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Transfer windows can be make or break as a manager, and Football Manager 2023 will be no exception. While it can be an exciting time as you ponder the endless list of incredible signings you could make, it can also be an opportunity to solve some serious problems – whether you’re buying or selling. New signings can have a multitude of functions, from pleasing the fans to adding squad depth to taking your starting 11 to the next level, and finding the right player is a must. Selling players can also be of huge benefit – bringing in transfer fees that will go into the club infrastructure and transfer budget is the obvious one but freeing up some wages is a crucial action.
You may look at the current Liverpool squad and think there isn’t much work to be done, and in fairness, you could probably run a Liverpool save, make no signings or sales, and still do fairly well in the first season or two. However, if you are looking to build something unique and put your own identity into future success, some changes can be made – including new arrivals and some departures. This two-part article will provide guidance to manoeuvring the inaugural transfer market of our reign as Liverpool manager. Using FM22, we will look at which players we will look to sell in FM23 – we recently produced a squad assessment of Liverpool which highlighted some areas to improve which you can read here. In part one of this article, we will go through some general tips for selling players before identifying the players I would look to sell in FM23.
As mentioned, there are some areas that you may look at altering/boosting in the Liverpool squad. There are players in the squad that possess good quality but aren’t likely to be a regular starter – this would usually be ideal for squad rotation, etc, but there are some players who fall into that category who are on wages that are far too high and could bring in a sizable transfer fee.
One thing to be mindful of, however, is listing too many players for transfer. Doing so could unsettle the rest of the squad who may cite a number of reasons: they may feel the listed player has been treated unfairly, or they may feel like there is too much change going on at the club that could jeopardise their position. The last thing you want to do by selling players is to create a division between you and your squad in terms of happiness and mentality, as this will cause issues further into the save when it comes to contract renewals, promises to players, etc.
It is also important to utilise the loan market where it’s ideal. Players with good potential between 18-21 who aren’t yet ready for first-team football will benefit hugely from a loan move at the right level. However, it is difficult to yet gauge which players will fall into this category until we see the CA/PA ratings of the squad in FM23. Be sure to add a recall clause in the loan contract if you think you’ll need the player later in the season. Loaning players out can also be a good way to get rid of senior players who you are struggling to sell permanently. By offering them for loan, other clubs may see it as a move that holds less risk, but they may also be more open to including a future selling clause. However, if you take this route, be sure to demand the club in question pays at least most of the player’s wages, otherwise, it defeats the point if you let him go but continue to pay his wages.
On the subject of difficulty in off-loading players, it can be very frustrating at times when you cannot seem to sell a player, especially when another club has shown interest. Worry not, as there is a way around this that encourages the club to follow up on that interest.
As we can see in the shot above, PSG have shown minor interest in Joe Gomez, but have yet to escalate that interest or make an offer. To speed things up, we can entice the French club by directly offering Gomez’s services to them. To access this, hit the ‘transfer’ drop-down box and then ‘offer to clubs’ – you will be taken to a page where you can set his fee and instructions, etc.
Initially, when you enter this screen, it will be under the ‘details’ tab (see underneath ‘current offer’) – you need to click ‘targets’ to find the access that allows offering a player to a specific target. There are multiple options which allow you to target clubs in certain leagues or nations, but we can also target specific clubs. On the right side of the shot above where it says ‘clubs to propose to’, click ‘add’ – here you will enter the club you wish to target: in this case it was obviously PSG. Once you have completed these steps and added PSG to the list, make sure to confirm it. This will send a notification to PSG officials directly, making them aware of Gomez’s availability.
With the Liverpool squad being as strong as it is, there isn’t really any major weak areas that need urgent attention. Instead, there are a number of areas that could be improved slightly – this segment will look at the player I would look at shipping out in FM23 with the reasons why. Hint – it isn’t all about bringing money into the club.
Here’s the first one. Yes, Adrián has been more than decent as a backup keeper for Liverpool over the years, but maybe now is the time we look to upgrade in that department. After all, the Spaniard is earning £60k a week and is only likely to decline in terms of ability. His CA is two stars in FM22, which is the same as 22-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher, who earns much less and has room for development yet. Furthermore, at 35 years of age, Adrián could still have a couple of good years as a first-choice keeper elsewhere – his report above states that he would be a leading goalkeeper for most Championship teams.
This next one may raise a few eyebrows as Joe Gomez does bring a level of quality in FM22 but bringing in a higher-quality CB partner for Virgil van Dijk is an option I would like to explore. As we can see from the squad comparison in the shot above, van Dijk’s CA is 4.5 stars, an exceptional rating – we have to accept that we are unlikely to sign somebody who is already at that level, but the aim would be to bring in somebody who is around the 3.5-4-star region.
It then becomes a toss-up between Joel Matip and Joe Gomez in terms of who will stay and who will leave. Choosing Matip as the one to stay is not a financial decision as he earns more than Gomez and has a far higher transfer value in FM22. No, I simply prefer Matip as I believe he is the stronger, more reliable defender – and in fairness, his CA could be slightly higher in FM23 due to his consistency over the last year or so.
Gomez has a transfer fee of £30m and earns £85k per week, both figures could be put into greater use than a backup CB.
A player who has shown glimpses of greatness in a red shirt is Naby Keïta. At 26 years of age, he should be entering the prime years of his career, but his career has been blighted with injuries – especially since his arrival at Anfield. My belief is that if he stayed fit and was not injury-prone, Keïta starts for Liverpool the majority of the time. However, we cannot overlook the fact that we will likely face a portion of the season without him when he inevitably picks up an injury, so this is a case of cashing in while we can and picking up a new midfielder who doesn’t have that injury-prone trait.
In Keïta’s defence, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain falls into a similar bracket, but selling both players would leave us in danger of lacking depth in midfield. I also believe Oxlade-Chamberlain has something to offer for another season or two and is slightly less injury prone than Keïta. Keïta had a transfer value of £40m-£50m and earns £130k per week – incredible sums of money that could be used to chase a top target.
However, if you were adamant about selling both players, there is a strategy to achieve this without leaving your squad vulnerable. Simply sell one in the first transfer window and be sure to sign a replacement. In the next window, sell the other midfielder – if you have faith in the squad depth between January and May, there is no need to sign another replacement, but looking to sign someone on a pre-contract deal to bring in for next season would be a smart move.
How you navigate a transfer window is largely down to personal philosophy. You may not want to make many changes in a quick time scale, or you may have a vision in mind which requires some players to leave. Knowing who to sell is one thing, but you need to be able to dominate the negotiations – be in charge of selling your players so you can get the fee/outcome you desire. Selling players is always a risk, but it is essential to ensure that you have the depth in all positions and that if you are selling a player in an area that lacks depth, you have a replacement ready to pursue.