The Santos Experience – Youth Development

Youth development is a bit part of any long-term save that I create because the overall end goal is to have a self-sufficient academy that allows me to only ever use academy players. This will take a few seasons to set up but it’s the aim from season three onwards. So developing players is an integral part of this save but how do I decide how to train and develop players? Well hopefully I can answers those questions below. It also makes sense that before I talk about my players and their development, that I should address the new changes made in Football Manager 16 to training.

There has been a number of changes concerning training and how the team’s personality type can rub off onto the younger players for Football Manager 16. This is quite a big change. If you go to your club overview screen then go to the general tab you’ll see this;


On past versions of the game this didn’t have an impact on player development but now that’s changed. So how does it work? It’s basically an automatic effect that is similar to tutoring but not as powerful.

The effects can be good or bad and are limited solely to the attribute related to the personality type. Eg. Professional = Professionalism (hidden attribute), Determination = Determination attribute and so on. So this differs from tutoring because it only works on one attribute, the one listed on the screen highlighted above. The age cut-off depends on the players  adaptability (hidden attribute) but the upper age limit is 24. So if the player has a low adaptability attribute then his cut off age will be before 24 by quite a bit.

There is also one more big change to this year’s game that many people will have already noticed and that is the ability to set an individual intensity level for a role focus or individual attribute focus. Instead, this is reflected under “Individual Training Workload” (can be seen on both Training > Individual and Development > Training). This will update as you add/remove further areas of training, eg. an additional focus or a PPM.

Those are the two main changes for this year and both are welcome changes by me, especially the squad personality influence because it means you need to focus on squad building and get players with desirable personality types because if they have bad ones, you don’t want them rubbing off on your youth players do you?!!

Oh one thing I almost missed mentioning was role training. If you want to train a player for a role that isn’t for his natural position then on this year’s game he will automatically start improving his positional rating for that role. Confused? So was we at first but here is an example to give a bit of clarity;

If you had a left back and you wanted him to train the inside forward role because that better suited his attributes, then you can still do that. However depending on which inside forward role you gave him (as you have option for AMR or AML) this would also see him start to become more familiar at either AMR or AML depending which you have selected.

There is a chance though that you might see a player’s positional rating stall or not get any better after a while. I’ve experienced this on my save as I’m three seasons in already. The reason for this can be one of two reasons. The first being the player has reached a point where he needs to be played in the position to improve further. As an example – if the player has no rating at all when you start the training then he might get to unconvincing and then it might not get any further until he actually plays in the position the role training is set for. And the second reason is the player might not be able to add more to his positional abilities, this one is a limit enforced to prevent strange things happening with CA.

None of the above is hear’say it is all confirmed by Seb Wassell from SI games.


The first thing I did when I took over at Santos was to look at all the squads and see which players were the real prospects and which wouldn’t realistically ever play for us. Now I won’t be writing about the latter because it would be pointless however I would like to point out, that I still develop them in the exact same way as everyone else at the club. They might never be good enough to play for me but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good enough for other clubs. Every single player at my club is treated the same way in terms of development.

These were the squads when I took over;

First Team

1st team

Reserve Team


Under 20’s


There are lots of potential with this squad and while a few of the players do have random potentials, for most parts they still become decent/good players.

Now what I need to do is go through each player and see what their attributes are like and decide how I’ll train them. I’ll only write about the ones with high potential though as these are the players who will be at the club for what I hope is a very long time. It’s also worth noting that I also need to determine the role they’ll eventually play the club for the tactic I use. So it’s worth remembering the tactics I am using which can be found here;


The first team players and reserve players, I will be writing about them in a different article. I wasn’t going to, I was including them in this until this very moment. But instead for those players I will write more of the ‘Meet the…..’ series I did because then I can talk a lot more about why I’ve developed that way and how you how the role they play shapes the way they are trained. I can also make it all about the individual then and show match examples of what they offer etc.

So for now, here are the Under 20 prospects;

Giovane Mario

Giovane Mario

He’s young and will improve but his starting mental attributes are very poor and it’s going to take many years to get them up to standard. His physical attributes are great though and this is likely the reason his mentals have suffered for now. Moving forward and deciding how I use him long-term then it has to be one of the midfield roles I use. I can’t see him playing in any other positions as I’m well stocked everywhere at the minute. I could use him as an attacking midfielder but I already have about seven of those so with that in mind it means he will have to be one of my central midfielders. The two central midfielder roles I currently use are;

  • Ball winning midfielder
  • Box to box midfielder

If we look at these roles I then have to decide which I’ll use for this player. He will see lots of attribute growth over the coming years but I also believe we can already kind of see which role he isn’t going to be playing. My thinking at this point is this – to be a ball winning midfielder I need him to be mentally strong as I need him to make the right choices and not get needlessly sent off. While his attributes will grow I’m not sure I can ever see him being a ball winner because all the attributes I need for that role won’t be developed fully or to a reasonable level by the age of 18/19 when his role at the club will become more important and I feel that would hamper his long-term future with me because he’d get fewer games than needed.

So that leaves me with the box to box role which is still as demanding but I believe it will suit him better. Plus I like to develop different kinds of players for a role, by that I mean I always try to have someone with different attributes who can interpret the role different to what you might expect. This can then offer a different strategy inside a game. I won’t bang on about that just yet though because I’ll be writing a lot about that particular aspect in the coming week when I do more of the ‘Meet the…….’ series that have been so successful in the past.
This is the training I’ve given him for now and the individual focus;

Giovane Mario 2

As far as tutoring goes I’m still undecided yet because I only have a couple of people who can tutor so it’s something I’ll be taking my time over before deciding who I prioritise. I will talk about this though more in the next update.



What a great prospect he looks like. He has decent technicals, excellent mentals and good physicals for his age. He could easily play any of the three midfield roles that I use in the tactic.

  • Regista
  • Ball winning midfielder
  • Box to box midfielder

Those are the three I use. I think because of his great first touch, passing, flair, decisions, teamwork and workrate already being very high for his age then it would make sense to develop him as the regista. That’s because it’s a playmaking role and he has the advantage here because I can work on those attributes even more over the next few years. It’s frightening just how good this player might become. The decision how to train this player was made easy and it wasn’t really a decision in the end. Here is what he is being trained as and the individual focus;

Guilherme 2



Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen me raving about this young lad. He has big footsteps to follow with Neymar and Gabigol in recent years but it looks like he has the potential to be a very good player. The three attacking roles that I use in the current tactic are;

  • Trequartista/Enganche
  • Complete Forward
  • Inside Forward

If I decided to train him as a Trequartista or Enganche then I need to also retrain him, which just giving him those as role training would automatically improve his attacking midfield rating. But I don’t need any more attacking midfielders there are plenty at the club already. He could equally be trained to play as the inside forward but that’s a role that Gabigol will be playing every game he is fit for, so that might mean less game time for Arthur. I am short of strikers at the club though and it makes sense to just keep him as a striker. I didn’t decide to train him as a complete forward though, at least not for the time being because I thought an advanced forward schedule would be better for now. It focuses on less attributes which will improve the chances of all the (what I class anyway) vital attributes raising and being worked on more than other schedules which work on lots of attributes. So here is his training and attribute focus;

Arthur 2



Another player who is capable of playing in multiple positions. The roles I could use him for in my own setup are;

  • Wingback
  • Trequartista/Enganche
  • Inside forward

If we looked at him as a wingback then he could make a good one, especially from an attacking sense. However my current two left wingbacks are both very young (under 22 both of them) then I expect they’ll be here for a long time. While having three would be great depth it would mean we could be wasting Diogo’s talents. Do I really need another attacking midfielder? Not really I need to get rid of a fair few fr that position already and I believe I already have better suited young attacking midfielders in the team already. So this really leaves me with the inside forward role. This isn’t actually a bad thing because Gabigol is definitely the first choice here but it also means that at the end of the first season if Diogo improves during the first season, that I can see Geuvanio who is player I currently rotate with Gabigol. So having Diego who has a hot prospect squad status be his understudy will be better as he’ll not complain about only playing limited amounts of games. It also means I can raise some badly needed funds as the financial situation at Santos is a disaster right now.  
This is how I train him currently;

Diogo 2

So that is all the prospects (that I consider I have at least) from the Under 20 squad. A few others might emerge as time goes on and depending on how they develop but these are the current stand out candidates. I didn’t want the article to jump straight in and deal with the more in-depth stuff. Instead, I wanted to focus on a little introduction. When I update with the next installment that will be much more in-depth and informative because it will include development of the players over a numerous amount of season. So you will get to see any tutoring I did, any PPM’s taught and more importantly the attribute changes at various different points through the years. Until then, I hope you enjoy this introduction.


16 thoughts on “The Santos Experience – Youth Development”

  1. Thanks Cleon, really helpful article, useful insight into the changes and a good run down on development.

    In my save I had noticed a lot of “balanced” youngsters – so the squad personality makes a lot of sense adn is more realistic!

    You reckon that HoYD personality will still have a decent effect on newgens?

    1. You will see all of this in part two, each player is different there is no set way so it’s complex to answer without showing examples, which the next installment does.

    1. It still depends on the individual and how I’ve been training him. I’ll be showing lots of examples though and I still use the old method but not for everyone as you’ll see 🙂

  2. I find it a little surprising you’re training Diogo to be an inside forward at AML when he’s left-footed. I always played under the assumption inside forwards HAVE to be “wrong footed”, ie right-footed players on the left wing, and the opposite on the other side. Do you reckon he can still be effective despite this handicap?

    1. It’s not an handicap and they don’t HAVE TO BE wrong footed. This season he’s scored 25 in 27 games and Gabigol who is my main inside forward is also left footed and has 42 in 32 games. I also helps that I have someone central who they can use more if they want. I see a lot of one two’s. The IF gets the ball drives forward, passes to the treq/enganche then he gives it straight back. It splits defences open. If he was mainly right footed he’d be a lot more selfish and shoot more. I want focus on goals rather than shots attempted so being left footed helps with this.

  3. So I am thinking I should wait until HpJanuary on an EPL save, since I start without transfer budgets and the PoD choices are slim pickings, especially now that I have to take personality into account also. Does this make sense? Thanks for the article, it really helped me understand the changes.

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