“No one likes us…” The Red Bull Revolution

I mentioned it in the winter break update with Salzburg, but I’ve been meaning to write about the new potential player development pathway that’ll hopefully be revolutionising Red Bull as a whole. So here it is!

It all centres around Salzburg, and their role in it. It’s threefold, and I’ll go through each point individually.

Buy Cheap, Sell On

Development Signings and Youth

Development Loans

Leipzig are the main club in the save, just as they are in the non-FM world. Two of the three points involves them, but my approach to signing players there is slightly different at times. We’re challenging in the upper echelons of football now, two-time Bundesliga winners and the reigning Champions League champions. A higher calibre of player arrives at Leipzig to come straight into the first team, rather than going through the any of the processes I’m about to outline that involves Salzburg.

Buy Cheap, Sell On

A classic tactic that so many FMers adopt in their saves. You see it time and time again. You might spot a bit of potential in a player that’s been undervalued by the AI, he’s been transfer listed or released on a free. He’s snapped up by you, you give him minutes on the pitch, he impresses and starts attracting AI managers again.

As I’ve mentioned before too, Salzburg were in a pretty bad state when I took them over after three seasons of AI mismanagement. The club had to be built up again from the ground. The bank balance wasn’t looking pretty and high wages were being handed out to players that weren’t deserving of it. The Buy Cheap, Sell On mantra has got the club back on sound footing again, alongside selling off those undeserving players too. The totals so far stand at selling players for £36.5m, and spending £14.75m on players coming in to the club. £13m of that £36.5m has been from players who I’d brought into the club for a total of £1.2m, in just three summer transfer windows. Still relatively small scale, but not too bad at all. And there’s players still on the books that I’m looking to continue the process with.

Adou is one of the perfect examples of the process so far. He was discovered on a scouting trip of the Ivory Coast, arrived on a free transfer from ASEC, played 49 matches across one and a half seasons and was sold on to Hoffenheim for a potential fee of £4.5m.

Some might link this into some sort of moneyball, but I’m happy enough deeming it Buy Cheap, Sell On. The money made from sales like this can then go into improving the structure of the club; improving our facilities thus enabling us to keep being an attractive option for young talent, keeping the wheel turning on this process.

Development Signings and Youth

As I’ve said, RBLeipzig are the main club in the save. What I do in the save, for the most part, is geared towards them. If a Salzburg signing develops well enough, then it’s likely they’ll move on to Leipzig. This also applies to Salzburg youth products too. If someone talented arrives in the intake, we’ll hone their talents in Austria with the aim of moving them on to Germany when they’re ready.

El Ashry arrived for £200k (seriously recommended that you go on a scouting trip to Egypt on FM17) and is our current main striker at Salzburg. Now he might well turn into a Buy Cheap, Sell On option, but right now, he’s on the right track to earn a move to Leipzig. He was out injured for a few months last season, but still ended up with 18 goals in all competitions.

Kalkan came through the initial 2016 Salzburg youth intake, but was thrust into first team action when I took over the club. After just 30 appearances, in the summer of 2020, he made the move to Leipzig for £6m, his release clause. He hasn’t exactly been able to assert himself into the first team yet at RBL, but his value has shot up at least.

Gerber is my next hot prospect that I’m pinning my hopes on to develop and be the next one to jump onto the conveyor belt. He was in and around the first team squad at Salzburg as a 16-year-old, and he looks like he should develop into a really promising attacking midfielder.

Development Loans

This has been one of the key benefits so far of taking over at RBSalzburg. I’ve been able to take some of my best young prospects that arrive in Leipzig, loan them out to Salzburg and be in complete control of their game time and development whilst out on loan. Loaning young players out to enable them to get first team football and push on development-wise isn’t anything new, of course, but the aspect that I’m able to remain in control of them is something a bit more unique in my save.

A group of loanees has arrived in each season so far and there’s a few more plus points to it too. They continue to play and train alongside each other; increasing their camaraderie. Plus because I’m playing the same way with Salzburg as I am at Leipzig, they’re getting used to the system and will hopefully be able to slot right in when they’re ready to in Leipzig.

Piotr Orlowski will hopefully be the shining example of this.

He had a great season on loan at Salzburg in 2020/21, hitting 11 goals and laying on 17 assists, which was a new record for the club. He was named in the team of the season, won the player of the season award too and made his international debut for Poland. He’s arrived back in Leipzig ahead of the 2021/22 season and will be competing for a first team spot in one of the three roles behind our striker.

It’s not all positive though. 

Franco Sosa spent my first season in charge of Salzburg, 2019/20, on loan at the club and had a brilliant season leading the line, scoring 23 goals and providing 13 assists. He returned to the club, but went out on loan again in 2020/21, this time to Bundesliga side Augsburg. He wasn’t a regular starter, but did manage to score 9 goals over the course of the season. He’s still only 21, but I don’t think he’ll ever kick on and be good enough to be considered for a first team role at RBLeipzig.

One of the major things to note too is the obvious difference in quality of the leagues between the two clubs. The German Bundesliga is sitting third in the competition table, while the Austrian Bundesliga has improved it’s standing since my arrival in Salzburg, but is still sitting in 12th position overall. This can impact things, especially in the Sosa example above, where a player can do well but not necessarily be equipped to do well on their return to Leipzig. Not only that, but across the five transfer windows since I’ve been at Salzburg so far, so many Leipzig players have flat out rejected the opportunity to head to the club on loan. I’ve taken great strides so far, but building the club up to a required level will continue to take time.

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