Now that we know Football Manager 2022 will debut on November 9th, it’s time to start planning for your next save. Today we continue our series of FM22 save ideas by looking at the top 5 ultimate Football Manager 2022 youth development saves.
Last week, we gave you a list of teams to manage in FM22 focused on pioneering clubs or clubs that should be restored to their former glory but today we focus our attention to one of the most rewarding challenges in Football Manager; the mission to develop a title contender out of players coming through the club’s Academy.
- Football Manager 2022 Teams to Manage; Restore the glory and pioneering clubs
- 11 Reasons Why Your Players Won’t Develop in Football Manager
- Potential Football Manager 2022 Wonderkids & Next Generation Talents Born 2005-2006
- Football Manager 2022 Features WE want [Video on Passion4FM Youtube]
- Youth Intake – An In-depth Guide on How Clubs Produce Newgens
Why a Youth Development Challenge can improve your motivation for a long-term save?
I guess we have all been in the situation where the enjoyment for your Football Manager save decreases with the number of seasons you’re in. Having a clear philosophy and plan behind your save could increase the motivation and excitement to keep playing the save. Whether you’re one who enjoys starting at the bottom of the pyramid and work your way to the top, or one who needs strict rules which you need to abid to in order for keeping the save challenging enough to enjoy it.
It’s in the aspect of the challenge, a youth development save comes in. Let’s take a closer look at why a youth development saves could be something for you, before we hand you 5 teams we recommend for a great youth development save in FM22.
Instead of spending money on signing middle age players at the heights of their career, all the club’s resources and your effort will go to getting as much out of your junior talents as possible. It means investments into the training facilities, backroom staff, and its youth coaches, are prioritized along with emphasizing your attention to details when planning training activities.
When starting a youth development save, all short-term goals of winning trophies will be set aside by focusing on the long-term prerequisites for the club to remain successful for the long-term. The overall objective of being financially sustainable is one of the main reasons the club’s abid to a youth development vision.
There are mainly three benefits by developing players coming through the Academy
- The overall cost of developing a player is severly lower than if you needed to sign ‘the similar’ player. Lower wage demands, agent fees and clauses will make the return of the investment larger if you one day should sell the player.
- Recruiting players comes with a risk no matter how much you scout the player. Will he fit into the club, your tactics and adapt to the new circumstances? Players coming through the Academy knows the club in and out. They know the club philosophy and the tactical system.
- The club DNA and your training philosophy also ensures that you get players that perfectly fit your tactics as you have monitored their progress from a young age and focused on parts of their play that’s essential for your club’s playing style. It means you could look within your own club if you need a new attacking midfielder to play in the Shadow Striker role instead of spending €60Mill for a player that needs time to adapt to your spezialized system.
Over the years, more and more clubs, who can not compete in today’s transfer market have surrendered to youth development in order to increase their competitiveness. It might be a financial reason for this as they have understood that their place in the hierarchy is to develop players for the bigger clubs by using their limited resources for the long-term prospect of gaining money on selling their best youth talents to other clubs around them, whether they are at a similar competition level within the same nation or to clubs abroad.
Personally, there’s nothing as satisfying as developing players in Football Manager that becomes one of the best players within the nation. The time and effort going to carefully attend players’ training on a monthly basis, and seeing the player progress from an average youngster to him getting his first international match debut a few years later, is nothing but satisfying.
If this sounds like the perfect challenge for your next Football Manager 2022 save, here are a few clubs that have specialized in youth development and which you can have fun with when developing your own wonderkids in FM22!
NAC Breda – Dutch Keuken Kampioen Divisie
Competing against the “Big Three” in the Netherlands is no easy task, whether it’s developing the best talents in the Netherlands or hunting trophies, but managing in the Netherlands can definitely be a great challenge!
AFC Ajax was voted as the best youth academy in the world in 2019. Feyenoord has won the Rinus Michels award which goes to the best youth club in the Netherlands on five occasions, while PSV is renowned for its superb scouting network and ability to develop players.
In the southern part of The Netherlands, close to the border of Belgium, we find the vibrant city of Breda and its club NAC Breda. The club was founded 109 years ago and despite its long history, the trophy cabinet is fairly abysmal with only two major trophies in the cabinet. The first and only National championship came 100(!) years ago! The second trophy?
Meanwhile, AFC Ajax lifted their second consecutive European Cup trophy, NAC Breda won their first and only KNVB Cup trophy in 1972-73, where they beat Ajax on penalties in the second round.
For the last 7 years, the club has been a first division club regular, despite a short two-season stint in the Eredivisie (2017-2019) but prior to 2015, they competed 10 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
Now you might be thinking, since they haven’t the best competitive records, the club might be more successful developing youth. Compared to Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord, Groningen, AZ and Heerenveen, the club is a few steps behind the best. Apart from Nemanja Gudelj and Oussama Idrissi, there are few who have gone on to play in one of the top 5 leagues in Europe or play for the national team.
In fact, clubs like Ajax, Feyenoord and Anderlecht have been quick to poach their best talents early on. In fact, this happened with both Oualid Agougil and Ilyas el Moussaoui – two potential FM22 wonderkids, as they were poached at the age of 14 and 13.
The truth is that this won’t be the ordinary youth development save where you can immediately develop rising stars and compete with the top clubs of the Netherlands. Instead, the young yellow army needs a total rebuild in Football Manager 2022. Your mission is to establish a football philosophy revolving around youth development. You need to upgrade the average youth training facilities, create a scouting network that enables you to increase the pool of available talents as well as setting a strict recruitment policy when signing players and staff.
Gone are the days where the club needs to release players on a free that could have become club legends. Instead, I want you to copy the vision of Anderlecht, Ajax, FC Nordsjælland or Chelsea. With the affiliate link with Man City diminished, one of your first tasks would be to link the club to a network of clubs by finding valuable parent and feeder clubs, which you can loan under-21 players from.
The mission to turn NAC Breda into a youth development club, which is mentioned in the same breath as Ajax, Anderlecht, FC Nordsjælland or Benfica will take years to complete but it will be even more rewarding when you see the Dutch National team call up a handful of your rising stars, or you lift the Dutch championship with a team based on players you’ve developed from a young age.
If we consider the location of the city the club is based in, the province of Noord-Brabant got a population of 2.5mill. It’s only 30min drive away from Tilburg, where Willem II is located, 40 minutes away from Rotterdam and approximately 50 minutes between Breda and Antwerpen in Belgium – meaning you should be able to acquire newgens that doesn’t make the cut for the bigger clubs close to your location.
Your solution to building a team of youth could go to poaching juniors that don’t get a professional contract. You need to act fast by monitoring the youth intake of the bigger clubs around you and try the traditional ‘Approach to Sign’ method. This will help you until the training facilities and youth facilities are at a level which improves the likeliness of getting quality newgens from the annual youth intake.
AS Trencin – Slovak Fortuna Liga
Only 20km from the Czech border, along the river Váh we find the beautiful town of Trencin. ‘Protected’ by the Castle of Trencin which dates back to the 11th Century and is surrounded by the Strázov Mountains and parts of the Western Carpathians, Trencin hosts both great architecture and artifacts of historical significance dating back to the Roman Empire 2000 years ago.
In one of the oldest cities in Slovakia, in close proximity to Bratislava, Brno and Zilina we find one of the youngest football clubs in Europe; AS Trencin. Despite the club was founded in its current name only 29 years ago, the club has been renamed several times and continues traditions, belonging and passion dating back to 1904 when the original football club of the city, Trenčín Torna Egyesület was established.
AS Trencin is one of the youngest football teams in Europe at the moment. With a squad average age of 22.5, only beaten by MSK Zilina in Slovakia, we’re starting to see the fruits from the clubs €1,4Mill investment in the training grounds and youth facilities in 2017 – something that gave birth to the «This is my Dream Academy».
Read More | The story of MŠK Žilina: A club back from the COVID-19 brink by FirstTimeFinish
Despite a new name to the Trencin Youth Academy, the club is no stranger to developing players. Considered to be one of the most successful Slovakian youth academies, the club’s scouting program, unique recruitment philosophy, and contact network made available by Dutch owner Tschen La Ling, have seen the club becoming a Slovakian youth development powerhouse.
This is the significance of this club. This is a way to gain money. Players must know that they have the opportunity to move forward and Trenčín does not have to be the final destination for them.”Róbert Rybníček, General Manager – AS Trencin
Their affiliation with AFC Ajax and Inter Bratislava along with prioritizing their scouting network to identify talents in Africa, Netherlands and South America has made them into a stepping stone club for a number of foreign under-21 players, who now plays in one of the top 10 European leagues. Since 2015, they have sold players for nearly €15Mill whilst most signings are made from free transfers or a small development fee. Wesley, Moses Simon, Leon Bailey, Ibrahim Rabiu, Matus Bero, Hilary Gong and the latest Osman Bukari are just a few African or Brazilian players who have been sold to bigger clubs … in mainly Belgium or Holland).
These transfers have been made possible because of the cooperations La Ling has established throughout the world with his football academies in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Brazil and Argentina.
The Trencin Youth Academy does not only develops cheap foreign talents of African or South American descent. For years, they have filled the National squad and the home leagues with players coming through the Trencin conveyer belt. One of these players is Stanislav Lobotka, a local Trencin kid, who used a loan move to Ajax and a transfer to FC Nordsjælland to gain reputation and experience to get noticed by bigger clubs. The rest is what you’ll call a success story as Celta Vigo bought him for €5Mill in the summer of 2017 and sold him to Napoli for €20Mill last season.
Another player who has gone on to represent the Slovakian National team is former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel.
Trencin’s youth facilities and network enable you to simply build upon the club’s foundation to produce the next Marek Hamsik and fill the European leagues with Slovakian internationals. At least, that should be your mission when starting an FM22 Trencin save.
FC Nordsjælland – Danish Superliga
A club that has had success with a similar transfer policy and youth development vision is the Danish Superliga club FC Nordsjælland. Their reputation as a club that takes care of their talents, and their network, has been the reason why the club has attracted a number of great talents. It was the case with FM22 wonderkid Andreas Schjelderup who have taken the Danish league by storm. The Norwegian midfielder has been on the books for some of the biggest clubs in Europe. He trialed out for Ajax in 2015 and visited Bayern München, Juventus and Tottenham before making the surprising move to use the renowned FC Nordsjælland Academy to use them as a stepping stone club for his career.
The Danish club was bought by Right to Dream in 2016. With the former Man Utd scout, Tom Vernon as chairmen of FC Nordsjælland and the man behind the Right to Dream project in Ghana, the partnership between Denmark and Ghana has become one of football’s success stories. Not only in terms of the vast number of Ghanian international players they have developed, but the focus on developing individual characters as role models instead of only focusing on necessary on-pitch skills.
FC Nordsjælland is currently topping the chart as the youngest football club in Europe with an average age of 20.7. The first team squad is made up of nearly 40% African under-21 talents – mainly from Ghana and Ivory Coast, in addition to a few talents from Scandinavian neighbors.
In the last three seasons, the club has sold players for nearly €40Mill. The sale of Kamaldeen Sulemana to Rennes (€15Mill), Mohammed Kudus to Ajax (€9Mill) and Andreas Skov Olsen to Bologna (€6Mill) have made them into one of the leading youth development clubs in Europe. By taking advantage of their scouting network and keeping firm to their transfer policy of signing under-18 players, the club has become a pioneering club in investing in young football talents.
When FCN was founded in 2003, the club’s first mission was to reinforce the status of the club within the region. 66 local clubs from the surrounding area joined together into a cooperative network called Fodbold Samarbejde Nordsjælland (FSN).
Its founding mission is to highlight local talents from the region and bring them through to National and international attention via FC Nordsjælland. Now it’s only 24 Danish affiliated clubs left, according to FCN.dk, but all are based in the north-east of Zealand with Farum BK, the mother club of FCN, the club that hosts weekly training sessions for significant talents in the region.
Mathias Jensen, Emiliano Marcondes and Emre Mor are just a few Danish players who have laid the path for other Danish talents to make the step from the FCN Academy.
The future is definitely looking bright!
Your mission in FM22 would be to continue building upon the existing foundation to turn FC Nordsjælland into a youth development powerhouse that surpasses the fame of La Masia by seeing the complete Danish National team filled with former FCN Academy players.
You will have a strong coaching staff at your disposal. With the ability to work with former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien together with excellent training facilities, it’s time to develop the next Ballon D’Or winner coming from FC Nordsjælland in FM22.
Envigado – Colombian Liga BetPlay DIMAYOR
If developing the next Ballon D’Or winner in Denmark might sound too difficult, why not look to South America and the nation of Colombia?! While there has been lots of instability and unrest in the nation throughout the last 40 years, Envigado Fútbol Club is an established producer of some of the best Colombian football players. Despite the club’s squad value ranks among the bottom 20 in the Colombian premier division, Cantera de Héroes tops the chart with the youngest average squad (23.4).
Since being founded in 1989, the club has done a remarkable job by producing world-class Colombian players, and some would say it’s among the top 10 youth academies in South America.
Players like James Rodriguez, Fredy Guarin, Jhon Cordoba and Juan Fernando Quintero have come through their youth academy and later on made a huge impact in European football. They have frequently produced Colombian national team players. The latest wonderkid coming through their ranks is Jhon Durán (17), who was signed by Chicago Fire in January 2021 with the move being finalized at the start of 2022.
In conjunction with Deportivo de Cali, the Orange Team (El Equipo Naranja), as Envigado are nicknamed, got superb youth facilities and exceptional youth recruitment. The only upgrade needed, is their training facilities which will turn them into one of the leading youth Academy clubs in worldwide.
Managing Envigado in Football Manager 2022 in a youth development save might be one of the easier challenges to do, but what’s important to clarify is that despite their great records producing players and settling in the top division since 1992, Envigado has for some reason never managed to win a trophy. Your objective with an Envigado save will be two-fold;
- Continue to develop Colombian internationals with the ultimate goal to produce the best footballer the world has ever seen. Could you replicate the feats by producing the next Lionel Messi, or a similar player as Cristiano Ronaldo? Could you turn Colombia into one of the leading Nations in the world by winning the World Cup at a regular basis?
- Turn Envigado into the best club in the nation by first and foremost lifting the Colombian championship trophy for the first time in the club’s 32 year long history, and then look to the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana.
Parma Calcio 1913 – Italian Serie B
When Parma lifted the UEFA Cup trophy in 1998-99 it was the icing on the cake for a heroic team that had gone on to win three major trophies and people’s hearts since 1992 when they won the Coppa Italia. In the following ten years, the trophy cabinet was filled by 2 UEFA Cup trophies (1994-95 and 1998-99), 3x Coppa Italia (1991-92, 1998-99, 2001-02), a European Cup Winner’s Cup trophy in 1992-93, as well as a runner up in the tournament the year after and a European Super Cup trophy in 1993.
With eight trophies in 10 years, The Crusaders (I Crociati) achieved their best Serie A record ever by finishing on the runner-up in 1996-97.
By using a 3-4-1-2 formation featuring a striker duo in Hernán Crespo and Enrico Chiesa, Parma in the ’90s could be compared to today’s Liverpool or Bayern Munich by having one of the best line-ups in Europe. The Parma squad featured mostly ‘high-profile’ signings that cost a lot according to the transfer market prices those days.
Fabio Cannavaro, Dino Baggio, Lilian Thuram, Hernán Crespo, Faustino Asprilla, Juan Sebastián Verón, Diego Fuser and Márcio Amoroso was signed. In total, the club spend over €200Mill in the 5 years after winning their second UEFA Cup.
From the Parma Academy, the only player I can recall getting first-team football in that period was Gianluigi Buffon.
The golden period would soon end. By 2003, the club owner was charged with financial fraud, known as the Parmalat scandal. By 2007, the club went bankrupt and had to start all over in Serie D. Now, Parma is back in Serie B after three seasons in Serie A – climbing from the fourth level to first in five seasons. Finding themselves on the same level as the year before their golden era started, it’s the perfect opportunity to take on Parma in Football Manager 2022 and restore the glory by focusing on youth development and youth signings instead of splashing the cash on high-profile signings.
With a transfer policy of signing under-21 talents you could copy some of the visions used in their golden era;
signing talents from Italy, Argentine and France.
You could set up a scouting network that looks to identify cheap wonderkids and young talents who have yet to breakthrough for the first team. Perhaps they have stagnated on reserves or Under-21 level, or perhaps they got unfulfilled potential and can get a second chance at Parma.
Regardless of how you set up your scouting network, the objective with a Parma youth development save in Football Manager 2022 must be to win the Serie A for the first time in the club’s history, as well as adding a Champions League trophy to the cabinet. Competing against Juventus, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan might be a tough challenge, but I’m sure the club facilities can help produce some great newgens coming through the ranks in the coming 10 years.
Set up a 3-4-1-2 formation and hunt for the next Hernan Crespo in Football Manager 2022 to restore the glory of Parma using youth only!
Charlton Athletic FC – Sky Bet League One
For some of us, it’s become a tradition to manage in the English football leagues at one point within the FM cycle. For Football Manager, our attention moves to Charlton Athletic. Charlton’s only trophy is winning the FA Cup 1946-47.
The club based in South London hasn’t been in the Premier League since 2007. Their greatest era came under Alan Curbishley who led the club to their first Premier League spell – a journey that ended in 2007. Curbishley’s managerial period went over two spells and he eventually ended his Charlton career with 729 games managed for the Addicks.
Since being relegated from the Premier Division, the club has moved down the tiers and now finds itself at level 3 in the English pyramid. But the future is looking more promising than ever before. With Danish businessman Thomas Sandgaard completing a takeover in September 2020, the financial issues revolving around not owning their own stadium, the Valley, have affected the club since the 90s.
Regardless, the club has done a remarkable job developing its own talents. Both Joe Gomez, Ezri Konza, Jonjo Shelvey, Ademola Lookman and Jermain Defoe are players that have come through the Charlton Academy. In addition, they have produced a great number of players at Championship or League One level with their average to good training and youth facilities.
Now it’s your task to turn Charlton into a youth Academy club to be reckoned with, whilst moving the club up the ladder.
Taking the club to their first appearance in the Champions League or Europa League would be an as magnificent achievement as developing the best striker ever in England. That means, turning a future Charlton Academy player into England’s top all-time leading goalscorer by surpassing Wayne Rooney’s 53 goals.
The vision for the youth Academy could be to put attention on developing forwards with some specific traits or midfielders in a specific mold. You might prioritize certain attributes that require you to sign specific coaches who specialize in an area. Here you can look to Mikaelinho’s take on youth development where he tried to develop the next Neymar.
- Schalke 04 – German 2. Bundesliga
- Hajduk Split – Croatian Prva Liga
- AS Monaco – French Ligue 1
- Racing Santander – Spanish Primera División RFEF
- Le Havre AC – French Ligue 2
- Club Atlético Belgrano – Argentine Primera Nacional B
- Malaga – Spanish La Liga 2
- Litex Lovech – Bulgarian Vtora Liga