• David Hammel

Top 10 Index Wonderkids: Football Manager Simulation

Can a computer game help us identify the stars of the future and help us become more informed and therefore better traders?

Football Manager is now in it’s 28th year if you include the Championship Manager series. A game that has been cited in divorce cases. Blamed for failed University Degrees and has been used by Sky Sports News when assessing players in their evening transfer talk section.

Personally, I have used it to buy players during my 2 years on the index. I don’t have the time or the patience to watch Portuguese football or the Copa Sudamericana. Football Index does rely heavily on statistics so can you become a better trader by relying on others? After all 1300 scouts are used worldwide to make the player data as accurate as possible.

Football Manager 2020 begins in the summer of 2019 so I have simulated 6 full seasons to September 2025 to see how our favourite wonderkids (aged 21 or below) have progressed.I used a data update pre-transfer window so player attributes were unofficially updated. This article focuses on the current top 10 most expensive wonderkids on the Index.

Jadon Sancho (Price £14.70/£14.11)

The current King of the Index has been trading approximately 50% higher than the next most expensive player. He has been earning plenty of dividends this summer but what does a simulated future hold?

Initially, I would guess disappointment. The much anticipated transfer to Manchester United does not happen and he ends up back in London with the team he supports which is Chelsea. The fee paid is £97m.

However, his performances on the pitch in the next 5 seasons suggest he is a strong PB hold with plenty of appearances with consistent goals and assists and player of the match performances. If he can replicate this form in real life he will probably justify that buy price.

He has 7 goals in 48 caps for England.

Kylian Mbappe (Price £10.16/£9.76)

Mbappe has overtaken Neymar’s price recently as future career earnings have started to weight more heavily in traders decision making and he is 7 years Neymar’s junior. In real life his PB does not justify the price tag so traders are buying into the future and possibly a transfer to a higher profile team than PSG.

Again, that predicted future transfer does not materialise in the simulation. Mbappe is still at PSG and is scoring and assisting for fun. With the potential for future dividend increases and the widening of media to European outlets this means he should be a solid hold at this current price tag.

He has 49 goals in 104 caps at the age of 26!

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Price £9.71/£9.23)

By far the most expensive defender on the Index but his performances over the last 2 seasons justify it. It is no surprise to see Trent still at his boyhood club. However, the simulation is not as kind to Trent with far too few goals and assists. It would be hard to justify his current price tag if that simulated performance materializes in real life.

Mason Greenwood (£9.36/£8.11)

The newest kid on the block with his performances and extended run in the team since the resumption of football post lockdown. He is clearly a natural finisher but will his PB game develop in the coming seasons to repay his hefty price tag with dividends?

Again, no surprise to see him remaining at Manchester United. His scoring record is ok without being stunning. If he was to win star man 4 times per season based on his player of the match stats then he probably just about justifies his current price tag.

Erling Haaland (£7.71/£7.03)

Haaland has provided plenty of debate in 2020 since his successful transfer to Dortmund. Is he a world class striker in the making or a bit of a PB donkey? For Index holders it will be interesting to see how he performs when the Bundesliga recommences next month.

The FM20 simulation is probably disappointing for holders as there is no move to the Premier League. He actually stays at Dortmund for a further 4 seasons but he does perform very well on the pitch leading to a £99m move to Barcelona in 2024 where he continues to perform at the top level.

Plenty of Player of the Match awards so he could win PB otherwise he is a very expensive IPD flip.

Phil Foden (£7.67/£6.75)

The simulation has not been as kind to Phil Foden who doesn’t really perform in the next 2 seasons at Manchester City although he consistently achieves 5 goals and 5 assists per season in that time.

Barcelona take him to the Nou Camp for £78m in 2022 which seems to be a catalyst for his best performing season scoring 14 and assisting 6 in 2022/23. The following 2 seasons see less appearances and a lot less goal involvement. This may be due to Havertz moving to Barcelona the following summer.

He would unlikely be at his current price level based on the transfer abroad but I am sure that move to Barcelona would generate plenty of interest.

Kai Havertz (£6.19/£5.42)

In real life he has performed really well for Leverkusen which has thrust him into transfer speculation with Chelsea. He does move for the quoted £91m this summer but to Serie A and Juventus.

He does perform really well however and this leads to a further move for £106m to Barcelona where he continues to score in excess of 10 goals per season. A failed move to the Premier League this summer would initially be detrimental to his price but his PB potential looks very good in a couple of seasons time.

Rayan Cherki (Price £4.96/£4.40)

The youngest and most unproven player in the current top 10 most expensive wonderkids. If he follows this career path he will not justify his price.

The simulation starts in summer 2019 and I believe there is a low release clause due to his age. Therefore, this is probably the least accurate forecast of his future career as he spends every season on loan after a £3.3m move to Manchester City this summer.

Ansu Fati (Price £4.80/£4.12)

In the coming season 2020/21 he remains a bit part player but performs when given the opportunity. However, from next summer his performances are excellent with double digit goals and from 2022 a decent number of player of the match awards.

This leads to the holy grail for football index traders, a £103m transfer to Manchester United where he continues to perform on the pitch.

Based on this simulation then Fati is a future King of the Index but this may take 4 years to achieve this.

Bukayo Saka (Price £4.43/£3.19)

Lastly, and probably least based on this, comes Arsenal wonderkid Saka. He is inexplicably loaned to Red Bull Leipzig for the 2021/22 season which proves a disaster with only 9 league appearances. A decent season with Arsenal follows but a £49m move to Manchester City would probably pick up some decent MB dividends but doesn’t do anything for his on field performances.

So there we have it. Whilst Saka and Cherki don’t fair too well in this particular simulation the rest of the current top 10 does appear to justify their lofty position at the top of the most expensive players.

Fati, Haaland and Mbappe are the players that have received the most individual awards with Mbappe also picking up 24 career wins by the age of 26.

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