Football Manager 2021 – Ultimate Guide to Transfers

This guide will talk you through how to maximise the profitability of your transfers by splitting them into 3 categories:

  • Immediate impact – limited resale.
  • Immediate impact – profitability.
  • Prospect purchase.


You will need to utilise all 3 of these types of transfers to be successful in Football Manager but getting the proportions of each right is absolutely key to progressing your club to the highest level.

Type 1 – Immediate Impact / Limited Resale

This is the type of transfer you make to immediately have an impact in your first team, even though you are aware that you are incredibly unlikely to make a profit or indeed even your money back, if you were to choose to sell the player in a season or two. This type of player is usually aged 29+ and will go straight into your first team to make an impact. Think Juventus’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo or Newcastle’s purchase of Callum Wilson. Both are excellent signings and make an immediate impact on the team, but are unlikely to be resold at a profit due to their age.

This type of transfer can be crucial as players aged 28-32 tend to be at their peaks in the game. If you have no players in this category in your team you may struggle to get the best results as players’ mental and technical attributes tend to peak without damage to physical attributes at this point in their careers. This can completely change the dynamic of a team. Think Virgil Van Dijk’s transfer to Liverpool.

However, if you are constantly purchasing players in this stage of their careers, you are going to struggle with your incoming transfer fees in the future as their value reduces drastically around this time as well. My advice would be to keep these signings to a minimum and only make them if an absolute bargain appears. For example, I purchase Callum Wilson from Newcastle at the end of the first season as Newcastle got relegated. At £20 million, he was never likely to be sold for a profit (although I did sell him for £12 million to West Ham at the age of 32), but he scored a lot of goals for me over the next three years.

Limit to one or so a season max and try to keep them to free transfers if possible as there can be real bargains to be found in this category there.

Type 2 – Immediate Impact – Profitability

This is the category that you want most of your first team transfers to fall into. I see this as players aged 18-27 who you are purchasing for a price that is likely to increase in the future. These are players who will immediately feature in your first team squad/top 22 players in the club, meaning they are making an impact immediately and getting good game time. They don’t have to be star players from the second you purchase them, but the idea is you are buying them with an intent to give them 20+ games in the season either starting or from the bench. Always look for players who you can sell for as much or more if you choose to sell them in the future

This category has two sub-categories as a result that are relatively self-explanatory:

  • Squad player.
  • Important first team player.

There are many ways of looking for players who fit into this category and obviously the younger and more potential they have, the greater the chance there is of their value going up but it is also very worth while keeping an eye on the transfer list as often you can pick off signings from the big clubs who will be selling assets of a good age at a cut-down price due to them being replaced in the first team, unhappiness or managerial change. Caglar Soyuncu is one such example for me here. I bought him at the cut down price of £20 million from Manchester City as he wasn’t playing, he was a rotation option for me and yet I sold him for £40 million a year later as he was peak age and on decent form. The transfer list is a great way to exploit potential sell-on opportunities here.

The most obvious way is to simply purchase players who are first team ready/fill a hole in your squad and match the traits you need them to, but are also a good age. Buying players around their value when they are young is a good way to do this but if a player has incredible potential, you will obviously be willing to pay a bit more. Jeremie Frimpong from Celtic is a good example of a player who will not come cheap but, due to his age, will likely grow in value regardless and gain you a large profit in the future. I would argue Thiago Almada falls into this group and if you can convince him to join you and not a host of other clubs at the start of the game, he is a guaranteed large profit in future windows.

There are of course, the more risky signings in this category. These are the players who fall into this category age-wise but we purchase at a high price. Dele Alli is one such player. Dele usually goes on the transfer list in the game but is usually between 40-50 million to buy. You may question whether or not this would be money well spent but due to his age, elite reputation and attributes, he does sell on for a decent enough profit if you play your cards right (65 million to Arsenal in my case). These are the types of signings you will make when you are trying to win the league/break the top 4 as they are the players who will take you to the next level. I would suggest signing from this group more than the 29 year old+ group simply because if things go wrong, you are still much more likely to recoup your money from a 27 year old who hasn’t quite cut it, than a 31 year old who hasn’t. The profit margins are usually narrower here.

Like the final category – you can really maximise profits by looking to sell players on at their peak value. This is usually around the age of 28/29, after which a players value will decline, usually along with their performances. I’ve made a tidy profit on players by selling them at this point with Luca Digne going to Juventus for 35 million more than I bought him for at the age of 29.

Type 3 – Prospect

This is the section with the most opportunity for profitability – buying young players with high potential with the intention of improving them to the extent they play in your first team or they make you enough money that you can keep a healthy cash flow going. When done right, this has the potential to generate huge amounts of extra cash to spend in the transfer market. Just don’t expect to get it right all the time.

Always have your scouts on the lookout for young players as any excess cash that you have in the transfer market should always be spent boosting your youth team. I always get questions from the press about hoarding players but ultimately, Chelsea’s youth system is an excellent one to emulate as it has produced a very healthy cashflow over the years. Aim to spend no more than 2.5 million on players in this range as beyond that your losses could be substantial as young players are almost always a gamble. If you are getting them from under a million every time for players of 4 star+ potential, you will be guaranteeing large future profits. From season 3 in you should start cashing in on some of your youngsters.

The key to this working is cashing in on the player when their value is at its peak. Keep an eye on contracts and renew them even if you don’t plan on playing them at the age of 21 if you think that they will have some kind of resale value. I did this with Charlie Cresswell and Ryan Edmonton and made decent money on them both despite them having fairly mixed experiences on loan and never cracking into my first team. Usually aim to sell a player at 21 but if their potential dips before that, feel free to cash in earlier and fire in a percentage of future fee clause to safeguard against a rise in the players value again.

It doesn’t matter if a young player doesn’t match the style or system you play, if they have potential bring them in and loan them out. I’ve bought players for 69k who have rocketed in value to £10 million after one season on a good loan spell.

Key tips – buy many young players with good potential on the cheap (max 2.5mil but mostly under 1) and loan them out. Sell them at max profitability around the age of 21.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 3020 Articles
I love two things in life, games and sports. Although sports were my earliest interest, it was video games that got me completely addicted (in a good way). My first game was Crash Bandicoot (PS1) from the legendary studio Naughty Dog back in 1996. I turned my passion for gaming into a job back in 2019 when I transformed my geek blog (Re-actor) into the gaming website it is today.

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