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FM20 - Athletic Club - Basque in the Bilbao Sunshine

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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 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

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 17-18. Heralded as a potential winner of the Europa League in 16-17, the club lost in the round of 32 to Apoel Nicosia in a surprising result. Following the 16-17 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 17-18 season. In 18-19, 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.

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. 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

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Athletic has very high standards and expectations. Here you can see you are expected to get into the Europa League as a primary target, with development towards the Champions League in future seasons. While doing this, you are required to focus on youth development and, of course, can only sign players of Basque nationality.

Edited by bowieinspace

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The First Team

Athletic have a strong squad capable of challenging for Europe, with good depth throughout the team. Let's take a look at each section of the team and some of the key players in each area:


Goalkeepers

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In goal you have two very solid options, the experienced Iago Herrerin, the loyal back up for many years to Iraizoz and Kepa who has never quite been capable of locking down the number 1 spot, alongside Unai Simon the next hot prospect from Athletic's goalkeeper factory.

Both are well rounded and best suited to a sweeper keeper role. Depending on the exact attributes you like in a keeper, you could make a case for either to start, however given Simon's potential to improve, it's hard to look past him as the more obvious option. Just be sure to give Herrerin some games as well to keep him happy.

 

Defenders

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Athletic have good depth across the defensive lines.

Inigo Martinez - A true leader in the defensive area. He is your first choice centre back, and as a bonus he's also left footed/left sided. He's not the strongest aerially, although capable, however his main attributes are on the ground. Both a fantastic ball player but also an aggressive tackler. He can play the stopper role well which suits a stopper/cover combo if you're in to that sort of thing. 

Mikel San Jose - See central midfielders

Unai Nunez - Arguably has the highest potential in the defensive ranks, and now represents a fantastic first team option off the rip. He has a fantastic attribute spread and could easily slot in next to Martinez. He's an excellent option to contest for a spot with....

Yeray - After a fantastic 18/19 season, Yeray is the first choice option alongside Martinez at CB. A fantastically well rounded BPD, albeit like Martinez a touch weak in the air.  

Oscar De Marcos - The versatile player who can play almost anywhere on the pitch.. Capable both attacking and defending, De Marcos is a hard worker who not only fills the right back spot well, but can cover pretty much anywhere when required. His talents are often utilised in other areas when needed, so it's handy to have another good option at right back...

Ander Capa - Following his arrival in 18/19, Ander Capa had a mixed first campaign for Athletic. However he has settled more and more and has become a key member of the side. He is well rounded, but has excellent attacking capabilities and is best suited within a system that allows him to get further up the pitch. 

Yuri Berchiche - Former Real Sociedad left back who joined last summer from PSG. He's the best left back in the squad and can do a good job in a range of roles in that position. 

Mikel Balenziaga is a consistent, if not world class left back. He will provide a good solid option behind Yuri. 

Inigo Lekue - A very good right back who has had some promising games in the first team in recent seasons. Currently out with a long term injury, so he will come back to relevance mid way through your first season. With Capa and De Marcos, it'll be tough to find games for him, but he is a lot younger than De Marcos so worthy of consideration as a squad option.

Cristian Ganea - Barely features in his debut 18/19 season, and you may well find him in the B team at the start of the game. If either Balenziaga or Yuri picked up an injury he'd be a good back up, so I'd recommend loaning him out with a recall clause to cover that eventuality. 


Central Midfielders

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Athletic have good central midfield options which would allow a range of systems to be played depending on your preference, although only when you factor in Unai Lopez and Mikel San Jose as options in this area.

Dani Garcia - A well rounded midfielder who can play in a few different roles. Well suited to play as the more defensive option in a central midfield two/three, but can play in more of an attacking box to box role as well with his work rate and well rounded attacking attributes.

Benat - The most natural 'playmaker' amongst Athletic's midfield options. If you like a DLP he's a fantastic option for that position. However at 32 he will likely be on the decline soon, so definitely not a player to base your next few seasons around.

Mikel Vesga - A good squad option to cover a more defensive role.

Mikel San Jose - Can play as a CD and a DM naturally, while also comfortable as a CM. Given his physical attributes, while he can offer good aerial skills in the defensive line he's better deployed in a DM or CM role in my opinion (especially given the strength of Athletic's other CBs). Suits a DM role where he's not chasing down a lot, for example as an anchor man.

Outside of the above, you also have Unai Lopez who can play either CM or AM, and Oihan Sancet who is a promising youngster it would be worth looking at for first team minutes. We'll get to him in a later post.

 

Attacking Midfielders

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Athletic have fantastic strength in the attacking midfield strata. Combined with the central options above, a 4-2-3-1 becomes an obvious options, however a 4-3-3 or similar can also work well. Similarly with plenty of strength at the back, 3 at the back with wing backs is also an option.

Raul Garcia - A key player in this area, the aim is to get him scoring. While the game categorises him as being best suited to an advanced playmaker role, for me he's a natural shadow striker who is also reasonably creative, so can offer a few different role options to fit your system. He can also play as a CM or CF if needs be, so he offers an experienced, capable option who will do well for a season or two before the inevitable age decline kicks in.

Iker Muniain - Iker can play naturally either wide left, or centrally. If you like a smaller, creative AMC he's a fantastic option there. His versatility means he will also be capable on the right if needed. The teams Captain, he is Athletic through and through and while best suited to a AML role, moving him inside may suit a 4-2-3-1 and allow you to use Ibai Lopez or Cordoba out wide.

Inaki Williams is a pacey right winger with some room to develop, he is a natural fit for the right side. However, while being a natural RW, Athletic's struggles for a long term centre forward option may mean you find he is best utilised as a CF. 

Inigo Cordoba - A fantastic left wing option with potential to improve. He is quick and also has excellent off the ball movement, making him a good potential option as a striker too. I'd recommend trying out a few options up front to see what works in game. Cordoba should be considered in that.

Ibai Gomez - Resigned to Athletic after a successful spell at Alaves, Ibai has had a mixed impression back at Athletic. In and out of the team, he works hard but hasn't shown the talisman like qualities he had at Alaves. He is capable of the magnificent, and historically on FM has outperformed his attributes, so a great option to have back in the squad.  

While this team is very heavily inclined towards Muniain, Garcia and Williams being a 3 man attacking midfield unit, you don't want to overlook young Inigo Cordoba or Ibai Gomez. 

 

Strikers

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An area with some concerns and limitations certainly, which may require (as noted above) the utilization of Williams or Cordoba as a CF.

Aritz Aduriz - Age may be finally catching up with the Athletic legend. At 38 years old he is still a good option, but physically isn't as quick as he was. A very capable target man, however if you like a pacey striker you may need to look elsewhere. 

Kenan Kodro - Brought in for depth, he's failed to make an impression. His attributes are well rounded, but offering nothing special, perhaps a rotation option or cover option at best.

Asier Villalibre - Will likely start in the B team, however has good potential still, albeit hasn't quite hit the heights many expected when he was breaking records for the youth teams. For me, he's still a very well rounded striker, and given the squads issues up front, he's well worth giving game time to. As a side note, and while star ratings are not the most accurate source of information, I created 6 saves to look at the variance of player star ratings specifically for some of the youth players to help with these posts, and this screenshot above was the only when where he had 3.5 gold star potential, the others were 3 or even 2.5. Unsure if he has a variable rating or if it's just the coach reports being different, but intrigued to see how he works out for everyone. 

Gorka Guruzeta - Unfortunately out for quite a few months, but has some interesting attributes and should be included/considered for minutes when he returns. 

This is an area that you'll likely have to manage in the opening years, as options are thin on the ground within the squad. Villalibre is capable, and you may find success with Williams or Cordoba. Be sure to keep an eye out for any good youngsters appearing!

 

Edited by bowieinspace

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Recruitment

 

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

The Dream

There are a number of big name Basque players who might provide an option for the future, depending on how their careers go at their respective clubs:

Antoine Griezmann - On an extremely high wage (understatement) and a player who could fit into any starting 11...good luck getting the former Sociedad man to Athletic, but would be an absolute no brainer if he became available. Good luck...

Aymeric Laporte - Now at Manchester City and a key player in their backline. His wages are within range (just), but his availability will depend on how he gets on at Man City, definitely a chance here if he falls out of favour at City, however you're not short of quality young CB's anyway.

Cesar Azpilicueta - It will cost a lot to bring him in, but he's a player who brings immense quality, and can play anywhere across the back line. Following the additional of Yuri this year, and Azpilicueta getting a year older, signing him this year seems less important than previous years. That being said, he's so good you'd be an idiot not to have him if available. 

Ander Herrera - The now PSG midfielder may prove harder to snag on this years game, it just depends how things go for him there. If he isn't getting game time, he'll be well worth a look and has a few years left in the tank still at 29 years old.

 

Sociedad Players

These guys basically fall into their own category, because signing them can be almost impossible. However following their strong campaign last year, their squad is looking ripe with basque talent now.

Asier Illaramendi - An excellent deep lying playmaker, who at 29 has years ahead of him. 

Mikel Oyarzabal - An attacking midfielder with massive potential. Given Raul Garcia is ageing, and Unai Lopez looks likely to be a decent option at best, 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.

Ruben Pardo - Good central playmaker, probably a better version of Unai Lopez and is only 25. Transfer listed at the start of the game as well so a very good option!

Aritz Elustondo - Another good central defender option also capable of playing as a right back. 

Mikel Merino - Following his transfer to Sociedad last summer 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. He has a somewhat achievable release clause of around 40 million GBP as well worth remembered if you are able to get your budget up, but he may not want to join anyway.

Igor Zubeldia - Solid deep lying playmaker type. Young player who can be a starter/rotation option if you're able to get him in. Especially with Benat getting older with a tendency to decline, a solid playmaker like Zubeldia may be a good fit for you.

Jon Bautista - On loan at the start of the game, would offer another striker option, but he's nothing special and probably in the same category as Kodro.

Joseba Zaldua - A very capable right back who plays at a similar level to Capa and De Marcos. Worth keeping an eye on in case you are in need of someone in that role.

Luca Sangalli - A hard working, two footed box to box player. Definitely worth keeping an eye on

Aihen Munoz - Solid left back, and given Balenziaga is getting older, he could prove a handy pick up.

Robin Le Normand and Andoni Gorosabal - Two good young options at 22. Worth scouting, but you'll need to decide whether it would be worth your time with other options out there.

Ander Barrenetxea - A talented 17 year old winger, who while with some development required could be a fantastic prospect.

Kevin Rodrigues - Solid left back option and available very cheap in the first season (on loan so you won't get him until 2020 either way)

Realistically, the best chance you have of signing any Sociedad players is if they get snapped up by a big team, but then don't get game time. There are a few others less talented players who could become good options, but realistically you are likely to have better prospects through the academy at Athletic anyway.

 

Very Realistic Options for the First Two Seasons

Given Athletic's squad is largely capable, there aren't many options out there who are worth picking up at the start of the game. However Athletic have a decent transfer budget at the start of the game, so if you had a few bad injuries in pre season, the following could be potential options, or ones you need to keep an eye on.

Alvaro Odriozola - He went to Madrid last summer for around 35million euros so will be difficult to pry away from there. If he falls out of favour, a move for the young right back would be a must. 

Javi Martinez - No, not THAT Javi Martinez! There's another one at Osasuna who players as an attacking midfielder. Worth scouting. Mainly in here for the name joke

Javi Martinez - Ok, this one is THAT Javi Martinez. Injury prone (knee problems) and expensive, he presents a risk. However in previous FM's has often become available fairly quickly, and a transfer is negotiable right at the start of the game, albeit for a high fee. If you sign him, expect cruciate ligament injuries regularly, but if the club is doing well financially he could be worth the risk. Given Yeray and Unai Nunez coming through, the requirement for a defender like Martinez is lowered.

Jonathan Espericueta - The mexican with Basque nationality...you will need to set specific database options for him to be loaded into the game. A decent prospect, but worth noting due to him playing in the Mexican league. Be sure to load him up, he could be useful! I've not seen him on FM20 yet but assume he's still good. There's one or two others who may pop up in this camp so we will see who appears once the game has been played a bit more.

Stephane Ruffier - A french basque who is a goalkeeper for St Etienne. A very good player and would be worth scouting. Realistically Herrerin and Simon are fine though and it would be a shame to take minutes away from Simon

Alex Berenguer - The pacey winger at Torino - can also play in more of a wing back or full back role. Definitely worth scouting

Martin Aguirregabiria - Young 22 year old full back at Alaves. Not interested in a transfer immediately but worth scouting and keeping an eye on.

Aimar Oroz - Appears to be the best pick up at the start of a save. A talented young player from Osasuna in central midfield. Available at an affordable rate with good potential

Jon Moncayola - DLP at Osasuna. A young player with potential to be very solid indeed, has a 9 million release clause but will need some convincing to join

Iker Guarrotxena - Right winger, currently at a club in Poland. The Athletic academy graduate offers a very solid right wing option. Available early on for under 2 million, definitely worth considering

There's limited good options at the start of the game, however be careful not to waste funds unnecessarily. Javi Martinez may be an option immediately if you can negotiate a deal, however it might be worth saving your funds to try to focus on getting Odriozola from Real Madrid. It's also worth doing some scouting of players aged 18-22 in case you find some worthy of picking up for the B team/development certainly. Let me know if you find any gems worth adding here!!

 

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. The standouts initially are Nunez, Simon and Inigo Cordoba, you MUST tie these guys down with much higher clauses as soon as possible. 

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.

Edited by bowieinspace

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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, 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.

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 team with some being able to make an immediate impact. 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. 

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. 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 have also cut any very low star ratings to save space on the images.


The key players from Bilbao Athletic (B Team):

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The key players from Baskonia (C Team)

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The key players from the under 19s

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Those Immediately ready for some first team action:

Asier Villalibre - Broke records for many years in the youth team set up, but hasn't quite yet made the step up to first team level as hoped. In FM20 he is still an excellent prospect, so you'll just need to see how he comes through on your save. He's a no brainer to promote to the first team in place of Kodro.

Gaizka Larrazabal - A young right winger who has started to make first team appearances now in real life. He's a little way off a regular starting position in the team, but worth getting minutes his way.

Dani Vivian - Excellent CB prospect. Unless you are using San Jose as a CD and thus have 4 in the first team squad, getting him in the first team for training, mentoring and minutes is a good decision.

Oihan Sancet - Generally believed to be the best prospect in the current Athletic reserve teams in terms of breaking in to the first team squad. A talented central midfielder, worth getting him involved as much as you can.

Beyond these players, there are a host of youngsters who could contribute to the first team in the future, but perhaps aren't quite ready or are in positions where there's little need for them in the first team. I would recommend taking a strong look at the following in particular:

Inigo Vicente - On loan in the first season and there's no real openings for him on the left as it stands, see how he is getting on after he returns from loan.

Alejandro Ibarrondo - He doesn't look great on my screenshot, but he is a superb prospect and worth keeping an eye on. 

Kepa Uriarte - As above, not great on my screenshot but has good potential

Nico Serrano - Signed fairly recently, somewhat controversially...a talented young left winger with a lot of potential!

Alvaro Nunez - Excellent young right back

Unai Vencedor - I've not had much luck with his development in past FM's personally but others have. Good DLP!

There are a lot of prospects in the Kepa Uriarte mold who could be good depending on your specific save....Naturally there are a lot of players with variable potential, so keep an eye on your youth squads and see what you have to work with once the game is loaded up. Don't write someone off based on star rating!

 

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!

Edited by bowieinspace

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Squad Building - Thinking Ahead With the Current Squad

 

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 with Unai Simon (22) and Iago Herrerin (31), you are well set for the foreseeable future. Herrerin at 31 still has plenty of years left as a back up, but may want to move on if you're not playing him.
Potential upgrades: Kepa at Chelsea is the only real upgrade available here in the goalkeeping ranks, but his price makes it unrealistic for quite a few years at least
Potential sideways moves: While you'll want to keep Simon, Herrerin is replaceable if prefers to leave. There are a few alternatives you could look at if that happens: Oier Olazabal, Aitor Fernandez, Alvaro Fernandez, Alex Remiro (for the love of god don't do it) and Sergio Herrera are all very capable.
Youth team prospects: Jokin Ezkieta may be good enough to utilise as a back up if Herrerin moves on, so worth considering that also.

Likely players 1-2 seasons in - Hard to look past Simon as your first choice, but the back up is flexible.

Central Defenders
Starting with Inigo Martinez (28), Yeray (24) and Unai Nunez (22) you are again quite secure here and this area won't need any major overhauls any time soon.
Potential Upgrades: Laporte is pretty much it, but similarly to Kepa above, pricing makes it unrealistic for some time at least.
Sideways Moves: Not much to shout about here, but Aritz Elustondo at Sociedad is about as sideways as it gets should one of the above depart. Be cautious though, he is unlikely to want to join, so losing one of the above may lead to a hole you can't fill.
Youth team prospects: Dani Vivian is the standout here and can come in for depth immediately. Jorge Herrando at Osasuna is also well worth taking a look at.

Likely players 1-2 seasons in - No changes if you can keep your main three in place, using Vivian or Herrando for depth

Right Back
Starting with Ander Capa (27), Oscar De Marcos (30) and Inigo Lekue (26), again you are quite secure here. De Marcos will decline, but the other two can hold down this spot without issue for a few years.
Potential Upgrades: Alvaro Odriozola - if you can get him you should. Azpilicueta is out there as well, but he's older and not so realistic. 
Sideways moves: Joseba Zaldua at Sociedad is one option, but may not be available to you, similarly Andoni Gorosobel at Sociedad is much the same. Martin Aguirregabiria might be more realistic, but none of these guys are worth worrying about bringing in unless you have to.
Youth team prospects: Alvaro Nunez is worth a look, but is a few years off.

Likely players in 1-2 Seasons - Capa and Lekue

Left Back

Starting with Yuri (29) and Balenziaga (31) this is an area that will require your attention fairly quickly, although you have a little time.
Potential upgrades: There's not any specific upgrades on Yuri out there in terms of ability
Sideways moves: Kevin Rodrigues and Aihen Munoz are worth your attention. This duo are both young and can fill the spot for a good few years. Yuri has a few seasons in him, but if you can get enough money for Yuri to allow you to pay Munoz's release clause, thats a long term move well worth considering. A few other back up options out there like Saborit if you needed, but given Rodrigues is available for very little in your first season he's an obvious option if you needed.
Youth team prospects - So much empty.

Likely players in 1-2 seasons - Yuri/Munoz and Rodrigues

Central Midfield
Starting with Dani Garcia (29), Mikel San Jose (30), Benat (32) and Raul Garcia (32) here, amonst a few others such as Vesga who are depth at best shows a bit of a concern. You'll be wanting to overhaul this area fairly sharpish.
Potential Upgrades: Mikel Merino and Ander Herrera stand out (the former more so due to age), but both are pricey. Javi Martinez at Bayern also a good short term option. 
Sideways moves: Jon Moncayolo at Osasuna is a great pick up, as is AImar Oroz who can develop well. Both could be good options for season 2 and could be better than what you have at the start of the game. Ruben Pardo, Luca Sangalli and Igor Zubeldia all represent sideways moves.
Youth team prospects - Kepa Uriarte, Oihan Sancet and Peru Nolaskoain all provide good options for the future. Unai Lopez and Guruzeta perhaps also but more in the attacking positions

Likely players 1-2 seasons in: Dani Garcia, Oihan Sancet, Aimar Oroz, Peru Nolaskoain, Jon Moncayolo. Mikel Merino or Herrera if possible!!

Attacking Midfield
Starting with Iker Muniain (26), Ibai Gomez (30) and Inigo Cordoba (22) (also Inaki Williams if you prefer him as a winger) you are well set up here, especially on the left side. However the right side lacks depth and may need some consideration
Potential Upgrades: There's not really any realistic upgrades here, although Mikel Oyarzabal could be a long term target.
Sideways moves: Iker Guarrotxena could be a good short term option, and Alex Berenguer is reasonable also.
Youth team prospects - Nico Serrano needs a few years but looks very good, as does Alejandro Ibarrondo. Gaizka Larrazabal adds depth to the right side also. Inigo Vicente worth keeping an eye on for development.

Likely players 1-2 seasons in: Munian, Cordoba on the left, Williams and Larrazabal on the right. Ibai Gomez also worth retaining. In the central areas, Aimar Oroz if purchased could work well in these positions, along Guruzeta if his development is good and the young Ibarrondo.

Strikers
This has historically been the most difficult area, with Aduriz (56) still the best out and out striker at the club. Inaki Williams can also play there, as can Cordoba. 
Potential Upgrades: There's no one out there, much empty
Sideways moves: Jon Bautista perhaps, Guillermo? It's slim pickings!
Youth team prospects: Villalibre is an obvious one here! Ewan Urain could do well also but Villalibre is much closer to the first team.

Likely players 1-2 seasons in: You'll need to make something work with Williams, Villalibre and Cordoba. Other options are thin on the ground. Pray for good regens!!

Overall the main area to focus on transfer wise is the central midfield and left back areas - within these areas you can make sensible long term changes and secure your position in case regens aren't developing in those areas. We're fortunate to have some good options in game! Other areas don't require much work initially, however be on the look out for good striking options. Personally I'd recommend training Cordoba as a striker immediately.

Edited by bowieinspace

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FM20 wooo! Will be getting the guide posts up soon :) 

Edited by bowieinspace

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Excellent! I've started a saved game and just had a look around the squad, but plan to play a bit more in the next couple of weeks. Even with the losses of Susaeta and Iturraspe, the squad still looks very good. Villalibre looks good in my game and will be in the first team squad. I've left Sancet and Vivian where they are for now. I've let Ganea go, he was never going to get game time. But I'm looking forward to making a push for European football. 

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It's definitely a bit weird having the squad start without so many of the old stalwarts this year, and certainly speeds up the need for refreshing the team with some youth as a lot of the rest are also getting on now. However the first priority I think for any save with the team has to be sorting out the staff. You really don't start with many at all and some of them aren't great. The new Technical Director role is also awesome at a club like this as you can delegate all of your staff management and recruitment to him across all of the teams.

I've just finished my first season in the game, came 4th and won the cup which pleased the board. The new way youth intakes are 'previewed' about midway through the season letting you know what kind of players you'll be getting is also pretty interesting, alongside the development centre letting you know when players are ready for the first team. Best youngsters through in my first intake were a left winger, and an attacking midfielder/striker, second one especially useful.

Transfer wise, De Marcos left for China in February as he wasn't playing well with Capa and Lekue doing better than him. Balenziaga, Herrerin, Kodro and Ganea have left this summer, first two wanting to move on and the last two surplus to requirements. First summer I only bought in one player, Aimar Oroz from Pamplona who looks a tasty prospect this year, he's developed enough to make the jump up to the first team squad this year. Herrando joined from them in the January window and is now with the B-team for some playing time. This summer I've bought in Kevin Rodrigues at left back from Real San Sebastian (Sociedad). He's on loan the first season and looks a very solid backup option for Yuri and young enough at 25 at the game start to be in the squad for years. Alvaro Fernandez is also joining me as the new backup keeper to replace Herrerin.

Merino has annoyingly been transfer listed but I just don't have the cash to trigger his release clause so keeping an eye on him and hope I can swoop for him next year.

Other players to join the first team squad were Sancet in first season as midfield injuries bought him in to the fold, Larrazabal from the B-team who'll be played on the right as Aduriz has retired and Williams needs to play up-front. The most promising development though is Serrano, the new left-wing star of the U-19s at the beginning of the game. He's now rated as almost as good as Cordoba and Gomez on the left so he'll get some good playtime on the wing. 

I'm going to let Benat and Raul Garcia go when their contracts run out, neither performed brilliantly in the first season, and with my tactic being a 4-1-4-1 it doesn't suit Raul Garcia at all so best to get his hefty wages off the book. The squad at the end of the season will look something like:

GK: Simon, Fernandez

DR: Capa, Lekue

DCR: Yeray, Nunez

DCL: Martinez, San Jose

DL: Yuri, Rodrigues

DM: Vesga, Nolaskoain

MR: Gomez, Larrazabal

MCR: Dani Garcia, Sancet

MCL: Muniain, Oroz

ML: Cordoba, Serrano

STC: Williams, Villalibre

The key then is going to be seeing who will replace players as they get older as San Jose, Yuri, Dani Garcia and Gomez will all be the wrong side of 30. The fun of saves with Bilbao has always been building your team over time, and this year it's even more true as you have to start doing it straight away. 

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19 minutes ago, False 9 said:

What leagues and database options are recommend to be loaded for a Bilbao save? 

I just run the French league. There are some South American based players with Basque second nationality but I'm not going to sign them.

TBH I'm questioning whether to sign any players from other clubs and just make it a home-grown save. 

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This thread is one of the highlights every time a new FM is released.

I keep promising myself that this year will be the year when I will give a Bilbao save a shot. Maybe this year I will! :D

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on here for updates regardless. :thup:

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4 hours ago, dothestrand said:

I just run the French league. There are some South American based players with Basque second nationality but I'm not going to sign them.

TBH I'm questioning whether to sign any players from other clubs and just make it a home-grown save. 

ony of my options.. starting in iceland of lower league England or.. do a new Bilbao save but this time home-grown only.. i don't like the player scouting/search system so this could help..

And i do like a youth only challenge.  The only problem i have is that picking a team like Bilbao with good facilities etc , makes it to easy (the first 5 years, afterwards it could become really hard).

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9 hours ago, cemendur88 said:

It's definitely a bit weird having the squad start without so many of the old stalwarts this year, and certainly speeds up the need for refreshing the team with some youth as a lot of the rest are also getting on now. However the first priority I think for any save with the team has to be sorting out the staff. You really don't start with many at all and some of them aren't great. The new Technical Director role is also awesome at a club like this as you can delegate all of your staff management and recruitment to him across all of the teams.

I've just finished my first season in the game, came 4th and won the cup which pleased the board. The new way youth intakes are 'previewed' about midway through the season letting you know what kind of players you'll be getting is also pretty interesting, alongside the development centre letting you know when players are ready for the first team. Best youngsters through in my first intake were a left winger, and an attacking midfielder/striker, second one especially useful.

Transfer wise, De Marcos left for China in February as he wasn't playing well with Capa and Lekue doing better than him. Balenziaga, Herrerin, Kodro and Ganea have left this summer, first two wanting to move on and the last two surplus to requirements. First summer I only bought in one player, Aimar Oroz from Pamplona who looks a tasty prospect this year, he's developed enough to make the jump up to the first team squad this year. Herrando joined from them in the January window and is now with the B-team for some playing time. This summer I've bought in Kevin Rodrigues at left back from Real San Sebastian (Sociedad). He's on loan the first season and looks a very solid backup option for Yuri and young enough at 25 at the game start to be in the squad for years. Alvaro Fernandez is also joining me as the new backup keeper to replace Herrerin.

Merino has annoyingly been transfer listed but I just don't have the cash to trigger his release clause so keeping an eye on him and hope I can swoop for him next year.

Other players to join the first team squad were Sancet in first season as midfield injuries bought him in to the fold, Larrazabal from the B-team who'll be played on the right as Aduriz has retired and Williams needs to play up-front. The most promising development though is Serrano, the new left-wing star of the U-19s at the beginning of the game. He's now rated as almost as good as Cordoba and Gomez on the left so he'll get some good playtime on the wing. 

I'm going to let Benat and Raul Garcia go when their contracts run out, neither performed brilliantly in the first season, and with my tactic being a 4-1-4-1 it doesn't suit Raul Garcia at all so best to get his hefty wages off the book. The squad at the end of the season will look something like:

GK: Simon, Fernandez

DR: Capa, Lekue

DCR: Yeray, Nunez

DCL: Martinez, San Jose

DL: Yuri, Rodrigues

DM: Vesga, Nolaskoain

MR: Gomez, Larrazabal

MCR: Dani Garcia, Sancet

MCL: Muniain, Oroz

ML: Cordoba, Serrano

STC: Williams, Villalibre

The key then is going to be seeing who will replace players as they get older as San Jose, Yuri, Dani Garcia and Gomez will all be the wrong side of 30. The fun of saves with Bilbao has always been building your team over time, and this year it's even more true as you have to start doing it straight away. 

Could you tell us more about your tactical setup?

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Here's what I'm using, instructions modified version of the default vertical tika-taka. The CM's haven't been the most consistent so been varying them a bit, done a MEZ(S) and BBM, MEZ(A) and MEZ(S), MEZ(A) and CM(S). Still needs a little tweaking, especially the role for Muniain as he's not been the most consistent, but very consistent defensively and gives good possession numbers. Wings and striker are main source of goals.

 

a1SnTqE.png

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@cemendur88 a season in already, good effort!

Did you have any issues with players getting unhappy when loan moves were rejected? I had a few players upset that I had broken promises really soon in to my save, but I don't remember making promises. I'm guessing it's either one of the following:

1) Loan listing is now considered a promise
2) I renewed their contract and promised a loan move in the renewal without realising. The new contract screen isn't something I'm used to yet.

Any ideas?

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I've had a lot of young/B team players add an "expecting to be loaned out this season" promise in the playing time part of contract negotiations. I removed it from everyone I remembered too. I think some players got it when my HOYD negotiated a youth players contract so if you've delegated youth player contracts to him that also be playing a part.

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4 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

@cemendur88 a season in already, good effort!

Did you have any issues with players getting unhappy when loan moves were rejected? I had a few players upset that I had broken promises really soon in to my save, but I don't remember making promises. I'm guessing it's either one of the following:

1) Loan listing is now considered a promise
2) I renewed their contract and promised a loan move in the renewal without realising. The new contract screen isn't something I'm used to yet.

Any ideas?

Yeah I have. But the teams coming in for them aren't better than being in the reserve/youth sides imo. Anyway, once they get grumpy, I just offer them out and let them go on loan. 

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1 hour ago, cemendur88 said:

I've had a lot of young/B team players add an "expecting to be loaned out this season" promise in the playing time part of contract negotiations. I removed it from everyone I remembered too. I think some players got it when my HOYD negotiated a youth players contract so if you've delegated youth player contracts to him that also be playing a part.

This is it yeah. I've actually restarted my save (was only a little bit into preseason anyway) because I made that mistake with a few key youngsters without realising, now they hate me. 

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Luckily I've only had it happen with a few minor youngsters so not caused me any problems. Biggest problem I'm dealing with right now is related to a beta issue where players are getting unhappy about promises you've met but the game thinks you haven't. I promised Martinez and Williams we'd qualify for Champions Cup in second season, managed it in first and they became unhappy that I broke the promise. I've added my info to the thread on the issue but be aware this can happen at the moment as well.

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9 minutes ago, cemendur88 said:

Luckily I've only had it happen with a few minor youngsters so not caused me any problems. Biggest problem I'm dealing with right now is related to a beta issue where players are getting unhappy about promises you've met but the game thinks you haven't. I promised Martinez and Williams we'd qualify for Champions Cup in second season, managed it in first and they became unhappy that I broke the promise. I've added my info to the thread on the issue but be aware this can happen at the moment as well.

Thanks that's good to know, is it specific to promises based over a multi season period specifically?

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Unsure, seeing multiple reports in the bug reports around broken promises. A lot do seem to be related to promises around qualification but there might be others bugged at the moment.

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Should be good to do this on Touch this year too, a lot more players in the intakes.

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3 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Thanks that's good to know, is it specific to promises based over a multi season period specifically?

It seems to be broken either way. I finished in Champions League places after first season, but that didnt stop 4 players from being upset about wanting to play in the Champions League. They all got over it pretty quickly, most before the end of the transfer window. With the top guys all being on long-term contracts you might as well wait them out. 

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18 hours ago, cemendur88 said:

Here's what I'm using, instructions modified version of the default vertical tika-taka. The CM's haven't been the most consistent so been varying them a bit, done a MEZ(S) and BBM, MEZ(A) and MEZ(S), MEZ(A) and CM(S). Still needs a little tweaking, especially the role for Muniain as he's not been the most consistent, but very consistent defensively and gives good possession numbers. Wings and striker are main source of goals.

 

a1SnTqE.png

I've finally settled on a midfield paring of AP-BBM that's been working a lot better than any of the others. I've also increased the tempo of the tactic to give a bit more urgency in the box so possession numbers are dropping a little but feels worth it for the extra bit of threat we now have.

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Aupa! Trying Ahtletic for the first time this year. Ive never managed a club with a b/c team before, are young players able to move easily between them during the season? Ive moved Sancet, Villalibre and Vivian into the first team for cover but Id like them to be able to play some games for the c team or are they only registered to play in first team matches?

 

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4 hours ago, Rennlad said:

Aupa! Trying Ahtletic for the first time this year. Ive never managed a club with a b/c team before, are young players able to move easily between them during the season? Ive moved Sancet, Villalibre and Vivian into the first team for cover but Id like them to be able to play some games for the c team or are they only registered to play in first team matches?

 

Hey Rennlad, this is something I will make sure is covered in the intro posts when I have time to do the relevant dev centre/B and C team post for sure.

the C team play in an inactive league, so don’t use it for players who are valuable to you, also the level would be quite low so not worth it for decent players! The B team play in the Segunda B (which should be an active league assuming you loaded it) or regional third division in layman’s terms. That standard is reasonable and alright for some players, but you want to make it a goal to get the B team promoted to the Segunda to allow your prospects to get higher level experience without loaning them.

id recommend making those players you noted available for B team, alongside first team minutes here and there. Keep them in the first team squad for training though. However, it depends on age, if they are 19 or over on Jan 1st they have to be registered so you will need to decide whether to put them in the first team squad or B team. I can’t remember their ages off the top of my head but Villalibre is definitely over that age so you would need to choose. 

Edited by bowieinspace

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Love managing Bilbao. Must have had a save on every FM since first realising who and what Bilbao where; watching that Bilbao team (can still name it) run Alex Ferguson's United side off the pitch. 

Have loaded up a save this season. Have put up Inaki Williams for transfer list.

 

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Well 2nd season is done and to say it went well would be an understatement. We won the league! Almost went unbeaten, including memorable a memorable 5-1 away win at Real Madrid and a 4-0 home victory over Barcelona. Meant I was disappointed when our unbeaten run was ended on the last day, a heavy 3-0 away loss to Sevilla. Really surprised at how well we did as last season we lost heavily away at Madrid and Barca so think this season was more of a fluke and hoping to stay in Champions Cup contention next season.

Speaking of made it to the semi's after a hard fought win against Liverpool in 1st knockout and a tense win on penalties against Man City in the quarters. Semi first leg we won 4-3 at home v Arsenal after going 1-3 down, the teams has come back from quite a few bad positions this year. Alas first leg heroics came to nothing as lost 1-0 away and they went through on away goals. 

In the Spanish Cup made it to the final but lost 1-3 against Madrid. Was 1-0 at half time, Rodrigues got sent off first minute of 2nd half and was downhill from there. 

Transfer-wise only one noticeable change to what I intended the end of season team to be from that list before, i bought Aihen Munoz from Socieded in the January window for his release clause, £19.75m, with Yuri moving to Villareal thanks to them losing their left back to Man Utd.

The switch to AP-BBM in central midfield got me much better performances from them, but standout performer of the season was Larrazabal who made the step-up to the first team without batting an eye, providing 10 goals and 8 assists in 42 appearances across all competitions.

This summer, leading into my third season, a few more players have moved on. San Jose wanted to move on so let him go, and Gomez was into the last year of his contract so he was sold. Oscar Gil has been bought in to replace San Jose, and a youngster from my first intake, a striker, has been promoted to the first team as well. The first team squad now looks like this:

GK: Simon, Fernandez

DR: Capa, Lekue

DCR: Yeray, Nunez

DCL: Martinez, Gil

DL: Munoz, Rodrigues

DM: Vesga, Nolsakoain

MR: Williams, Larrazabal

MCR: Garcia, Sancet

MCL: Muniain, Oroz

ML: Cordoba, Serrano

STC: Villalibre, Villar (newgen)

Had been hoping to bring in Merino but not been given a large enough budget to meet his release clause. Bought in a few youngsters for the U-19s. I now have good prospects at GK, DC, DM, MC, ML and STC who will hopefully develop and come through into the first team. RB and RM are probably areas with the most worry in terms of depth/long-term, but will deal with those problems as they come. 

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One new player I wanted to point out as a transfer option is Jon Moncayola from Osasuna. For my second season, I missed out on bringing in Ruben Pardo, so I eventually brought Moncayola in to be a backup, with some potential to improve. But, once he got into my team he has been the linchpin that makes everything else work. Average attributes, but pretty good in the right places with the perfect PPMs for what I want from a DLP in my tactic. 

jonmoncayola.png

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He has looked good in my save too, think he could be someone to go for in my save with Merino still being too pricey. What's been a surprise the most to me has been the left backs that I've been able to get from Sociedad this year, Munoz and Rodrigues. Definitely feels like an improvement in options over recent years. They never showed up as being interested in transfer but scouting showed they were.

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I really like the look of Moncayola, looks to have good potential. 

im only a few games in to preseason in my save as I’ve had almost no time to play, but I’m keeping a close eye on him and Munoz to fill gaps in my squad for the future. I also like the look of Sangalli as a good CM option. 
 

ideally I’d like to get Merino but seems like it’ll take a while to get the budget together for that. I agree that there is definitely a bit more decent young depth in the basque ranks this year overall thanks to Sociedad and Osasuna mostly

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I've just started the 19-20 season with a home draw against A. Madrid and an away win against Granada (who are doing very well IRL!)

Villalibre is very good for me this season so I'm less concerned about Aduriz retiring. I've only moved Ganea out and bought Aimar Oroz. Real Sociedad have listed Pardo and Sangalli but want far more than their value for them, so I'm not interested. We have enough short term CM options. Sancet will go on loan but will be back next season. 

Barja at Osasuna is an interesting RWF but not sure he's quite good enough. Ivan Martin at Girona may be worth a look too. I tend to be tough on any players with low physicals though.

Edited by dothestrand

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I'm now into the start of my third season and no luck with Merino so far. Decided to get Moncayola and Gorosabel with my transfer budget instead. Should allow me to phase out Vesga over time and also gives me a replacement to Capa in the long-term. 

There's a few others who also seem like they could be decent shouts. Otegui and Barja at Pamplona, Martin at Villareal. Don't think any could be straight first-team starters, but decent squad options for sure.

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Well this third season is getting off to a not great start. Muniain, Williams, Capa, Yeray, Simon, Nunez and Nolaskoain all want to move to a bigger club. 4 are publicly unhappy about it, the others have been placated by promises to sell them if anyone meets their thankfully very high release clauses which is never going to happen. Going to be interesting getting a good run of form going and squad morale up with so many key players unhappy. Vesga has also decided he wants to leave and going to let him go with Moncayola now in the squad.

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2 hours ago, cemendur88 said:

Well this third season is getting off to a not great start. Muniain, Williams, Capa, Yeray, Simon, Nunez and Nolaskoain all want to move to a bigger club. 4 are publicly unhappy about it, the others have been placated by promises to sell them if anyone meets their thankfully very high release clauses which is never going to happen. Going to be interesting getting a good run of form going and squad morale up with so many key players unhappy. Vesga has also decided he wants to leave and going to let him go with Moncayola now in the squad.

Have you had any good regens come through?

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23 minutes ago, dothestrand said:

Have you had any good regens come through?

A few so far, and I've bought in some as well. I've upgraded youth facilities once already, and currently got a second upgrade in progress. Here's the best ones so far, but hoping for even better in the future.

Ander Villar - came through in first intake, developing into a really well-rounded striker who I've promoted to the first team this year.

Inigo Alonso - left midfielder not far off first team, part of first intake as well

Josu Alonso - another from first intake, taken a while to get-going in his development but looks like he could become a very solid centreback

Borja Bacaicoa - high potential right winger, stats aren't there yet but has lots of promise

The ones I've bought:

Gorka Castillo - keeper from Eibar

Borja Sanchez - also from Eibar, one of the reasons I was fine with selling Vesga as he's developing really well

Imanol Iribarren - again from Eibar, good stats already and room to develop, hoping he can help out up-front

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I am into my third season as well. Year 2 we finished on 91 pts, but a long way off of Madrid and Barca who finished on 99 & 104 a piece. Villalibre massively stepped up in year 2, scoring 33 league goals, winning league player of the year, and European Golden Boot. 

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I had a really tough decision to make after that sort of crazy season. His attributes are good, but it felt like he scored based on the system, more than his own ability. PSG came in and offered over $50M for Villalibre, potentially up to $66M, so I had to pull the trigger and move him on. Making that sale enabled us to not only bring in Merino, but Ander Herrera as well to overhaul our midfield. For season 3, Williams will move up to striker and my first big regen, Sergio Imaz, will have a chance to take over at RW. 

11-7-4.thumb.png.7f3d77cda1ea9cd44166ed4d958f8b0f.png

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13 hours ago, cemendur88 said:

A few so far, and I've bought in some as well. I've upgraded youth facilities once already, and currently got a second upgrade in progress. Here's the best ones so far, but hoping for even better in the future.

Ander Villar - came through in first intake, developing into a really well-rounded striker who I've promoted to the first team this year.

Inigo Alonso - left midfielder not far off first team, part of first intake as well

Josu Alonso - another from first intake, taken a while to get-going in his development but looks like he could become a very solid centreback

Borja Bacaicoa - high potential right winger, stats aren't there yet but has lots of promise

The ones I've bought:

Gorka Castillo - keeper from Eibar

Borja Sanchez - also from Eibar, one of the reasons I was fine with selling Vesga as he's developing really well

Imanol Iribarren - again from Eibar, good stats already and room to develop, hoping he can help out up-front

Cool, I do quite like the feature that predicts your intake. My first intake sound promising, a potential golden generation! 

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41 minutes ago, dothestrand said:

Cool, I do quite like the feature that predicts your intake. My first intake sound promising, a potential golden generation! 

Very nice! Yes the new feature giving you a preview of the intake is pretty awesome. It does tend to vary a little from what you get, but a potential golden generation is awesome. If it is true, and hopefully it is, be great to see what kind of prospects you get through.

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Right a very short update from me at the end of the first transfer window.

Out:
Kenan Kodro - Just had no place for him. I am happy using Cordoba, Williams, Villalibre and Raul Garcia up front, alongside Aduriz as another option. Cordoba is my main striker, I used him there on FM19 and he was great
Cristian Ganea - Didn't feel the need to keep him around...there's a few LB options on the market and Balenziaga is a good back up to Yuri for now
Unai Lopez - He came through my save with only 7 determination which was a shame, at 2.5 stars with potential to get to 3, I didn't really rate him. 

In:
Aimar Oroz - Obvious pick up, looking great already. He is playing B team while in the first team squad this year
Iker Guarrotxena - I almost didn't both to scout him because I know him so well from previous games, but my scouts reported on him at 3.5 stars and he has a really good attribute spread to play on the right wing, especially within my system, and has the right PPMs. He made letting Unai Lopez go a no brainer!
 

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CL football secured with a game to go; obviously Martinez, Nunez, Muniain and Williams want to leave! Good luck with that! 

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1 minute ago, dothestrand said:

CL football secured with a game to go; obviously Martinez, Nunez, Muniain and Williams want to leave! Good luck with that! 

The pace I am going out means this issue will be fixed well before I get there :D

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Approaching January window of 3rd season, just got next youth intake preview and got the "potential to be a real golden generation for the club" message, excited to see how good they are but worried how many of the positives about the intake mentions wingers and wide midfielders. This might turn out to be a very talented but very one-note intake.

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1 hour ago, cemendur88 said:

Approaching January window of 3rd season, just got next youth intake preview and got the "potential to be a real golden generation for the club" message, excited to see how good they are but worried how many of the positives about the intake mentions wingers and wide midfielders. This might turn out to be a very talented but very one-note intake.

That's exciting for sure. One thing I've ended up doing a few different times over the years with Athletic saves is moving wide midfielders or wingers back to fullback. If any of the wingers come through with 8s/9s in marking or tackling I'd consider training them to be attacking fullbacks. One of the best players on my save in FM19 was a wingback who came through the youth intake with no experience at the position. He grew to have defensive attributes around 11/12, which was ok considering he was elite going forward. 

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What's the deal with Giorgian De Arrasceata?  In previous FMs I believe he has had Basque nationality but not in the one.  Was he mistakenly listed as Basque in previous FMs?  Or mistakenly NOT in FM20?

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Just now, DominicForza said:

What's the deal with Giorgian De Arrasceata?  In previous FMs I believe he has had Basque nationality but not in the one.  Was he mistakenly listed as Basque in previous FMs?  Or mistakenly NOT in FM20?

He is of Basque descent but unsure on how many generations ago that was

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My first season is going pretty well so far, into the start of November now. Definitely using it as a bit of a squad rebuild year, and I may utilise one of my club guide posts to cover squad building/rebuilding this year. 

Herrerin will likely go this year and I'll bring in another back up
Mikel Vesga will go, likely in January
Benat and Aduriz will go at the end of their contracts
Balenziaga may go, I need to get him some games right now
Sancet, Oroz and Moncayola will be taking up rotation minutes within the first team (the latter joining in Jan). I've also got Vencedor with the first team to bulk his attrIbutes up a bit
Villalibre is in the first team but his determination is dismal on my save, so trying to improve that as much as I can
Unai Lopez is on loan and will likely leave on a buy option
Guruzeta...tbc
Lekue...need to get his fitness back up

It's fun this year!!

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Very tempted to start a Athletic save. I used to do them every edition of the game a few years ago; so much so I've had to stop myself and force myself to play a few different teams in Europe. I feel there's probably been enough time gone by to try it again, although I may wait for the official game to come out. Looks like @bowieinspace is having a lot of fun.

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8 hours ago, yellowforever said:

Very tempted to start a Athletic save. I used to do them every edition of the game a few years ago; so much so I've had to stop myself and force myself to play a few different teams in Europe. I feel there's probably been enough time gone by to try it again, although I may wait for the official game to come out. Looks like @bowieinspace is having a lot of fun.

I always do with Athletic :)

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