In keeping with my new blogging style that is in no way directly inspired by the excellent @IlmedianoFM who you can find here. This is the latest in a series of smaller, sharper blogs aimed at keeping you up to date with my save. This time we’ll look at our transfers prior to the start of my second season with Ajax.
So here we are. Still celebrating what I consider to be a successful first season in charge at Ajax. I thought I would get a chance to build upon the squad that I had developed any perhaps add one or two pieces that would enable us to make the step to European contenders.
Unfortunately the AI and the Football Manager gods had other ideas.
Well, that escalated quickly. I had resigned myself early to allowing both Anwar El Ghazi and Viktor Fischer to leave the club. El Ghazi had been excellent in my first season but as I alluded to in my end of season round up I just don’t like the player. I still managed to drive a competitive price though and eventually Dortmund agreed to pay £16.25M upfront. On looking back now his value has regressed to a more realistic £11M. I think that this represents a good deal for us.
Viktor Fischer was the subject or several derisory bids as soon as the window opened with the likes of European champions Juventus chasing him. In the end though Napoli stumped up the £10.25M that it took to trigger a release clause in his contract and the Danish international was off to Southern Italy.
Neither of those sales really concerned me. Although both were effective in the wide midfield positions their sales allow me to concentrate on the likes of Nunnely, Dekker and Cerny all receiving more playing minutes to aid their development.
Next up was our consistent halfback Nemanja Gudelj who joined Fischer in making the long trek to Southern Italy eventually joining Lazio for a cool £16M. I had no plans whatsoever to allow the Serbian international to leave but a fee that high that would be paid up front was too good to turn down. I have absolutely no idea why these Italian teams suddenly have money to burn.
As with the first two though at least the transfer of Gudelj will allow Van De Beek to play more often.
Once again though we were not finished there.
Another player that I had no intention of selling was Dutch wonderkid Jairo Riedewald. Atletico Madrid started the bidding at £5M and despite the player starting to agitate for a move I was determined to keep him until they met his valuation. Luckily the Spanish giants capitulated first and off he wandered to the Spanish capital for £13.75M plus some fairly hefty add on clauses.
Next came the sale of European golden boot winner Arkadiusz Milik for a frankly disgraceful £7M. This was the problem with my interest dropping half way through the first season. I failed to check player contracts properly and Milik was left with a £7M release clause. I attempted to negotiate a new deal with him but he refused to even consider a contract without a clause allowing him to leave Amsterdam. I can replace 40 goals a season though, right?
The last major transfer was possibly the one that stung the most. I had signed Hakim Ziyech from FC Twente and he had developed a great partnership with those around him. The usual suspects of Dortmund and Atletico were involved in the discussion but eventually they were blown out of the water by English side Liverpool who paid £17.5M with add ons.
That is one of the most painful summers that I’ve ever had on football manager but at least it all left us in a good position financially.
Our balance is now extremely healthy and has breached the £100M mark. Considering the fact that we will not be paying exorbitant transfer fees for foreign players this means that we should be well set up for years to come.
Here are out incoming players, all of whom have been signed from domestic rivals. Vlaar, ter Avest and Ayoub all join the first team squad with the others joining at the behest of our new head of youth development (more on that in a later post).
Ron Vlaar left Az Alkmaar on a free transfer at the end of the season. I saw the opportunity to sign an experienced squad player who would also double as an effective tutor for the younget players in the squad.
As you can see Vlaar has seen his valuation shoot back up to £2.8M which suggests he still has some life left in him.
We’re obviously not going to see Vlaar develop but he should be a steady influence for the next couple of seasons.
Hidde ter Avest
My most expensive signing of the season having joined from FC Twente for £7.5M. Twente were unwilling to lose their vice captain given that he was a product of their own academy hence the inflated price tag.
I know that ter Avest can develop very well within the game though and I’m hoping that exposure to first team football will hasten that development. He will start on a simple ball playing defender training plan to see how his attributes develop in the first instance.
Ayoub is a player that I was chasing for the second half of the first season. He has the potential to develop in to a star player and he fits my system like a glove.
In true domestic superclub style his signing also weakens the FC Utrecht side that were a thorn in my side last season.
Ayoub will in the first instance slot in to the halfback position that was vacated by Gudelj moving to Lazio. He has the capacity to play in one of the more advanced roles as well and should provide some interesting tactical flexibility.
The oldest looking 16 year old I’ve even seen. I’m sure that our legal department thoroughly scrutinised the youngsters passport before confirming the deal.
Alex moves in to the youth team as a slightly undersized centre back with interesting development potential. He has a good base to build on and his acceleration should enable him to develop in to one of our wide defenders.
His personality is already favourable so I can concentrate immediately on developing his attributes through training.
Nazario De Fretes
Signed at the behest of my head of youth development from Sparta Rotterdam for a very reasonable £450k. Ideally I can see De Fretes developing in to a Bazoer lite that can run all day and perform the box to box midfield role for me.
His balanced personality gives me the option to have him tutored to better fit with the profile of my squad. For now though he will enjoy a box to box midfield training schedule and his development will be closely monitored.
All of those deals leave my first team squad looking something like this;
As you can see we have an extremely young first team squad with Cillessen and Viergever the only players that are 27 or older. The former is not a concern as goalkeepers can continue to perform well in to their thirties.
I’m also happy with the range of personalities in the squad. I don’t have any players who will rock the boat and cause unnecessary grief.
Whether we can repeat the success of our first season after such a mass exodus remains to be seen. My next post will be a run down of the first half of the coming season, assuming I’m not sacked yet.
Thanks for reading.