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FM17: Athletic Club Bilbao - Basque in the glory

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Ghents   

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(@bowieinspace is going to be the main driver of this thread, I'm getting it started for FM17)

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, along with the Copa del Rey, as far back as 1984.

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.
 

HISTORY OF ATHLETIC BILBAO

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Athletic Bilbao Football ClubFounded 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 Mammes 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.

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RECENT SUCCESS

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.  

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 and Osasuna and also competitive rivalries with Barcelona and Real Madrid. They're 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • There are some good grizzled vets like Aduriz, Benat, Garcia and San Jose to get you started and a mix of some great younger prospects in the first team like Laporte, Munian and Williams.

 

 

Edited by Ghents

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Ghents   

First Team Squad

KEEPERS

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The keepers are pretty straight forward. Kepa is your future and if you really want, he can be your starting keeper out of the gate. Iraizoz is still very useful as a starting keeper, but his deal runs out after the first season and I'm not sure I'd keep him on after. Herrerin is a perfectly capable backup to Kepa, who should be your first choice keeper by midseason. I like to alternate a bit with Iraizoz and Kepa and continue to tutor Kepa until about midseason and go all in.

DEFENDERS

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The crown jewel of your defenders is Aymeric Laporte. In past years he's been a quick target for teams to unsettle, but so far I have not experienced this in 17. He's a fantastic ball playing defender with great mentals and good athleticism. He can play in a back three or a back two. Next to him I typically will play Mikel San Jose, but he can also be pushed up as a defensive midfielder or a destroyer in the central midfield. Xabi Etxeita is a very good third option and even a solid starter if you prefer to push San Jose up to the midfield. After those three it can get a little sketchy. Elustendo is solid depth, but not much more than that.

At the fullback position you have always reliable Balenziaga who can get forward and hold his own defending. He's well rounded and should be a rock for you at left back. You can already see I strengthened my side by picking up Isla Lopez for about 2.5M at the beginning. I wasn't comfortable with Boveda as anything more than just emergency depth. As for the right back, Oscar De Marcos is a good attacking option, but not the best defensively. He also is the swiss army knife of Bilbao, with the ability to play both wings and as a shadow striker. You could probably retrain him to play a DM role as well, making him useful all over the pitch. Behind him you have Lekue who is an adequate fill in if you need to push De Marcos to an attacking role.

MIDFIELD

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The midfield overall is probably the strength of your squad. For the holding midfielders as mentioned you can use San Jose, but Iturasspe is the star here. He can simple play a role to cover the defenders and recycle possession, play in the central midfielder as a holder or destroyer, or just star as a box to box type. To pair with him you  have Benat as your creative force. I like to deploy him as an advanced playmaker, but he is just as good as a deeper playmaker, roaming or even a box to box role. Mikel Rico is on the decline, bu he's still a useful spot starter and back up player. On the wingers you have your two promising young starlets in Iker Munian and Inaki Williams. Williams will generally end up playing striker for you, but I like him on the wing as an inside forward because of his pace. For a more true winger you still have Markel Susaeta, who's contract is coming to an end after the first season. Because you're limited by the Basque rule, I'd re-sign him. He can alternate with Williams or just flat out be a full time regular for you on the right wing. Both Raul Garcia and De Marcos can play on the right wing for you as well. For younger depth you have Ager Aketxe that can fill in on the left wing or as a creative threat in the midfield. You also have Sabin at the start, but I typically end up loaning him out to get him game time.

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ATTACKERS

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In the AMC role you're going to want to use Raul Garcia. He's excellent as a second striker but if you need a more creative role there he can fill that too. Williams and Munian can also fill roles here too, as well as De Marcos and Aketxe. The first team strike force is very top heavy with Aritz Aduriz, who teams will try to buy for very cheap early on, but do not sell him. He's still an amazing piece to have even at his advanced age, especially for tutoring purposes. He's still flat out effective as a goal scorer, too. Garcia and Williams can fill in as strikers as well if you prefer more of a creative or supportive role, but if you want a true goal scorer, Aduriz is your man for at least a season or two before he should slide into a backup role.

Edited by Ghents

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Ghents   

The goals I set for myself in the first season at Athletic were the following:

  • Finish Top 6, getting at least back to Europa League
  • Make it to the knockout round of Europa League
  • Hold on to key younger first team players
  • Find a few developmental depth players for the future.

I knew the strength of my team was going to be in the midfield, so I decided going forward I was going to build to lean on that.

FORMATION:

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Since this is going to be a long-term save, I decided that I wanted to do something that would be able to utilize versatility and wouldn't leave me struggling to find certain positions if injuries occurred. Since I'm limited by Basque only players, I can't just go buy someone in a window if I have a major injury. That's a big reason I chose to go strikerless. I can play people in multiple spots so it makes rotation easy and depth is easier to come by. The idea is to control possession and hit the other team on counters when we win the ball back in the midfield. I went with a quasi-4420, with the two DM's sitting to help the defense. One DM is set to sit as cover and the other is set to get further up the pitch and help setup attacks.

TRANSFERS:

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The biggest signing I made initially was for left back Isma Lopez. I needed at least cover there, as I didn't really trust Boveda would do me much good and Lopez was a cheapish option that I felt I could start if I really needed to. He ended up forcing his way into the starting 11 for most of the season, so I think it was a great value signing. Jonathan Espericueta was someone I found at random looking through Basque players. He was playing in the Mexican league and was of Mexican nationality, but he spend two seasons with Villareal beginning when he was 15, which I guess qualified him as being trained in the Basque region. I signed him to be depth in my midfield and that's exactly what he was. I also think he can develop into a rotational starting option when Benat moves on, especially with my assumption of losing Rico after the season. The other signings I made were gambles on players who can develop playing with my B-side and youth. There were plenty of offers for Williams, Munian and San Jose in the first transfer window, but I was able to fight them off with promises that they could leave if we failed to make Champion's League. I figured I could take the shot and delay losing them another season.

Disaster struck in the January window however, as my repeated rebukes of Tottenham finally succumbed to a max bid. I'd been trying to get a new contract for Munian to up his release clause, but he was already unsettled and refused to negotiate.

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The only benefit of losing Munian is it enabled me to accelerate my chase for Mikel Moreno, who was playing for the Dortmund B-Team in Germany. He was my first big target for the 2017/2018 summer window, but I ended up picking him up a window earlier and he was a big factor in my side the remainder of the season, winning youngster of the year.

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As for my first youth intake, I came away with a handful of promising future prospects.

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I wouldn't be surprised if Alex Reta found his way into Cup matches sooner than later. I'll keep him with my U19 for a bit and see how he does while he transitions to playing AMC in our formation and then see if he can break into the B-Team.

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Montes I'm not sure how I want to go with him just yet. He's going to really need to work on his crossing, first touch, marking and passing no matter where he plays. I'm leaning towards making him a fullback on both sides, to dovetail with my idea of squad versatility. He's strong with both feet, so it shouldn't be an issue for him to play both sides.

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Bilbao screams defensive midfielder to me, so I'm going to train him as such with the idea that he can eventually be the holding DM in my formation.

RESULTS:

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Safe to say I met my first goal, a Top 6 finish. I held on to the third spot by the skin of my teeth, thanks in part to a 10 game run of wins, which let me hold off Atletico de Madrid.

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Not only did I make it to the knockout round of the Europa League, but I won the whole damn thing. I will admit I got a little lucky on my way through getting Rosenborg for my first knockout match up, but I also did knock out PSG in the second round. After that we had to make it past Fenerbache in the quarter finals and PSV in the semi-finals.

PLAYER STATS:

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Edited by Ghents

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Jean-Luc   

Is the "Basque only" buying limitation hard coded into the game or is it a role playing choice? I actually like the idea a lot. It's always nice to work with limitations that force you to play different than you normally do.

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Athletic Bilbao – A guide to 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 and Javi Martinez, 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.

 

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 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.

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 under 19 team is largely empty. Most of the academy players are to be found at Bilbao Athletic (B team) and Baskonia (C 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 team with some being able to make an immediate impact.

 

Bilbao Athletic & CD Baskonia

Last season Bilbao Athletic played in Liga Adelante, 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 Liga Adelante 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. Two of these men, Mikel Vesga and Yeray are now part of the first team this season, with the latter playing a key role alongside Laporte in the centre of defence. Yeray has been significantly underrated in this game due to his superb emergence as a first team player this season, however expect that to change with the January update. Some other players were subsequently loaned out to teams in higher divisions following relegation, so be sure to keep an eye on these guys as they will be able to provide first team depth in the second season. 

Baskonia play in the regional division, 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.

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The key players from Bilbao Athletic (B Team)

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The key players from Baskonia (C Team)

Those Immediately ready for some first team action:

Yeray  (centre back) – Now with the first team in real life. At his current in game level he is likely to provide a good first team cover option, and on some saves does actually start with the first team. At his age, he’s unlikely to have significant potential beyond what the assistant manager thinks, however he’s currently a bright talent in real life so definitely worth keeping an eye on him and giving him some first team opportunities. He's been exceptional alongside Laporte in real life this season, so hopefully gets a buff in the January data update.

Kepa (goalkeeper) – Another who may well start with the first team when you load up your save. Arguably the brightest prospect to have come through Lezama in recent years and tipped for big things. He’s currently the first choice keeper for the Spain U-21s and has made the step up to the first team this season, displacing Herrerin as the best option aside from Iraizoz. From the start of your game, he should be the starting keeper as he will be the future of Athletic Club in that position. He begins with a healthy current ability, and should develop well to become a leading keeper in the division even if he's arguably under rated in FM this year.

Asier Villalibre (centre forward) – The man who many believe to be the long term replacement to the evergreen Aritz Aduriz. Villalibre will start at Bilbao Athletic and is a very good player in that team. I would recommend promoting him immediately to the first team as he can provide cover for Aduriz, Williams and Sabin in the centre forward position, and he can be used as a substitute or in the Copa Del Rey to give him first team experience. In the mean time, you can also make him available for Bilbao Athletic to give him more match experience and keep him playing regularly. In real life, Aduriz looks set to continue for some time yet, however in the game he is likely to decline during the first season, so blooding Villalibre is going to be key to strength in that position for season two.

Ager Aketxe (wing/attacking midfield) – This young man was showing real promise in the first team before injury curtailed his season last year. He is back fit again now and looking to make an impact on the left, however with a lot of competition for this place opportunities are limited. A loan option could be good, otherwise be sure to give him first team opportunities.

Enric Saborit (left back) – May well start at Athletic Club or Bilbao Athletic and he offers a good option at left back. Not as good as Balenziaga, but as the second best natural left back, he provides good cover for Balenziaga.


Starting on Loan but definitely require attention for Season Two:

Unai Lopez (attacking midfield) – A bright talent at Lezama and he has played plenty of first team minutes already. For a few years now on FM he has been the brightest youth talent at Athletic Club. This season that mantel perhaps falls to Kepa or Villalibre, however Unai Lopez is still likely to be a key first team player for many years and should be developed carefully. He may need tutoring at the start of the game, so be sure to check his key stats.  He often starts with a low determination stat, so be sure to tutor this, However he begins the game on loan at CD Leganes in La Liga, so he will come back having had a season of top division football under his belt provided they play him.

Alex Remiro (goalkeeper) – Extremely well rated on FM this year, and may well even provide a challenge to Kepa as the number 1 keeper. He’s on loan at Levante for the first season but can then be promoting to the first team to compete with Kepa after Iraizoz has retired. In reality, Kepa is seen as a step above Remiro, however in game he looks set to provide a real challenge to the young man.

Oscar Gil (defensive mid/centre back) – Did very well as a centre back last season having transitioned from a midfield role. In game he starts on loan at Oviedo in Liga Adelante, and will be a solid prospect for the first team. See how he goes while on loan at Oviedo and get him involved with the first team in season two.

Urtzi Iriondo (left back) - Likely to be comparable to Saborit and could operate as a back up in the future. He starts on loan so be sure to keep an eye on him, he may be ready to operate as first team cover come season two.

Gorka Santamaria (centre forward) - May provide cover in the second season as the club is generally short in that position. He's a good goalscorer and will have a year on loan in Liga Adelante to progress.


Future Options & Important B team players

Unai Bilbao (centre back) – A solid centre back who has the potential to provide a good first team cover option. Unlikely to ever be a first choice option, but can definitely provide depth. 

Inigo Vicente (centre forward) – an old fashioned centre forward with some development needed, however could provide good first team depth in the future. Likely to improve beyond his starting potential rating.

Chris Atangana (goalkeeper) – Another good quality keeper in the Athletic Club ranks. He starts at Baskonia, but has plenty of potential and could challenge Remiro and Kepa in the future. He could be promoted to Bilbao Athletic to cover for Remiro, and eventually take over in that starting role.

Jon Sillero (right back) – This young man has taken over the starting right back spot from Markel Etxeberria at Bilbao Athletic following his departure on loan. He’s a real talent and Athletic have a habit of developing solid full backs. He doesn’t start with an enormous potential in game, but definitely worth keeping an eye on his progress.

Peru Nolaskoain (attacking midfield) – A good quality 17 year old who starts at Baskonia. He could turn out well with the right tutoring and development

Julen Arellano (left back) – Not a Bilbao player anymore, however he can be purchased back from Osasuna for nothing. Keep an eye on him and his development, he has the potential to be a good player. Similarly Xiker also falls into this boat.

Markel Etxeberria (right back) - Never going to be a 4* star, but a solid attribute distribution makes him a potential cover option in the future. Especially with the emergence of Lekue, his usefulness in FM has perhaps diminished somewhat, but could definitely be a good cover option for the future.

Other important B Team players:  Jurgi Oteo, Iker Hernandez, Tarsi Aguado, Aitor Seguin and Iker Undabarrena both start with a 2-3 star potential and could offer cover for the first team if required, they will also be good to keep around to try to get the B Team promoted back to Liga Adelante. To have the B team playing in the second division can be EXTREMELY helpful for player development!

 

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. 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!


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

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 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. 

Edited by bowieinspace
Added B/C Team Info

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4 hours ago, Ghents said:

 

(@bowieinspace is going to be the main driver of this thread, I'm getting it started for FM17)

 

 

Thanks Ghents for the help! Between myself and Ghents we will put everything together for this thread - I'm just a little busy overseas with work at the moment and don't have much time available until late November.

I will be around to answer any Athletic questions over the next few weeks though, and look forward to seeing this thread booming again!

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Please note, a player in their B team could be decent. I loaned him for my Ingolstadt side. Unai Bilbao, a towering CB who has decent mental stats as well.

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Ghents   
51 minutes ago, Bunkerossian said:

Please note, a player in their B team could be decent. I loaned him for my Ingolstadt side. Unai Bilbao, a towering CB who has decent mental stats as well.

Yes. We plan on covering their U19, B team and C team prospects.

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Had a very average first season with Bilbao, finished 6th in the league but resigned three games before the end, was just getting frustrated with the Basque limitation and there was no one really who could improve the squad. Ended up at Brentford second season and got to the play-offs, now just started third season.

It's a unique challenge, Bilbao. A difficult one but its fairly enjoyable. 

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davehibb   

I've been looking forward to a Bilbao thread for FM17.

It's one of the saves I've set up but haven't progressed very far with, so all the insight is helpful. ;)

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Thank you for opening this up already. :) I've had my first test save during the beta and finished third in the league and won the Copa del Rey along with it. Got Ander Herrera back during the summer 2017 but that is also where I quit the save.

I am now waiting for the database to be updated to get at least some joy from Kepa and Yeray. So I will be updating on my progress in here in the future.

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Ghents   

Will be updating Season 1 this weekend. Been busy and haven't finished just yet, but sitting in January holding firm in 3rd Place in La Liga and in the knockout round of EURO.

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Ghents   
21 minutes ago, Lewis007 said:

Is having the French leagues loaded beneficial when playing as Athletic?

I have wondered the same thing, since there are a handful of French players with Basque heritage. I loaded them on my current save, but I haven't hit youth intake yet. In theory, one would think it would help out in potentially increasing the pool of Basque players going forward.

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Tyggis   
On 15.11.2016 at 21:20, El Payaso said:

Thank you for opening this up already. :) I've had my first test save during the beta and finished third in the league and won the Copa del Rey along with it. Got Ander Herrera back during the summer 2017 but that is also where I quit the save.

I am now waiting for the database to be updated to get at least some joy from Kepa and Yeray. So I will be updating on my progress in here in the future.

WIll there be a database update before March?

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6 hours ago, Tyggis said:

WIll there be a database update before March?

No, unfortunately. 

However you can always edit the database (that's what I did, I don't like to do it but Yeray and Kepa are a travesty in this game)

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On 11/19/2016 at 06:35, Lewis007 said:

Is having the French leagues loaded beneficial when playing as Athletic?

In theory, yes, in reality....meh. Decent french basque regens are so rare, you could get by without it and not notice. 

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I think that Athletic is a club where you don't need to buy as the finances are good and you can spend all the money on youth development. 

Will try to find time to tweak some of the players with the editor and then I begin my journey again. 

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Ghents   

SEASON 2 UPDATE:

The first order of business we went for in the offseason was taking a shot at signing a star player now that we had made it to Champion's League. Being limited to Basque only also means those options are limited, but with Villalibre not quite ready for first team and Aduriz likely to retire after the season, I wanted to bolster the attack. Griezmann wasn't willing to join, but I was able to bring back Ander Herrera who wasn't happy at Manchester United for 35 million pounds. It ended up being an amazing signing.

Bv2rSSb.png

I stuck with the same formation I used last season, the deep 442 strikerless. I started out with Herrera as a wide midfielder but injuries forced me to play him as a shadow striker, and his creativity added another dimension and he stuck there for the remainder of the year. Overall for the squad it was another great season all-around.

gzePrJp.png

RESULTS:

bSDG96Y.png

IO8995Z.png

We led La Liga for the first half of the season, but a rough injury spell and a row of draws let Real Madrid sneak past us, but we held on to finish second in the league. We also went much deeper than I expected us to in Champion's League, getting knocked out on aggregate to Juventus 3-4 in the quarterfinal round. 

I don't have any big transfers lined up for Season 3, as really the only big target I can chase is Griezmann, but I have a few young players I'd rather bleed into the first team, like Villalibre who ended up scoring the 3rd most goals in La Liga while on loan.

e2h2BOv.jpg

 

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Great season again @Ghents. That Esperiqueta guy was really amazing midfielder in last year's edition and I had him with my most successful spell at Athletic. How does he look in this year's edition?

For me Villalibre was well up to the challenge already in first season and he scored really nice amounts while being tutored by Aritz Aduriz. Also there is that one guy in Baskonia whose name I have forgotten... A midfield playmaker anyway that will become really good.

It's game day btw. Aupa Athletic!

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48 minutes ago, El Payaso said:

Great season again @Ghents. That Esperiqueta guy was really amazing midfielder in last year's edition and I had him with my most successful spell at Athletic. How does he look in this year's edition?

For me Villalibre was well up to the challenge already in first season and he scored really nice amounts while being tutored by Aritz Aduriz. Also there is that one guy in Baskonia whose name I have forgotten... A midfield playmaker anyway that will become really good.

It's game day btw. Aupa Athletic!

Peru Nolaskoain? 

Villalibre for me also in the first season is becoming pretty useable, especially since I can't get much out of Aduriz!

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3 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Peru Nolaskoain? 

Yes, him. Unai Lopez is not as good as he used to be, is he? I lost him to Levante on my first save and he only had three and half star potential. 

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Ghents   
6 hours ago, El Payaso said:

Great season again @Ghents. That Esperiqueta guy was really amazing midfielder in last year's edition and I had him with my most successful spell at Athletic. How does he look in this year's edition?

For me Villalibre was well up to the challenge already in first season and he scored really nice amounts while being tutored by Aritz Aduriz. Also there is that one guy in Baskonia whose name I have forgotten... A midfield playmaker anyway that will become really good.

It's game day btw. Aupa Athletic!

He was very useful serving as rotation with Benat and Iturraspe, but has fallen to more of a primary backup since I picked up Merino but overall he was a really good pickup for me and will likely start next to Merino once Benat moves on. I use him in cups and in group play right now and he hasn't gotten upset about the play time. I'm probably going to train him to play both wide midfielder spots too, just for more versatility, until he asks to leave/play more.

Villalibre I kept for the first half season at for the B-team and had Aduriz tutor him, then I loaned him out for the second half. I wasn't sure if I should rotate him in the first team in Season 2 since I picked up Herrera to play SS with Garcia and Aketxe had actually been a great super sub at WML and SS. A La Liga team offered to play him as a key player at striker, so I thought it was better for him to play full time than every few  games with me and it paid off, because he had a heck of a season.

Unai Lopez was a useful swiss army knife sub in Season 2, playing both WM slots and even SS a few games when I had injuries/bans.

And yes, Nolaskoain. He looks like a potential depth player on my save and he did a nice job for the B-team (I promoted him there) and is on loan for Season 3. There is a young keeper on the C-team too, a Cameroon kid who looks like he can be a future backup keeper.

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13 hours ago, El Payaso said:

Yes, him. Unai Lopez is not as good as he used to be, is he? I lost him to Levante on my first save and he only had three and half star potential. 

I think he's just switched from a variable PA to a fixed PA this year, so he's probably not too dissimilar, you might just have gotten lucky with a high PA Unai Lopez last year 

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I have a Bilbao save open this season that I keep going back to but man this is my biggest challenge I've ever faced in FM. 

The biggest issue in my opinion is that a lot of the squad is quite old - Iraizoz, Balenziaga, Etxeita, Iturasspe, Susaeta, Benat, Garcia and Aduriz are all declining or on the verge of declining at the start of the game, and there's really a significant lack of young basque talent to replace them. It's also nigh on impossible to sign any of the world class Basque players, and never anybody from Real Sociedad.

I also found it really, really hard to keep Barcelona off De Marcos - the guy would never sign a contract extension for me, and now as the third season comes to a close, I've lost him on a free. He's 30 though, and playing pretty badly, so perhaps not the biggest loss.

I lost Iraizoz to retirement at the end of the first season, Kepa replacing him. Etxeita refused to sign an extension, Iturasspe and Benat have declined massively and requested to leave, Aduriz retired at the end of the second season despite scoring 16 goals, and Susaeta has decided to retire at 32 (his phyiscal attributes are mainly below 10, and his performances have dropped off massively, to be fair). 

I've made 3 key signings - Mikel Merino from Dortmund for £24.5m in July 2017, Ander Herrera from United for £36.5m in July 2018 - an overpay for sure, but nowhere else to spend the money... and Nacho Monreal from Arsenal in July 2018 for £2.9m.

Current lineup (July 2019):

GK - Kepa / Alex Remiro

DL - Monreal / Balenziaga

DC - Mikel San Jose

DC - Ayermic Laporte

DR - Inigo Lekue

MC - Ander Herrera

MC - Mikel Merino / Unai Lopez

AML - Iker Muniain / Sabin

AMC - Raul Garcia

AMR - Inaki Williams

FC - Aitor Garcia / Asier Villiabre

 

And that's it. My squad is 16 players right now, and the bolded player Aitor Garcia is the only prospect I've been able to bring through - and what's worse, he wasn't even from my own academy!!! My academy has generated no players that my coaches rate with more than two stars. So whilst Garcia probably the best Spanish striker since Villa, I'm not getting anything homegrown.

Everyone else has either left on their own accord (free transfer, requested, or retired) and I have £145m in the bank that I cannot spend.

Any ideas? I'm being moderately successful - 5th, 4th, 5th, reaching the CL Quarter Finals in the second season, winning the EURO Cup this year, but my board are thinking of sacking me due to poor performance in the league.

Edited by lukekarts

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Welcome to managing Athletic Club!

It is indeed a tough a save and one which requires patience. It sounds like you've been a touch unlucky with your intakes though!

On FM everyone is generally used to progression every year and lots of success, it's not always possible with Athletic Club and it can be a real grind, personally I find I spend a lot more time on Athletic saves on the tiny details and get really engrossed in the save as you need to work every angle to make sure things go to plan.

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It is a very LOOONG term save, IMO. But, so far, so good in my 1st. I just kept changing systems to get results. Right now, I'm settled for a 4-4-2 Leicester style formation just flipped around to fit the players on this side. Just got some more money from my new president. Time to get some more players!

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4 hours ago, lukekarts said:

I have a Bilbao save open this season that I keep going back to but man this is my biggest challenge I've ever faced in FM. 

The biggest issue in my opinion is that a lot of the squad is quite old - Iraizoz, Balenziaga, Etxeita, Iturasspe, Susaeta, Benat, Garcia and Aduriz are all declining or on the verge of declining at the start of the game, and there's really a significant lack of young basque talent to replace them. It's also nigh on impossible to sign any of the world class Basque players, and never anybody from Real Sociedad.

I also found it really, really hard to keep Barcelona off De Marcos - the guy would never sign a contract extension for me, and now as the third season comes to a close, I've lost him on a free. He's 30 though, and playing pretty badly, so perhaps not the biggest loss.

I lost Iraizoz to retirement at the end of the first season, Kepa replacing him. Etxeita refused to sign an extension, Iturasspe and Benat have declined massively and requested to leave, Aduriz retired at the end of the second season despite scoring 16 goals, and Susaeta has decided to retire at 32 (his phyiscal attributes are mainly below 10, and his performances have dropped off massively, to be fair). 

I've made 3 key signings - Mikel Merino from Dortmund for £24.5m in July 2017, Ander Herrera from United for £36.5m in July 2018 - an overpay for sure, but nowhere else to spend the money... and Nacho Monreal from Arsenal in July 2018 for £2.9m.

Current lineup (July 2019):

GK - Kepa / Alex Remiro

DL - Monreal / Balenziaga

DC - Mikel San Jose

DC - Ayermic Laporte

DR - Inigo Lekue

MC - Ander Herrera

MC - Mikel Merino / Unai Lopez

AML - Iker Muniain / Sabin

AMC - Raul Garcia

AMR - Inaki Williams

FC - Aitor Garcia / Asier Villiabre

 

And that's it. My squad is 16 players right now, and the bolded player Aitor Garcia is the only prospect I've been able to bring through - and what's worse, he wasn't even from my own academy!!! My academy has generated no players that my coaches rate with more than two stars. So whilst Garcia probably the best Spanish striker since Villa, I'm not getting anything homegrown.

Everyone else has either left on their own accord (free transfer, requested, or retired) and I have £145m in the bank that I cannot spend.

Any ideas? I'm being moderately successful - 5th, 4th, 5th, reaching the CL Quarter Finals in the second season, winning the EURO Cup this year, but my board are thinking of sacking me due to poor performance in the league.

This is why the soon I begin the save, I resign all my players. If they decline, that's fine, I'll just sell them on. They usually sell for a bit but the worst scenario for me is losing a good player for nothing and not having any money to replace him

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2 hours ago, Jean0987654321 said:

It is a very LOOONG term save, IMO. But, so far, so good in my 1st. I just kept changing systems to get results. Right now, I'm settled for a 4-4-2 Leicester style formation just flipped around to fit the players on this side. Just got some more money from my new president. Time to get some more players!

No way, did Urrutia not get re-elected? That's funny, I would have thought he'd be a sure thing! he got re-elected on mine so on the same shoddy budget, however I did get Merino on loan with a 20mil option to buy. Just managed to confirm the transfer in March at 5 upfront, 15 over 48 months to keep within my budget...success!!

 

1 hour ago, Jean0987654321 said:

This is why the soon I begin the save, I resign all my players. If they decline, that's fine, I'll just sell them on. They usually sell for a bit but the worst scenario for me is losing a good player for nothing and not having any money to replace him


I have generally done the same in the past, but this year I found all of my key players wanted their release clauses unrealistically reduced, so I decided to wait and do them as and when I could. I found generally I'd try to negotiate wage down and clause up from what they wanted, this usually resulted in them still getting a payrise, but I wanted to haggle a bit. However I found the agent then locked the release clause in low and I couldn't adjust anything, it was super frustrating, so I've figured out now I can convince them to increase the clause but I have to up their wage massively.

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Bit of a career update from me:

Currently in Season one, sometime in March just before the youth intake. I'm in the 2nd KO round of the Europa League against Schalke and competing for 3rd/4th with Atletico who are on fire at the moment.

Purchases: Merino (20million GBP, mostly in instalments). I managed to get him on loan with an option to buy. He hasn't been keen to join, but with a few contract promises and a decent wage I've managed to get it over the line in March. I did consider waiting until we had Champions League to see if he was more keen to join, but decided to take him when I could even if it's cost me a little more.

Sales:
Aketxe to Mboro for 7.5million. He would have been a good rotation option, but sale really helped my budget.
Elustondo: Was never going to use him, so moved him on for around 1million
Iraizoz: I let him go on a free to Hull as he was backup to Kepa and wanted games. I love Gorka I couldn't hold him back to play a back up role, even if he's just a computer file :D Next season I'll have Kepa, Herrerin and Remiro anyway so no dramas there

Really wish Unai Lopez was getting more playing time at Leganes as his development has stalled a bit :(

I've got a few formations I've been using this season, a 4-2-3-1 and also a 4-3-3 (strikerless). Both formations are using compact, high pressing styles with fast transitions and overloading the flanks with aggressive full backs. I find it suits Athletic's players well, even though I prefer my full backs to be more defensive, with the balance of this squad you really need to give the full backs the opportunity to attack. Especially in the 4-3-3 strikerless it's super important for my attacking 3 to pressure to box, so that leaves my full backs playing an important wide role. 

Gk - Kepa, Herrerin
CD - Yeray, Laporte, Etxeita
RB - Lekue/De Marcos
LB - Balenziaga/Saborit (Boveda covers the whole defence)
CM - Benat, San Jose, Iturraspe, Merino (Eraso and Vesga covering)
AMC - Raul Garcia
AML - Sabin, Muniain
AMR - Susaeta, Williams
CF - Aduriz, Villalibre

Edited by bowieinspace

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Well, I decided to be a little more patient, and after searching for replacement players I managed to find I young right winger named Xavier Llorente, at Osasuna - a 19 year old regen who my scouts rated 5*! I don't think he's that good - my scouts are a bit eager perhaps, after being assigned to look at so many bad players recently, but nonetheless a year's experience in the second tier and a tally of 6 goals and 9 assists were enough for me to take a chance on him (really, I just saw pace/acceleration 18/18 and a good crossing stat and got desperate) for his £17.5m release fee. Even if he is only as good as Susueta was, that's fine for me.

I also managed to bring in a couple of backup players, and arranged a transfer for Javi Martinez (now 32) from Real Madrid. He's only amassed a dozen games in two seasons there, and had been frozen out. £6m later (but £115k p/w) and he's mine...

My fourth season in charge is going much better, mainly because Real Madrid have slumped, with Zidane getting the sack. Barcelona have a 15 point lead, whilst both Madrid's and the mighty Bilbao under my helm are tied for second place with 8 games still to play.

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That Santamaria striker looks good in this game. Could be a backup for me in the first team when he gets back from Cadiz. I need 4 true strikers anyways....

 

BTW, you should get Eboko REAL QUICK before he turns 17. Usually available from Inter for compensation.

Edited by Jean0987654321

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First Season Summary:

yclLoX1.png

The squad! Not including Mikel Merino who was an important player, but a loan player so doesn't show on this screen. I started off with a 4-2-3-1 but I could never get the striker working, and with a lack of depth in that position I experimented with a 4-1-2-3 and it worked really well, Garcia was superb all season as a shadow striker and led the scoring. Yeray who I edited in the editor before the save to make him a more fair reflection on real life did very well, star rating/stat wise he's similar to Xabi Etxeita after season one and has a little bit of improving to go, certainly no where near as good as Laporte, so pretty happy with my editing. He did great rotating with Etxeita during the season.

 

UJnWqmZ.png

Europa League:
We ended up winning it! I usually don't do well in the Europa League as I always put it low in my priorities, however my rotated squads did superbly well during the group stage and some of the knockout games. We were fortunate in that later in the season we had less to play for in the league, so I was able to prioritise the Europa League.

We played Feyenoord in the first knockout round and that was fairly trouble free. Following that, a close tie against a strong Schalke side was a tough test, but after drawing 0-0 away, we pulled out a 1-0 win at home to get through. Next up was Sporting CP, and what a tie this was. We played very well across both legs, however lost the first 2-1 and perhaps should have done better. The second leg was a belter, we dominated them throughout and were 3-1 up with 5 minutes to go (we should have been further ahead, and their goal was a 30 yard free kick), however at 3-1 up and the possibility of losing on away goals still there we were a bit nervous. I was particularly nervous as on FM16 my entire Athletic save revolved around a group of players who choked on every big occasion, I became accustomed to it! As expected, we then proceeded to concede a belter of a goal against the run of play...it was a rocket of a 25 yarder. With 5 minutes to go I'd lost hope to be honest, we were still dominating but I didn't think we could do it. But then, 90 minutes on the clock....oh, the free kick comes in from out wide, flicked on by Yeray...who's this arriving from deep?? Susaeta goooaaaaaallll! I couldn't believe it, after an entire 20 year save of being on the wrong side of things like this on FM16, my FM17 save seemed to be going in a different direction already.

Onto the semi final, we were to play Mainz, who to be honest I was surprised to see them this far through. We dispatched them comfortably over two legs and put in two of our best performances of the season. A final score of 6-1 over two legs was a pretty fair reflection. 

That led to the final against Man Utd, and former Athletic player Ander Herrera. I knew this would be a tough game against a side probably better than us, but I had this team working well with our 4-1-2-3 strikerless formation so I fancied we could cause an upset. The game was a scrappy affair, with both teams delivering a solid defensive performance but nervy at the other end. There were plenty of shots for both teams but the defences were too solid, with a lot of blocked shots and long range attempts. It went into extra time and there were a couple of good chances at either end, but both De Gea and Kepa were up to the challenge. On to penalties we went and I was worried as we had missed a few during the season, and didn't have any good takers in the squad. We were to take first...

Aduriz and San Jose both had their openers saved, but as did the Man Utd takers so we were off the hook. Laporte then scored the opener, followed by another save by Kepa. Yeray then stepped up and slotted home, sending the keeper the wrong way. Mkhitaryan then made it 2-1, so it was down to Susaeta who could win it for us....he hammered it home off the bar and we were Europa League winners!


qoQvLZ9.png

La Liga:
We were very solid all season, and things just got better and better throughout the season. We dispatched Real and Malaga in our final few games as well to make the table look better than it perhaps deserved to be. Malaga and Atletico were playing each other on the final day to decide 4th (or so I thought), as they drew and VIllarreal snuck in to steal the final Champions League spot.

The future:
It's going to be an interesting season now with Champions League as well, and we started off the summer by completing the signing of Mikel Merino on a permanent basis. Honestly I think we've overpaid, but that's kinda normal for Athletic, and I am happy to have a player who will contribute a lot in the next 10 seasons. I wasn't expecting anything after that to be honest, but I noticed Ander Herrera had become a realistic target on my scouting, so I put in an enquiry. To my surprise they negotiated the deal...I had to get them down from an initial figure of 60 million, but in the end I was able to confirm the transfer for 30 million, mostly in instalments and a 120k p/w wage. He's a class act so very happy to get that transfer done, and he still has plenty of good years left in him as well. This meant I moved on Javier Eraso, Mikel Rico and Mikel Vesga to make room in the squad.

Artiz Aduriz decided to then retire from football, which was disappointing in many ways, but I'm happy with Villalibre and Garcia up front anyway.

The unexpected signing of Herrera did leave me with a few decisions to make. With San Jose, Iturraspe, Merino, Benat and Herrera we've got 5 excellent central midfielders, so Herrera is going to play as an attacking midfielder this season and San Jose will cover central defence as well to make sure everyone gets sufficient game time. This allowed me to move on Boveda and Saborit as well as I had a bit more defensive cover, while I promoted Gil, Unai Lopez, Iriondo and Remiro to the first team to rotate and offer cover. Unai Lopez only has a 2.5 star potential with an additional black star on my save at this stage, but he's being tutored by Herrera at the moment so hopeful he can get to at least 3 stars, or at least improve his dismal determination attribute. 

With so many midfielders I'll again be playing a midfield heavy formation for 17/18. I plan to rotate two formations, my 4-1-2-3 strikerless, and a 4-4-1-1. Both formations feature very fluid structures as I want the team to work as a compact unit, with high pressing. In the 4-4-1-1 I have Herrera as an AP behind either Garcia or Villalibre as the striker, with a BWM(D) and DLP(S) behind him. That means I need runners, so both wide players are set up as wide midfielders who run from deep and sit narrow, which allows the excellent De Marcos/Lekue and Balenziaga to push up and get crosses in. The 4-1-2-3 is set up a little differently, with a RPM and a BBM in central midfield acting as runners, so on the wings, Williams plays as a winger (s) with Muniain on the left as an IF(A). 

Bring on 17/18!

 

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So I'm now mid-way through the 2021/22 season. My league positions to this point have been 5th, 5th, 4th, 5th and 3rd last season. Still way behind Barcelona and Real Madrid who spend £100m every summer, but Atletico have fallen off substantially and Sevilla/Villarreal have lacked consistency.

This season has started badly, but I'm topping my CL group and I've had 5 straight wins in the league, putting me back on the fringe of European spots. I blame my poor start on injuries to Merino, Martinez and Williams - the squad really lacks depth. 

Here's my current squad:

3QthkGz.png

On face value, it looks really deep, but there's a bunch of issues:

Mikel San Jose has been forever unhappy. He's now 32, and refused to sign an extension, and is planning on leaving on a free transfer. Aizpiri, my backup centre-back is not very good... My only hope is that Inigo Martinez, who moved to Juventus from Sociedad last summer, will want to leave. He'll only be a short term option, but I'm desperate.

Nacho Monreal is my only starter quality Left-back and he's 35 with 9 pace and acceleration now - clearly past his best. Iriondo has decent attributes but a woeful stamina rating (8) and struggles to last a full game. Right-back is a little stronger - my only defensive position with good depth. I can't find any young basque fullbacks in the game at the moment.

Martinez and now Herrera are in decline. Unai Lopez has been really poor, 6.82 average rating his best season so far. Beyond this season I only really have Merino I can rely on.

Raul Garcia is now 35 and uses a mobility scooter to get around. His decline has been horrific. Williams has played this role a fair bit, whilst Muniain and Llorente cover the flanks. Llorente looks pretty decent at least, but he was an expensive signing from Osasuna and cost £17.75m (his release fee):

ym9kFZL.png

My academy has still not produced a single player worthy of my first team squad!!!! I have a couple of youth in my team (Calvo and Jimenez) but they're far from ready and I had to poach from elsewhere. Jimenez came from Villarreal, and I had to recruit their head of youth in order to entice him along!

I feel like in the next couple of seasons I'm going to really struggle due to a lack of depth.

However, I must say this Garcia kid who I signed from Osasuna is an absolute gem:

hQLg3Sf.png

I've locked him down for another 5 years - with a £120m release fee. Hope it's enough!

Edited by lukekarts

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And the downfall begins :(

Javi Martinez just announced his immediate retirement, following a tear to his cruciate ligaments. Monreal and Raul Garcia are hanging up their boots at the end of the season.

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4 hours ago, lukekarts said:

And the downfall begins :(

Javi Martinez just announced his immediate retirement, following a tear to his cruciate ligaments. Monreal and Raul Garcia are hanging up their boots at the end of the season.

On the plus side that striker is a monster! Javi Martinez has knee ligament issues and it's hardcoded in the game files, he won't always retire at the same time, but it should come up on scout reports/medicals. When I've had him in the past he tears his ligaments every 12-24 months, but he's always played on until around 35 I think.

Hopefully things pick up with your youth recruitment, do you have a good HOYD? You want to make sure you have one with high levels in working with youngsters, judging player ability and judging player potential, as well as a positive personality and a formation similar to one you use (as it helps to get players in the right positions come through). I would never have a HOYD without at least 17-18 across those attributes and a determined/professional personality base.

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1 hour ago, bowieinspace said:

On the plus side that striker is a monster! Javi Martinez has knee ligament issues and it's hardcoded in the game files, he won't always retire at the same time, but it should come up on scout reports/medicals. When I've had him in the past he tears his ligaments every 12-24 months, but he's always played on until around 35 I think.

Hopefully things pick up with your youth recruitment, do you have a good HOYD? You want to make sure you have one with high levels in working with youngsters, judging player ability and judging player potential, as well as a positive personality and a formation similar to one you use (as it helps to get players in the right positions come through). I would never have a HOYD without at least 17-18 across those attributes and a determined/professional personality base.

 

My most recently signed head has the following:

Judging Ability 18

Judging Potential 20

Working with Youngsters 17

I've had a few players that may have made the squad - but they've all been goalkeepers - they're currently all playing for my B/C teams. 

Optimistic for this summer's intake as it will be the first he's been around for. In the interim, Aitor Garcia is carrying me to another top 4 finish.

Oh and on the plus side I have loooooaaads of money. £250m in the bank now.

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7 minutes ago, lukekarts said:

 

My most recently signed head has the following:

Judging Ability 18

Judging Potential 20

Working with Youngsters 17

I've had a few players that may have made the squad - but they've all been goalkeepers - they're currently all playing for my B/C teams. 

Optimistic for this summer's intake as it will be the first he's been around for. In the interim, Aitor Garcia is carrying me to another top 4 finish.

Oh and on the plus side I have loooooaaads of money. £250m in the bank now.

Awesome! Hopefully it will be a good one, but you know how it is, nothing is guaranteed! At least you're doing what you can...I always hold out hope that if my recruitment is no good, Sociedad or Osasuna have likely picked up a couple of decent ones.

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6 minutes ago, bowieinspace said:

Awesome! Hopefully it will be a good one, but you know how it is, nothing is guaranteed! At least you're doing what you can...I always hold out hope that if my recruitment is no good, Sociedad or Osasuna have likely picked up a couple of decent ones.

Have you been able to sign anyone from either of them? I managed to get Garcia for his release fee, but nobody from Sociedad will ever talk to me.

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35 minutes ago, lukekarts said:

Have you been able to sign anyone from either of them? I managed to get Garcia for his release fee, but nobody from Sociedad will ever talk to me.

Osasuna is definitely a little easier than Sociedad. It's pretty much impossible with Sociedad until the club reps are way apart

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davehibb   

Started my Bilbao save fully last night. I'd set it up and got part way through pre-season and left it for a while. I changed my tactic to what seems to be a more suitable 4-3-3, flat midfield & IF's, with high press and high block.

Completed preseason, staved off interest in Munian, Williams, Aduriz and DeMarcos and got everyone tied up on new contracts, without too much hassle or unhappiness. just 1 in, Merino on a 2 year loan with £15m option to buy and 1 out, Elustondo, for £1.5m.

Won 4-1 away to Betis, sneaked past Gijon 2-1 at home, though we battered them and won 1-0 away to rivals Eibar. We have Steaua at home next in the Europa league. I seem to be getting into this one.

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3 hours ago, davehibb said:

Started my Bilbao save fully last night. I'd set it up and got part way through pre-season and left it for a while. I changed my tactic to what seems to be a more suitable 4-3-3, flat midfield & IF's, with high press and high block.

Completed preseason, staved off interest in Munian, Williams, Aduriz and DeMarcos and got everyone tied up on new contracts, without too much hassle or unhappiness. just 1 in, Merino on a 2 year loan with £15m option to buy and 1 out, Elustondo, for £1.5m.

Won 4-1 away to Betis, sneaked past Gijon 2-1 at home, though we battered them and won 1-0 away to rivals Eibar. We have Steaua at home next in the Europa league. I seem to be getting into this one.

 

Sign Merino. You absolutely have to this game!

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My patience is definitely paying off... 11 games to go in the league and I've just overtaken Barcelona by beating them at the Camp Nou!

Gcq91bx.png

Garcia has been my star performer as expected, but this season has really just been a combination of that and some great form from the original Bilbao players, including Etxeberria, Laporte and Lekue in defence and Muniain and Williams in midfield. Herrera is nearing 35, but his high natural fitness has slowed his decline, and my squad players have all performed. I even had a good youth intake this time around, with a striker and defender both 'potentially key players'.

Whether I can continue to mount a serious title challenge I'm not sure, but I'm gonna do all I can to win the league!

WvW0fJA.png

 

Oh and I finally signed someone (after 2 seasons of doing nothing), with Inigo Martinez arriving from Juventus for £5m.

Edited by lukekarts

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7 hours ago, davehibb said:

Started my Bilbao save fully last night. I'd set it up and got part way through pre-season and left it for a while. I changed my tactic to what seems to be a more suitable 4-3-3, flat midfield & IF's, with high press and high block.

Completed preseason, staved off interest in Munian, Williams, Aduriz and DeMarcos and got everyone tied up on new contracts, without too much hassle or unhappiness. just 1 in, Merino on a 2 year loan with £15m option to buy and 1 out, Elustondo, for £1.5m.

Won 4-1 away to Betis, sneaked past Gijon 2-1 at home, though we battered them and won 1-0 away to rivals Eibar. We have Steaua at home next in the Europa league. I seem to be getting into this one.

Good job on the start there, that's as good a deal as I've seen for Merino in the first season. I really should have thought about the two year loan...it didn't even cross my mind!

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1 hour ago, lukekarts said:

My patience is definitely paying off... 11 games to go in the league and I've just overtaken Barcelona by beating them at the Camp Nou!

Gcq91bx.png

Garcia has been my star performer as expected, but this season has really just been a combination of that and some great form from the original Bilbao players, including Etxeberria, Laporte and Lekue in defence and Muniain and Williams in midfield. Herrera is nearing 35, but his high natural fitness has slowed his decline, and my squad players have all performed. I even had a good youth intake this time around, with a striker and defender both 'potentially key players'.

Whether I can continue to mount a serious title challenge I'm not sure, but I'm gonna do all I can to win the league!

WvW0fJA.png

 

Oh and I finally signed someone (after 2 seasons of doing nothing), with Inigo Martinez arriving from Juventus for £5m.

Good luck on the league Luke!

I'm going to add a short section into my post near the top on the B/C team players on scouting and recruitment tips. It sounds like you're into the swing of things now but feel free to have a read!

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