonesa
Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Oyón (which is in Alava province not La Rioja)
Club Beti Kozkor Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Lekunberri (Navarra)
Club Amorebieta B
Listed as a B club for both Amorebieta (correct) and Tarazona (incorrect) which means it shares backroom staff with both? I can't find a link between Amorebieta B and Tarazona in real life,, should be just a B club for Amorebieta

 

Spanish Player Fixes

Spoiler
ID Name Details
2000116049 Unai Uberuaga Regulez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Amorebeita, País Vasco)
2000115306 Alejandro Lafuente Ventura Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Azagra, Navarra)
2000122512 Unai Buján Díez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Barakaldo, País Vasco)
2000125367 Aitzol González Corrales Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191366 Gonzalo Alfaro García del Cerro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000202105 Erlantz Cubillo Marín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000122541 Julen Rodríguez Castro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191847 Elijah Gift Izobodo John Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000211676 Jaime García Navascués Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000111013 Jaime Vallejo Mellado Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000125423 Aitor Pérez Marco Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000125386 Guzmán Sanz Serrano Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Fontellas, Navarra)
2000046853 Odei Martin Sorondo Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Irún, País Vasco)
51078655 Samuel Goñi Villava Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Marcilla, Navarra)
67126235 Alberto Flores Santamaría
Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Oyón, La Rioja) [Oyón is actually in País Vasco province but is wrongly attributed to La Rioja in game]
2000120560 Iñaki Alonso Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121516 Aitor Equiza Hervás Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67193147 Cristian Gilés Sánchez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000116067 Izan Lecumberri Iturbide Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121927 Javier Martínez de Eulate Gradín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67105016 Sergio Murugarren Salvador Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000100132 Christian Mutilva Razquin Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000159044 Iván Rubio Arriezu Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67222322 Santiago Samanés Bonito Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121920 Daniel Sancho Macaya Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000125387 Xabier Sola Arre Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000120981 Tasio Villacampa Apesteguía Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67293074 Jesús Sayés Chueca Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Peralta, Navarra)
2000122516 Jon Elorza Roy Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000124846 Julen Olasagasti Imizcoz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000132927 Ayoub Goudani El-Baraka Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121909 Jon de Luis Suescun Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121488 Pablo Martínez de Eulate Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Zizur Mayor, Navarra)
2000143515 Diego Almazan Moctezuma Should be Mexican, not Spanish. Was born in Salvatierra, Mexico. Not Salvatierra, Spain
49036981 Thomas Perchaud City of Birth should be Pau, France not Tolosa, Spain
83227951 Álvaro Djaló Dias Fernandes Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (raised in Bilbao, País Vasco), played for Basque club SD Begona in youth, has been on Athletic Bilbao's radar

 

French Player Fixes

Spoiler
ID Name Details
50038318 Mickael Berthelot Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
2000030867 Lucas de Ataíde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
85052244 Rémi Elissalde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)
85080719 Pierre Maubaret Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Saint-Palais, has played for only French Basque teams)
85080717 Jérôme Muthular Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)

 

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21 hours ago, southside_hitmen said:

These were the guys who were missing Basque 2nd nationality in FM23

If someone can look at them in early access and note who still doesn't have Basque as a 2nd nationality, I can post it in the bug forum so we hopefully have everyone fixed on the full game release day.

Just check the spoiler tags below and post who doesn't still have it, and I can then enter a bug ticket to get them added.

 City/Club Fixes

  Hide contents
City Larrabetzu No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Lesaka No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Oyón
Local region listed as La Rioja, but should be in País Vasco (it's in Alava province irl) and people born there should get Basque 2nd nationality (this does not currently happen for newgens from here)
Club Oyonesa
Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Oyón (which is in Alava province not La Rioja)
Club Beti Kozkor Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Lekunberri (Navarra)
Club Amorebieta B
Listed as a B club for both Amorebieta (correct) and Tarazona (incorrect) which means it shares backroom staff with both? I can't find a link between Amorebieta B and Tarazona in real life,, should be just a B club for Amorebieta

 

Spanish Player Fixes

  Reveal hidden contents
ID Name Details
2000116049 Unai Uberuaga Regulez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Amorebeita, País Vasco)
2000115306 Alejandro Lafuente Ventura Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Azagra, Navarra)
2000122512 Unai Buján Díez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Barakaldo, País Vasco)
2000125367 Aitzol González Corrales Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191366 Gonzalo Alfaro García del Cerro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000202105 Erlantz Cubillo Marín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000122541 Julen Rodríguez Castro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191847 Elijah Gift Izobodo John Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000211676 Jaime García Navascués Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000111013 Jaime Vallejo Mellado Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000125423 Aitor Pérez Marco Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000125386 Guzmán Sanz Serrano Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Fontellas, Navarra)
2000046853 Odei Martin Sorondo Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Irún, País Vasco)
51078655 Samuel Goñi Villava Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Marcilla, Navarra)
67126235 Alberto Flores Santamaría
Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Oyón, La Rioja) [Oyón is actually in País Vasco province but is wrongly attributed to La Rioja in game]
2000120560 Iñaki Alonso Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121516 Aitor Equiza Hervás Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67193147 Cristian Gilés Sánchez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000116067 Izan Lecumberri Iturbide Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121927 Javier Martínez de Eulate Gradín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67105016 Sergio Murugarren Salvador Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000100132 Christian Mutilva Razquin Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000159044 Iván Rubio Arriezu Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67222322 Santiago Samanés Bonito Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121920 Daniel Sancho Macaya Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000125387 Xabier Sola Arre Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000120981 Tasio Villacampa Apesteguía Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67293074 Jesús Sayés Chueca Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Peralta, Navarra)
2000122516 Jon Elorza Roy Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000124846 Julen Olasagasti Imizcoz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000132927 Ayoub Goudani El-Baraka Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121909 Jon de Luis Suescun Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121488 Pablo Martínez de Eulate Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Zizur Mayor, Navarra)
2000143515 Diego Almazan Moctezuma Should be Mexican, not Spanish. Was born in Salvatierra, Mexico. Not Salvatierra, Spain
49036981 Thomas Perchaud City of Birth should be Pau, France not Tolosa, Spain
83227951 Álvaro Djaló Dias Fernandes Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (raised in Bilbao, País Vasco), played for Basque club SD Begona in youth, has been on Athletic Bilbao's radar

 

French Player Fixes

  Reveal hidden contents
ID Name Details
50038318 Mickael Berthelot Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
2000030867 Lucas de Ataíde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
85052244 Rémi Elissalde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)
85080719 Pierre Maubaret Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Saint-Palais, has played for only French Basque teams)
85080717 Jérôme Muthular Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)

 

Amorebieta B seems to be only affiliated with Amorebieta now.

Fixed: Erlantz Cubillo Marín, Elijah Gift Izobodo John, Álvaro Djaló Dias Fernandes, Diego Almazan Moctezuma (nationality but not birthplace)

 

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19 minutes ago, IllJLllI said:

Amorebieta B seems to be only affiliated with Amorebieta now.

Fixed: Erlantz Cubillo Marín, Elijah Gift Izobodo John, Álvaro Djaló Dias Fernandes, Diego Almazan Moctezuma (nationality but not birthplace)

 

Thanks, I’ll get the rest entered in as a bug so hopefully we have another ~35 players or so in the pool to choose from

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2023-24 Season Review: The Champions League Awaits

Originally, I thought I'd just run a season through a test save to see how the game plays. However, we did so well this season that it will now become my full save!

We finished a comfortable 3rd in La Liga (14 and 12 pts behind Barcelona - undefeated all season - and Real Madrid respectively but 8 pts ahead of Atletico Madrid) and reached the Spanish Cup semis (a missed opportunity as neither Barcelona or Real Madrid got this far).

We're lining up with the usual 4-1-2-2-1 - a solid ball-winning midfielder sitting behind a BBM and an AP (Sancet), with two inverted forwards supporting the AF. Berenguer is actually a decent AF option in this game. Villalibre is disappointing once again. 

An interesting season for transfers. Nothing really happened in Summer 2023 - Iker Munoz came in from Osasuna, whilst we moved some fringe players on like Nolaskoian, Guruzeta, Prados and Dani Garcia. In January 2024, we picked up a transfer-listed Aihen Munoz, and a couple of low value signings - Artiz Aldasoro from Santander and Unai Bilbao returned from Mexico for CB depth. Yuri, Oscar De Marcos, Aitor Paredes, Ander Herrera, Raul Garcia, and Inigo Ruiz de la Galareta moved on, most of them to the Saudi league. These two windows allowed us to do a lot of our squad transitioning early, with overpaid veterans being phased out and some of the younger players (Aimar Vicandi, Marvin de Lima, Hugo Rincon, Peio Canales, and Gaizka Alboniga-Menor) got minutes under their belt. Julen Jon Guerreo and a series of promising youngsters from other Basque clubs will join in the close season to improve the B, C and u19 squads.

Second season budgets aren't too promising, so we might only be able to pick up one of our main targets - Guillamon or Djalo - unless anyone moves on (Man City are sniffing around Inaki Williams and I wouldn't reject an outlandish bid). 

EDIT: Gorosabel was probably the bigger priority as I'm weaker at RB than CB/CM/AML/AMR so he took up the majority of my transfer budget. I'm way under the wage limit, so that gives some room for manoeuvre.

My other fight this Summer is to remove Muniain as captain. Every year he is terrible at addressing player unhappiness and is rather whiny himself. The club staff will be overhauled too.

 Next season will hopefully be one of consolidation, with a top four place the plan.

Edited by dothestrand
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Great thread, very helpful. I'll definitely do a proper Athletic save some time this year as I missed one in FM 23, and content here should be my main source of information!

My plan is to play as Andoni Iraola so I can save him from his Bournemouth misery, plus I like having a former club legend as my manager. Or maybe I'll stick to Valverde if he does well irl. 

For the first 3-4 years I will allow myself to buy some players, but then I'd like to start focusing only on my homegrown talent, meaning not signing anybody else at all.

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1 hour ago, 14Hoofball said:

Can someone remember the history with the under 16's loophole?

 

What was SI's reasoning behind it?

And has it always been in the game?

 

Personally I don't find the option appealing.

 

Hey,

As far as I remember the reasoning was that the policy sometimes is not 100% defined, e.g. Laporte as an example. The 16 year old thing is their interpretation of it, personally I don't agree with it and don't sign anyone unless they already have Basque nationality.

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44 minutes ago, bowieinspace said:

Hey,

As far as I remember the reasoning was that the policy sometimes is not 100% defined, e.g. Laporte as an example. The 16 year old thing is their interpretation of it, personally I don't agree with it and don't sign anyone unless they already have Basque nationality.

Absolutely agree.  After the first youth intake it’s not even necessary to go for them either.

If you have all Spanish/French/Basque players loaded in your DB the number jumps from around ~1,000 to ~1,500 Basque players in the first year alone with newgens being the bulk of it.

I will still look at other Basque clubs for any 16yo who don’t have it as a 2nd nationality as this fits the “came through the academy of other clubs in the Basque Country” part of Athletic’s philosophy, but I will rarely find/sign anyone who fits the bill.

There’s def more than enough talent around to be successful with without grabbing up all the Spanish 16yo if that’s how you want to play it for sure.

My internal debate is always whether to do a Lezama-only or “any Basque club/player” save when firing up an Athletic save

(I will often run 1 of each kind, each year, lol)

Edited by southside_hitmen
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@southside_hitmen I added your 23 affiliate guide under 'other guides' at the bottom of the posts at the top, unfortunately for some reason it wouldn't let me tag you properly. I can add this in as a regular post rather than a link, or I can leave it as a link to either the old fm23 post or if you want to make a new one for FM24 I will link it. I would have recreated it myself but there's a lot of screenshots and spoilered images and I didn't want to fail to do it justice. If you want me to include it as a regular post with credit to you in the guide section at the top, just DM me and we can sort out screenshots etc

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Second Season Review - A bit less successful, but still good...I think?

 

La Liga - 4th Place, 74 points
Copa Del Rey - Lost in semi finals to Barcelona
Champions League - Lost in RO16 to Man City


Overall I will take this season as a positive, but our performance levels definitely declined from the first season. We achieved a comfortable 4th place finish, with Real Madrid taking 1st place with a whopping 102 points. 74 points is dissapointing for me, but it was an odd season - we had a lot of marginal games that we drew or lost that perhaps we shouldn't have. For example our goal difference was +40 for 74 points, while Barcelona had +46 for 90 points...fine margins, but ultimately too many games I felt we lacked control over, and we just didn't play as well as we did during the first season. We had a successful Champions League campaign reaching the round of 16 - we just missed out on a top 8 spot in the league phase, then beat Napoli in the play off round, before a resounding defeat to Man City. In the Copa Del Rey, we blew a 2-0 first leg lead in the semi final with two individual errors, eventually losing in extra time to Barcelona. 

 

Transfers and Squad Building

This is perhaps where I consider this season to be more of a success, as we're setting ourselves up well for the future and maximising our sales/finances. We started the season with the addition of Hugo Guillamon who was a key player for us all season, then in January we were fortunate to see Gorosabel get transfer listed by Alaves for only 5.5million! We hopped onto that one and upgraded our right back position. Alboniga-Menor had a fantastic first half of the season on loan at Eibar, so he was recalled in January to take the spot of Benat Prados, who was sold to Cagliari. 

At the time of writing we are now in July 2025, and we've been able to do another deal with Igor Zubeldia coming in for 10.75million after being transfer listed, he was replacing Unai Nunez who wanted a new challenges, so was sold to Saudi for 10million - very happy with this business as Zubeldia is probably better and also covers the DM area. We also made the tough decision to move Iker Muniain on - not something I'd considered really but he was entering his final year, was declining and we received a very good offer from Saudi for 13.25 million. Finally Mikel Vesga at 32 and also in his final year was moved on for 8million. With a starting budget of around 11million, plus 21.25million in sales and a reduction in our wage budget/shifting money to transfers, we've been able to add Zubeldia and still have around 29million available to us. Unfortunately no good first team options available at the moment, but I have added a talented youngster from Osasuna. 

GK - Simon, Agirrezabala and Alvaro Fernandez
RB - Gorosabel, Berenguer
LB - Aihen Munoz, Imanol
CB - Dani Vivian, Yeray, Zubeldia, Paredes
DM - Vencedor, Guillamon, Alboniga-Menor and EMPTY SPACE
CM - Sancet, Aimar, Dani Rodriguez, Guerrero
CF - I. Williams, N. Williams, Serrano, Villalibre


While the squad is solid we have a few issues we need to resolve - firstly we're short a defensive midfielder (or back up centre back if I use Zubeldia more as a DM), I'm keeping an eye on the transfer market here as none of our youngsters are ready. Secondly at CM Guerrero is not really ready, but as a 4th choice I may just use him off the bench and try to get him developing - he had a decent loan last season but is still a way off... I just didn't want to have Muniain around as 4th choice getting annoyed with his playing time, and generally not being an effective captain. Dani Rodriguez has been a real highlight and his development prompted the decision to allow Muniain to leave. In the forward positions we lack quality in depth here - Villalibre is functional, but Serrano in my game is not that great. I think one of our issues this season was that we just didn't have much strength in depth to rotate properly with the additional of the Champions League.

Tactically I'm not planning to overhaul anything, more trying to tweak my 4-2-2-2 system to set up in the way I want. The only changes I've made was moving the HB into an anchor role, I found too often with the HB dropping to form a back 3, I was left in a 3-1-6 when building up with too much pressure on the DLP. With the anchor role, it's more of a 2-4 or 2-2 box, with the wing backs being available in line with the DMs, as they sit a touch deeper in initial build up now due to the centre backs not pushing out as wide as they did before. Ideally I'd attack in a 2-3-5, but I haven't quite been able to get the central midfielders to go wide enough in attack - if I can suss this out I could have one of my wing backs in an IWB role to form a 2-3 at the base. I think in pre season I will explore my Mezzala (A) on the right switching to a CM(A) role, with the stay wider instruction and dribble wider to try to have them providing width in the way I want - the mezzala has the move into channels instruction which may lock them a touch more central. If this works I can play my RB as an IWB(S) to form that 2-3-5 shape I am looking for, with the CM(A) providing the width and not tripping over the DLF. Work to be done here for sure.

 

Edited by bowieinspace
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@bowieinspace I would consider getting Artiz Aldasoro from Santander as a backup DM - would cost a couple of million and has a great personality, and mental/physical attributes. He won't let you down.

The Saudi money can help weaken rivals but can harm you later on if you try to sign anyone from a Saudi club. Robin Le Normand has gone to Al-Hilal but he's on 875k per week! I will never be able to bring him back to Spain.

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5 hours ago, dothestrand said:

@bowieinspace I would consider getting Artiz Aldasoro from Santander as a backup DM - would cost a couple of million and has a great personality, and mental/physical attributes. He won't let you down.

The Saudi money can help weaken rivals but can harm you later on if you try to sign anyone from a Saudi club. Robin Le Normand has gone to Al-Hilal but he's on 875k per week! I will never be able to bring him back to Spain.

Yeah it’s a tough balance with the Saudi money for sure. I’ll quite happily take it for 30+ year olds who are in decline though!

I have reached the point where my first batch of youth intake graduates are 17ish and are in that lovely phase where they can play for the B team and also provide first team depth, so elected to go into the season a bit short. I’m not seeing a good full back pipeline so I’m likely going to need to change my system and play wingers at some stage, trying to figure out how best to navigate that longer term!

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2024-25 Season Review: Consolidation

La Liga: 3rd (same) - 83 points (+1)

Copa Del Rey: QF (lost to Real Madrid)

Champions League: Round of 16 (lost to Napoli)

Not much difference to last season then, but what it shows it that the squad coped well with the addition of European competition. Real Madrid won the league by 9 points, but we were just 3 points off Barcelona. We finished 14 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, so we've quickly become the 'best of the rest' team in La Liga. Mid-season, it was actually much closer - we weren't far off Real at all, but injuries, fatigue and sloppy defeats put paid to any title ambitions.

In another season, we might have done better in the CDR but it's bad luck to get Real that early, I guess. The CL was a real mixed bag. In the eight group stage matches, we won 4 and lost 4 (usually heavily against strong teams), which got us to the knockout stages. Wolfsburg was probably as good a draw as we could've got, and we beat them on penalties. In the last 16 game against Napoli, we won the first leg at home 2-0. For the second leg, I went uber-defensive, and they got back on terms within 10 minutes. It was then a case of 'how much will they win by'? Answer: 5-0. 

Squad Performance

This was our first choice/best performing XI, but we also made significant use of the rest of the first team squad, rotating regularly to keep legs fresh (particularly in the home games against lesser opposition!) Players you don't see in this starting XI who did a great job are Agirrezabala (who played around 20 games due to Simon being injured a few times, and really stepped up/developed), Unai Nunez (solid at CB and RB), Dani Rodriguez (who averaged 7.0 and has also pushed on massively), Julen Jon Guerrero (who deputised well for Sancet) and Inigo Vicente covered the AML position well too when needed (I'll explain in the transfers post!)

image.thumb.png.dedf19453038daa41263602aa713b400.png

This is the usual formation I've deployed for aeons now, whatever the save, and it seems to work well with Athletic Club. The wing backs like to get forward (though we may be more circumspect when using Nunez or Yeray at RB, say) and Vivian tends to be the ball-playing CB with the other being more defensively solid. Like a Ferdinand/Vidic combination.

Our defensive midfielder is usually a ball-winning midfielder, trying to stop the opposition attackers getting to our defence. Vesga, Vencedor or Aldasoro can do that job, but I prefer the latter to be slightly further forward due to his physical prowess. The two centre midfielders tend to be an attacking playmaker (Sancet or Guerrero), with the second being more box-to-box, which Aldasoro or Vencedor can do well. If both play, generally Vencedor is the DM and Aldasoro the BBM. Vesga would always be a BWM. 

Generally, the wide players are inside-forwards who cut in, and fortunately the options here can play both flanks, so you have different options. Inaki is the main striker, but I'll try Nico, or Serrano at a push. Luckily, Inaki has great physical stats so can play most of the time (as in real life!)

What I've experimented with, when I'm leading by a couple of goals and know that Inaki needs a rest, is to drop the ST back to an AMC and play a 4-3-3-0, similar to when Man Utd demolished Roma 7-1 back in 2006-07 and with the Spanish national team at times during their peak. Sancet is usually in that role and does really well in it. We still score goals, even though it's predominantly a formation switch to protect a lead.

Transfers

In terms of first team squad players, we signed Gorosabel (11.75m), Inigo Martinez (250k - for 20k per week!) and Inigo Vicente returned to the club for 5.25m, having torn up the second division (though he's more a rotation option in the AML position). We sold Berenguer for 10m and Villalibre for 2.5m. Loads of young players from across the Basque region joined the junior sides - usually speculative punts based on personality, attributes or gut feel. Only a few will succeed, but throw enough mud at a wall....

Youth Development

Our two youth intakes have been steady, not spectacular, and we have a few guys who may develop well over the next few years. We found a superb French kid at Osasuna, who has serious potential and was a bargain at 500k. 

Generally, any player with serious potential gets loaned out to the Spanish and French second divisions, with an insistence on them starting regularly (sometimes that doesn't happen). Some players perform really well; for others less so. I suppose it partly depends on how well the side they join are doing.

Of the guys who start at Athletic Club, Aimar Vicandi, Peio Canales, Peio Huestamendia, Daniel Belategi, and Gaizka Alboniga-Menor are doing well/OK. Junior Bita and Hugo Rincon aren't seeing loan moves turn into a massive uptick in attributes or development.

We signed Mauro Echegoyen from Osasuna in the previous season because they weren't renewing his contract for some reason (he has serious potential, so sign him!) and he has done really well on loan and I see him as a first teamer in a few seasons.  

The guys above will probably be on loan again next season as they're not first team squad level yet.

Looking Ahead

The minimum expectations should be third but as we ran Barcelona much closer this season, there is a chance we could finish in the top two if we really perform. Muniain will leave for Saudi for 12.5m with no good wishes whatsoever - he is a terrible captain in this game and a really disruptive influence in the dressing room. Vesga is 32 now and may move on. Inigo Martinez returned for next to nothing but with the catch that he was retiring and I couldn't get him to reconsider. Chelsea have been sniffing around Simon and I am curious whether that will turn into a tempting bid because Agirrezabala has done so well when needed (and Alvaro Fernandez is out on loan), so we could cover the GK position - albeit to a slightly lesser extent. But that money could bring some quality reinforcements in, and I would rather lose Simon than Nico.

Aimar and Guillamon would be great but out of the budget range unless we sell someone. Otherwise, I'm not sure anyone else is out there we're interested in, besides some regens who won't currently move (there is a Mexican-Basque player I found in the Mexican leagues but he can't move until next Summer anyway). 

Hopefully, a fairly stable Summer and a strong next season!

Edited by dothestrand
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@dothestrand a lot of similarities with me, but glad you managed a slightly better second season than I did!

It's interesting to see the slight diversification in transfers. I took your advice and ended up signing Aldasoro btw, I needed him because I lost Guillamon and Aimar to long term injuries! Aimar 3 months out and Guillamon 6... eek! Had to sign Aldasoro and Turrientes on a loan to cover it. Aldasoro is very tidy - I don't play any box to box roles so he's not a perfect fit for me, but a very reliable option.

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Hi all.  Thanks to @bowieinspace for setting up the thread and thanks all for the interesting contributions so far and I look forward to seeing everybody's Athletic worlds unfold.

I have been monitoring whilst I got transfers out of my system in an Everton rebuild.  I am excited to be starting my main Athletic save on Monday once the full game is released.  Until then I have started a mini game to test out a few things in advance.  Firstly, I seem to be settling on a 4-2-3-1 but I am struggling to utilise direct passing to satisfy expectations.  I am also struggling to find a good role for Muniain.  The best so far seems to be winger on attack.  He is occasionally exceptional and often poor.  As captain I would like to get consistently good performances from him.    

I am intending to focus on Athletic homegrown players.  I will allow the purchase of former youth players such as Laporte if possible and possibly young Basque players from our affiliate clubs.  Otherwise I will not be making any other transfers.  I will be therefore starting on a "Your World" setting as I do not want any players coming in and I'd like to keep Vencedor and Morcillo.  As usual new contracts getting rid of minimum low minimum fee release clauses seems key and I shall be using transfer funds for this.  I had to give new contracts to Sancet, Nico Williams and Vivian and thankfully Raul Garcia accepted a lower wage to offset the increased wages for these three.

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Season Review 2025/26 - Tactical Valhalla!

 

La Liga - Champions! 99 points
Copa Del Rey - Lost in quarter finals to Elche
Supercopa - Champions!
Champions League - Lost in quarter finals to Liverpool

A double, and a much deserved one. We finally got our 4-2-2-2 working as I wanted to, and an alternative 3 at the back option for the odd specific match worked well too. We just went from strength to strength after some early season tactical tweaks, and aside from a very close loss to Liverpool in the Champions League and an unfortunate exit to Elche in the Copa Del Rey, it was a wonderful season.

Star of the season was perhaps Dani Rodriguez, he played a lot of games and really came into his own. I've also been delighted with the development of Alboniga-Menor who is a great option for us now. Gorosabel in the right wing back role was the player of the season ratings wise, and suits the right wing back role very very well.

Transfers and Squad Building

Despite our success this season it was one which was hampered by a number of injuries - noticeably a torn hamstring for Aimar and a broken leg for Guillamon. We had to sign Aldasoro in January (375k) to fill the gap, and we also loaned in Benat Turrientes with an option to buy (we won't be taking it up). These moves aside it's been quiet in terms of transfers, more a case of utilising our young newgens to bolster squad numbers while also reprsenting the B team. We let Paredes go out on loan with an option to buy in Jan and moved on Villalibre, Serrano will also be on his way out this summer.

Gk - Simon, A. Fernandez, Agirrezabala
RB - Gorosabel, Berenguer + Blasco (newgen)
LB - Munoz, Imanol
CB - Vivian, Yeray, Zubeldia + Javi and Saenz (newgens)
DM - Vencedor, Guillamon, Alboniga-Menor, Aldasoro + Guruzeta (newgen)
CM - Sancet
AM - Aimar, Guerrero + Gorka Merino (newgen)
CF - N. Williams, I. Williams, Dani Rodriguez + Martin and Rogo (newgens)

This is how I look going into the new season. In terms of first team players I'm perhaps two short (CB and CM) but the reality is that with the youngsters we have alongside the ability of Guillamon and Zubeldia to play CB, DM and CM we are actually in good shape. Laporte is coming available on a free transfer, so that might tempt me if he lowers his wage demands. The new gens are still not quite to the level of starters so I'll perhaps save them for another update, but they're making good progress.

 

Tactics

I needed to sort out my width issues with the 4-2-2-2. Basically I wanted to build up in a 3-2-5 of sorts, but couldn't get it worked as well as I wanted, and I always struggled to get the central midfielders moving wide enough. In the end I decided what I needed to do was flag the idea of trying to get the CMs or one of the forwards to stretch the width of the pitch in attack, and instead make the middle more secure and allow both full backs to go high and wide to provide the width. What I settled on in the end was having one of my DM's in a half back role, he would drop in and form a back 3 in possession, then, I had the other as a DM(S), with a DLP(S) in the central midfield strata - they would then form the two. The AM, CF, CF and two wing backs would then form something resembling a 5. In defensive situations we operated more as a 4-2-2-2 so stayed narrow and made it hard for teams to play through us. 

The other changes I made were tweaks to instructions... I switched from balanced/higher tempo to control/slightly lower tempo - this provided a better balance. Then I also switched the block to a mid block rather than a slightly higher press, this was just to make us more compact... we have decent pace in the back line so I was comfortable with doing that and trying to allow our pacey forwards more space to attack in transition.

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Full release day :hammer:

 

I had a look in the pre game editor and my god I feel like I got a bad roll of the dice on my save with variable player potential haha, fortunate I've had some decent youth intakes. Good luck to everyone starting their Athletic saves now it's released in full!

Edited by bowieinspace
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Pre-game editor just showed up on the windows store (gamepass user here) so should have something up in terms of a Basque fixes file tomorrow or Wednesday if all goes well.

I will update anyone not listed as Basque nationality who "should" have it (born in the Basque region) which will be ~45 players when all is said and done.

Will also fix up Oyonesa and a few other bits and pieces with regions.  The highlight will certainly be Victor Musa (Man Utd U18 striker) becoming Basque eligible, a player irl who has U16 caps for England and Spain who was born in Tudela!

I'll also update my Basque filters from last year and give the affiliate clubs a look through to put up a '24 version of the affiliate guide I did @bowieinspace as well.

I am going to do a lite version of build a nation (but really, build a... Basque Country?) I think this year on my main Athletic save that I will detail in a future post.

Excited to get another year of Athletic going!

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@southside_hitmen Thanks for the tip on Victor Musa. I don't have the English leagues added to my game, so I don't know if he will just 'appear' as soon as I do, or whether he's out of the database for good. He looked fairly decent though, when I just started a Man Utd game to check.

@bowieinspace I started a new game just to look at the youth players again, to see whether there was any difference from the start of my save - not really, so no need to re-start the save. 

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24.0 Basque Fixes

The attached file adds Basque as a 2nd nationality for 41 players who were born in the Basque region but didn't have Basque 2nd nationality set in game.

It also properly moves the city of Oyón to the País Vasco region (it's in Alava province irl) so regens born there will get Basque nationality.  This also has the knock-on effect of Oyonesa now generating Basque prospects.

I will enter a bug tracker ticket for the 6 "new" players I found in '24 that haven't already been submitted to the data team as well, hopefully to be included in the next official FM24 patch.

Put it in your `Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2024\editor data` folder to use when starting a new game if you like.

Full list of changes below

 

City/Club Changes

City Larrabetzu No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Lesaka No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Oyón
Local region listed as La Rioja, but should be in País Vasco (it's in Alava province irl) and people born there should get Basque 2nd nationality (this does not currently happen for newgens from here)
Club Oyonesa
Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Oyón (which is in Alava province not La Rioja)

 

French Player Changes

ID Name Details
50038318 Mickael Berthelot Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
2000030867 Lucas de Ataíde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
85052244 Rémi Elissalde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)
85080719 Pierre Maubaret Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Saint-Palais, has played for only French Basque teams)

 

Spanish Player Changes

ID Name Details
2000116049 Unai Uberuaga Regulez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Amorebeita, País Vasco)
2000115306 Alejandro Lafuente Ventura Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Azagra, Navarra)
2000122512 Unai Buján Díez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Barakaldo, País Vasco)
2000122541 Julen Rodríguez Castro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000125367 Aitzol González Corrales Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191366 Gonzalo Alfaro García del Cerro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000111013 Jaime Vallejo Mellado Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000211676 Jaime García Navascués Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000125423 Aitor Pérez Marco Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000125386 Guzmán Sanz Serrano Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Fontellas, Navarra)
2000046853 Odei Martin Sorondo Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Irún, País Vasco)
51078655 Samuel Goñi Villava Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Marcilla, Navarra)
67126235 Alberto Flores Santamaría
Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Oyón, La Rioja) [Oyón is actually in País Vasco province but is wrongly attributed to La Rioja in game]
2000120981 Tasio Villacampa Apesteguía Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121516 Aitor Equiza Hervás Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121920 Daniel Sancho Macaya Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121927 Javier Martínez de Eulate Gradín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67105016 Sergio Murugarren Salvador Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000125387 Xabier Sola Arre Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67193147 Cristian Gilés Sánchez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000159044 Iván Rubio Arriezu Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67222322 Santiago Samanés Bonito Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000100132 Christian Mutilva Razquin Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000116067 Izan Lecumberri Iturbide Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000120560 Iñaki Alonso Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67293074 Jesús Sayés Chueca Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Peralta, Navarra)
2000143515 Diego Almazan Moctezuma Should be Mexican, not Spanish. Was born in Salvatierra, Mexico. Not Salvatierra, Spain
2000122516 Jon Elorza Roy Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000124846 Julen Olasagasti Imizcoz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000132927 Ayoub Goudani El-Baraka Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121909 Jon de Luis Suescun Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
49036981 Thomas Perchaud City of Birth should be Pau, France not Tolosa, Spain
2000121488 Pablo Martínez de Eulate Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Zizur Mayor, Navarra)

 

New for FM24 Spanish Player Changes

ID Name Details
2000251496 Jagoba Gil Roz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Erandio, País Vasco)
2000261422 Íñigo Astudillo Campos Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000077276 Xavier Sola Ruiz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Olite, Navarra)
2000306027 Miguel Auria Olazabal Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000266034 Alexander Esparza López Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tudela, Navarra)
2000272181 Victor Osezele Musa Aigbomian Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tudela, Navarra)

24.0 Basque Fixes.fmf

Edited by southside_hitmen
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After blasting through until January as a trial on the Beta, I have started my full save and I am keen to get going.   I am intending to focus on Athletic homegrown players so limited or no transfers in.  This means keeping hold of my key players is number one priority.  I made it through the first transfer window unscathed and secured many on new contracts taking me well over budget but I was able to negotiate down all the high earners except Inaki Williams to get back under budget.  If Barca can do it, I don't see why we can't.  

I am starting with a basic 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress and see where that takes us.

image.png.69edfb9161e1c4242f2ae6538ea0423a.png

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On 07/11/2023 at 15:32, southside_hitmen said:

24.0 Basque Fixes

The attached file adds Basque as a 2nd nationality for 41 players who were born in the Basque region but didn't have Basque 2nd nationality set in game.

It also properly moves the city of Oyón to the País Vasco region (it's in Alava province irl) so regens born there will get Basque nationality.  This also has the knock-on effect of Oyonesa now generating Basque prospects.

I will enter a bug tracker ticket for the 6 "new" players I found in '24 that haven't already been submitted to the data team as well, hopefully to be included in the next official FM24 patch.

Put it in your `Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2024\editor data` folder to use when starting a new game if you like.

Full list of changes below

 

City/Club Changes

City Larrabetzu No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Lesaka No local region selected, still assigned to nation of Pays Basque, but should be in Spain and País Vasco
City Oyón
Local region listed as La Rioja, but should be in País Vasco (it's in Alava province irl) and people born there should get Basque 2nd nationality (this does not currently happen for newgens from here)
Club Oyonesa
Should be a Basque club, newgens should get Basque 2nd nationality since it's in Oyón (which is in Alava province not La Rioja)

 

French Player Changes

ID Name Details
50038318 Mickael Berthelot Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
2000030867 Lucas de Ataíde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bayonne)
85052244 Rémi Elissalde Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Biarritz)
85080719 Pierre Maubaret Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Saint-Palais, has played for only French Basque teams)

 

Spanish Player Changes

ID Name Details
2000116049 Unai Uberuaga Regulez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Amorebeita, País Vasco)
2000115306 Alejandro Lafuente Ventura Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Azagra, Navarra)
2000122512 Unai Buján Díez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Barakaldo, País Vasco)
2000122541 Julen Rodríguez Castro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000125367 Aitzol González Corrales Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000191366 Gonzalo Alfaro García del Cerro Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Bilbao, País Vasco)
2000111013 Jaime Vallejo Mellado Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000211676 Jaime García Navascués Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Corella, Navarra)
2000125423 Aitor Pérez Marco Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000125386 Guzmán Sanz Serrano Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Fontellas, Navarra)
2000046853 Odei Martin Sorondo Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Irún, País Vasco)
51078655 Samuel Goñi Villava Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Marcilla, Navarra)
67126235 Alberto Flores Santamaría
Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Oyón, La Rioja) [Oyón is actually in País Vasco province but is wrongly attributed to La Rioja in game]
2000120981 Tasio Villacampa Apesteguía Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121516 Aitor Equiza Hervás Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121920 Daniel Sancho Macaya Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000121927 Javier Martínez de Eulate Gradín Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67105016 Sergio Murugarren Salvador Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000125387 Xabier Sola Arre Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67193147 Cristian Gilés Sánchez Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000159044 Iván Rubio Arriezu Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67222322 Santiago Samanés Bonito Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000100132 Christian Mutilva Razquin Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000116067 Izan Lecumberri Iturbide Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000120560 Iñaki Alonso Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
67293074 Jesús Sayés Chueca Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Peralta, Navarra)
2000143515 Diego Almazan Moctezuma Should be Mexican, not Spanish. Was born in Salvatierra, Mexico. Not Salvatierra, Spain
2000122516 Jon Elorza Roy Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000124846 Julen Olasagasti Imizcoz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in San Sebastián, País Vasco)
2000132927 Ayoub Goudani El-Baraka Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
2000121909 Jon de Luis Suescun Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tafalla, Navarra)
49036981 Thomas Perchaud City of Birth should be Pau, France not Tolosa, Spain
2000121488 Pablo Martínez de Eulate Lasa Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Zizur Mayor, Navarra)

 

New for FM24 Spanish Player Changes

ID Name Details
2000251496 Jagoba Gil Roz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Erandio, País Vasco)
2000261422 Íñigo Astudillo Campos Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Estella, Navarra)
2000077276 Xavier Sola Ruiz Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Olite, Navarra)
2000306027 Miguel Auria Olazabal Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Pamplona, Navarra)
2000266034 Alexander Esparza López Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tudela, Navarra)
2000272181 Victor Osezele Musa Aigbomian Should have Pays Basque 2nd nationality (born in Tudela, Navarra)

24.0 Basque Fixes.fmf 15.95 kB · 3 downloads

Lovely.

 

I make a add on each year for youngesters and some from Athletic Club included. Ill post when its completed. 

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2026/2026 Review - Here come the youngsters!

 

La Liga - 2nd (93 points)
Copa Del Rey - Lost in 4th round to Eibar
Supercopa - Winners!
Champions League - Lost in QF to Barcelona

An interesting season, we played well but just lost out in the key moments. We kept up with Real Madrid during the season but eventually fell away and they finished 6 points clear - a deserving title win for them on 99 points. I was delighted to draw Barcelona in the Champions League as we'd been very good against them in the league, however going 2-0 down and having a man sent off at home in the first leg, within 15 minutes of the start, certainly ended our Champions League campaign. We did however manage to win the Supercopa for some silverware!

The big focus this season was again some squad turnover, and we're definitely well into the transition away from the current Athletic players. 2026/27 saw us bring over 90mil GBP in sales - Serrano for 5.5, Alvaro Fernandez for 9.75, Paredes for 4.8, Alex Berenguer for 11, Yeray for 22.5, Imanol for 8.75, Gorosabel for 17.25 and finally Inaki Williams for 15.25. A few slightly unexpected names on this list, but it was time to get some of our youngsters up into the first team - the big ones here beign Yeray, Gorosabel and Williams. Gorosabel was perhaps the toughest call as he's only 30 and is perfect for our system, Inaki was fairly simple - we have a heap of newgens coming through that I need room for, and Inaki had one year left, a huge wage and physical decline was kicking in. Yeray I was happy to hold, but again an opportunity for a decent transfer fee alongside a very, very good newgen. 

On the transfers in front, nothing major, just youngsters with lower fees and a back up keeper. Eneko Cordoba at left back was my biggest addition - a newgen from Arenas Club who had already moved to Koln - disappointed I missed him initially so I had to pay a bit of a premium to bring him in, but an attacking left back was much needed and he looks great. 

Squad:

GK - Simon, Agirrezabala, Iker Alvarez
RB - Jesus Areso, Josu Blasco
LB - Aihen Munoz, Eneko Cordoba
CB - Dani Vivian, Igor Zubeldia, Javi, Carlos Saenz
DM - Unai Vencedor, Mikel Guruzeta, Hugo Guillamon, Gaizka Alboniga-Menor
CM - Oihan Sancet, Jon Castro
AM - Aimar, Gorka Merino
CF - Nico Williams, Dani Rodriguez, Jon Martin, Mikel Rojo

 

Let me formally introduce the first batch of youth!

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First up Josu Blasco - a right back come centre back - I'm using him as a right back due to the combination of his 11 crossing, 14 stamina and 10 jumping reach. Not perfect for my system but currently the best solution I have - I'm trying to get his technical abilities up. I have another winger in the youth team I am retraining as a wing back, so that's exciting.

 

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Javi - I really like this guy. He probably is best placed to be a DM, and he may well shift there longer term as my younger CB options become first team ready, but right now he's being utilised as a centre back, and he's an exceptional one. Obviously not the strongest in the air but so well rounded at 18 - already a 50/50 shout for a starting position with Zubeldia.

 

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I paid some cash to bring Eneko Cordoba in and he looks like it'll be a wise investment. Attacking full backs are so hard to find, he's a real gem and should be a long term option for us at left back.

 

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The development of Jon Martin here is what prompted the departure of Inaki Williams. He's not the perfect forward but he's an excellent option. We have some real gems coming through up front, so his continued development will impact his long term position at the club.

 

spacer.png

 

Jon Castro has just snuck into the first team this summer, more of an attacking midfielder but I am training him to play as a DLP(S) in central midfield, this just gives me better balance with other youngsters coming through. First game of the new season he scored a winner in the last seconds!

 

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When he's not driving for Ferrari he's a slightly chunky looking Basque defender apparently. Carlos here is a very well rounded centre back who is coming into the first team this season as 4th choice. 

 

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Mikel Guruzeta, a man who has loyalty only to aggressive tackling. I've tried to improve his loyalty via mentoring but he's still a mercenary. None the less, aside from the fact he changes his mind more than an indecisive traffic light, he's a very solid defensive midfielder.

 

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Gorka Merino is a really exciting attacking midfielder with a great hair do. 

 

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Finally Mikel Rojo is a pacey hitman type forward, I've not seen the best of him yet, but with his attribute spread and professional personality I've always looked on him favourably.

Edited by bowieinspace
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@bowieinspace Thanks for the update.  it is always interesting to see various Athletic newgens and track their development. 

We have just made it through to March and things are ticking over okay with the exception of our captain, Muniain, getting in a huff because of the shortage of centre backs as I loaned out Aitor Paredes.  We always have too many players to keep happy until we have European football to worry about so I cleared some of the squad to make it more manageable.  The biggest threat to the season is the influence of the Incredible Sulk rather than the squad depth.  I'll report back later as to how things turn out.

I came in to show you our first youth intake.  Not a golden generation but I promising crop all the same.  Let the development begin.  

image.thumb.png.37f39d1e4cae18e5a9c002085fce7f99.png

Sadly the Alonso's are not twins/brothers.

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2025-26 Season Review: Going One Better

La Liga: 2rd (+1) - 89 points (+6)

Copa Del Rey: F (lost to Real Madrid)

Champions League: Round of 16 (lost to Liverpool)

A great season as we improved in both the domestic league and cup competitions and still performed admirably in Europe. A second place finish in La Liga with six extra points is fantastic, and we were only 7 points behind Real Madrid (and were 4 points ahead of Barcelona), so we're closing the gap. The top three has pulled away massively now - Sevilla were 4th but 12 points off 3rd, then Villareal were 5th, a further 9 points behind Sevilla!

We reached the final of the Spanish Cup but couldn't lay a glove on Real Madrid - some good wins on the way though. In the Champions League, we squeaked through to the knockouts, where we initially faced Napoli, who knocked us out last season. A home draw was followed by a brilliant 1-0 win on their patch. The last round of 16 was against Liverpool, who beat us 2-1 at San Mames. Done and dusted? Well, astonishingly we turned it around at Anfield to make it 3-3 on aggregate, but lost out on penalties. I'll take that though as it shows we can compete.

Squad Performance

Below, you can see how the players performed. I persevered with the 4-3-3-0 (no striker) formation I tried out last season, and it worked really well. This line-up's not quite accurate as Sancet would be where Dani Rodriguez is, and JJ Guerrero would be in Sancet's position in CM. Sancet is great in the final third and scored as much as I'd expect from a striker, and the other attacking players chipped in too. Vicandi spent the first half of the season on loan, then got injured, but when he returned, he performed much better than Inaki (who was on the bench in the final stretch - a 6.76 season average is poor, and I'm looking to move him on now). The standout player for me though is Aldasoro - what a return! A couple of million from Racing Club Santander is an absolute steal. He is a Duracell bunny of a footballer and plays the BBM role perfectly. Overall though, we rotated the squad well and gave young players some opportunities along the way.

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Transfers

I went into the season with two targets - Aimar and Guillamon - and hoped I'd get one of them. We burned out entire transfer budget on Guillamon (32.5m plus add-ons) and his versatility makes it worth it. We sold Vesga with six months of his contract left for 6m, which gave us some breathing room, though I spend that on an excellent-looking DM from Osasuna (who's been in and around the first team). Inigo Vicente moved on too, as once Vicandi came back, there was no role for him.

Youth Development

We had a very good intake and our two previous intakes/youth signings over the last few years now mean we have a number of players who are developing well, in most positions. Here's the DM I signed from Osasuna - definitely the most promising of all.

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We have 4.5* potential players at CB and CF (who can play across both wings) in the B side, so they're only 1-2 years off being first team quality.

Three 5* potential players in the U19s in the GK, AMC and AMR positions too, so I'll keep an eye on those. There are also a number of talented young Basques out there not looking to move yet but remain on the radar.

Looking Ahead

No point being modest now - top three is an absolute minimum and more progress in Europe would be very nice! I'm looking to sell Inaki this Summer. I want 50m and a Saudi club is interested, but as long as I can get the money to sign Aimar and save the wages, I'd be happy. The GK situation is an interesting one with Simon, Fernandez and Agirrezabala all good enough to be first choice. I wouldn't be devastated if someone offered good money for Simon, but keep two and loan one sounds fine too if Inaki leaves. 

UPDATE: OK, so I've sold Nico for 132m (release clause), Simon for 75m and Inaki for 20m. Wish me luck! I've signed Aimar and a load of Basque regens.

Edited by dothestrand
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Love the save updates, keep them coming!

Working through affiliate guide and player search screen filters for '24 like last year (so you can filter by all Basque clubs, cities, etc...) at the moment.  I've found 4 new Spanish Basque clubs added this year it looks like already and I'm only through about 50% of the clubs I need to look at.

Should have downloadable search filters and a new affiliate guide up sometime next week.  Once that's done and shared here I can properly start my journey with Athletic this year.

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