First update in a long while, and it’s more of an organisational post than anything letting you see into what I look at when bringing through the next youth generation. Having played very little FM14, I decided to return to FM13 and with Wolves I’ve found it particularly interesting following the progression of my youth sides. I’ll do an update on these players at a later date to explain what I did and how they turned out. I’ll probably also do an article on the tactics I use with the first team, at some point, too. This may not (see: probably won’t) interest you. No worries. Stop reading when you get bored. It’s a basis for more interesting things to come.
#2 – right-back
#3 – left-back
#4 – most defensive central midfielder
#5 – central defender
#6 – central midfielder
#7 – right midfielder
#8 – most advanced central midfielder
#9 – most advanced striker
#10 – deeper striker
#11 – left winger
these are based on position on the pitch rather than role in the team
Gheorghe Petrea (RB, Full Back, aka #2)
Petrea is a player who has played in the first team for a while now, as a backup right-back, and more recently, slotting in as my #2 of choice (he made 38 starts and 6 sub appearances last year). Since joining from Stade Rennais on the third time of asking (bloody work permit issues), he’s been arguably my main young asset. He’s able to fill in all across the backline, although his lack of heading means he really needs to be the deepest central defender in a three-man CB unit if he plays centrally. And if the team were to go the three-at-the-back route, he’s also been recently retrained to play at RWB, a role he now appears to be a natural at.
At right-back, he’s tactically sound for what’s required of him. Whilst my #3 is a player who is up and down the wing constantly, Petrea will often sit back and form part of a three-man defensive unit with a central midfielder marauding in front. However, at only 18 years old he’s still got plenty of time to progress and if I felt his attacking abilities needed a major tweak then that could be achieved quite easily. I’m excited for Petrea and think he could well turn out to be the best proper right-back I’ve had in a long while.
Andre Demuth (CB, Central Defender, aka #5)
Since signing for £4m in 2022 at the age of 16, Demuth has perhaps not hit expectations. At the age of 22, the majority of the top talents that come through the Wolves academy have broken the first team and form a vital part of the starting lineup on a regular basis. However, Demuth has found himself languishing in the reserves, and more recently, with two consecutive loans to his homeland Germany, with Wolfsburg and then Leverkusen.
His physical abilities mean the team could operate with an almost suicidally high-line as he’s quicker than most strikers. His marking is below par for what I’d expect from my CBs but he can almost always make up for it due to his pace. The only worry is that his footballing ability is fairly poor and slotting him into the team would require a slightly more direct style of play than usual. All in all, I’m a big fan of the kid but it’s unlikely that he’ll ever make it at Wolves as we have three outstanding central defenders in the first team who often have an average rating of ~8 each season. He’ll probably be loaned out again this season, as hopefully one of the big two German clubs will come knocking.
Mohammad Tran (CB, Central Defender, aka #5)
In a lot of ways, Tran is in a similar position to Demuth in terms of finding it difficult to break into the first team. A lot of youth development is luck and for the likes of Gheorghe Petrea, they had that in abundance, as the club only had one servicable right-back at the time of his arrival. Tran is obviously a few years behind Demuth, but he appears to be developing at a slightly better rate. He went on loan to Leverkusen alongside the aforementioned last season and impressed. He’ll go out on loan to another club next season and perhaps push for a first-team place the season after.
Tran is slightly more one-dimensional than Demuth, though, which means they make a good pairing. However, for the former, it may make it difficult to get into the first team, where all players are expected to contribute to many phases of play.
Suat Ates (CB, Central Defender, aka #5)
As much as Tran is a few years behind Demuth in development terms, Ates is even further. As such, it’ll be a long, long time given the CB queue that’s developing before he even gets close to regular first-team action. However, Ates is quickly looking like a more well-rounded player than both of the aforementioned which will stand him in good stead in the long-run. Next season will result in his first ever loan which will hopefully see him begin to flourish.
When Andoni Galindo was purchased in January of this year, it looked like he had all the makings of a defensive midfield colossus that would rack up appearances for years to come. However, a hamstring tear not long into his time at Wolves signalled that not all would be plan sailing, a view which was confirmed by the club’s scouts who suggested he had a propensity to injuries. As well as this, his true ‘unsporting’ personality has been revealed, meaning Galindo will need a strong mentor in order to develop him mentally.
There’s plenty of reasons Galindo won’t develop as originally planned but if he does then he has the potential to be a monster. In the long-term, the club plans to go with a 4-2-2-2 hybrid and Galindo could fit into this perfectly as the deepest central midfielder. However, due to the aforementioned reasons, Galindo won’t be near the first team for a while and will have to make do with ripping up the U18s league.
Mirko Tesic (CM, Defensive Midfielder, aka #4)
If all goes tits up with Galindo, then Tesic is the man to slot into the centre of midfield. Signed a few seasons ago, the Serb has already appeared for the first team a couple of times, performing well in all instances. Despite being the same age, being signed at the age of 15 means that Tesic is far further along the development ladder than Galindo, despite being the same age.
Tactically, Tesic is likely to offer very similar to Galindo and will act as something of a safety net. If all goes well, the two may be able to play together against the big sides in away games as dual destroyers.
Maxime Teixeira (CM, B2B Midfielder, aka #6)
When I read articles from the most knowledgable player developers around the football manager scene, one of the key bits of advice they give is to ensure focus on attributes rather than a player’s potential ability. However, I was shocked to find a player with five star potential ability (according to various different scouts) considering I find it very, very difficult to find anyone with four and a half. Before even looking at Teixeira’s attributes, I knew I wanted to buy him. However, looking at him further just sent me into a spiral of excitement.
Despite being 15 years of age, the kid looks more than able to slot into the first-team as a rotational option, straight away. He’ll need to be looked after carefully by a tutor but Teixeira looks like he could well be the best player I’ve ever developed, on any FM. Ever. His physical attributes are very poor but that’s to be expected of such a young chap, and we can only hope he turns into a Yaya Toure-esque dominating presence in the centre of the pitch to add to his undoubted ability with the ball. I’m just a bit giddy.
Alternatively in the #6 role, Louis Rousset could offer a hint of technicality to the role if I decide the deep midfield two could use a playmaker. Against weaker sides, I may decide to rest Teixeira and play with Inside Forwards or Wingers in the second ‘2’ in the 4-2-2-2. This would mean the creativity would need to come from deeper, and this is where Rousset comes in.
Bought from the now infamous Stade Rennais academy, Rousset has had first-team experience with Rennais, Wolves and with Montpellier in a recent loan. Unfortunately, the team has two very strong deep-lying playmakers meaning he’ll find it difficult to break into in the short-term, but at 31 and 30 years of age, there’s not long before he’ll get a chance. Another loan beckons for next season, though.
Marcio (AMR, Winger, aka #7)
As I mentioned previously, sometimes youth development is about luck more than anything. And Marcio will certainly benefit from this next season. Prior to last season, young Frenchman Remy Maurel was a rotational player for the #10 spot. However, last year he was given a role slightly wide on the right in the 4-2-2-2 and flourished. He was a key part of the team’s success and means the club will be sticking with a wide player on the right-hand side in the long-term since Raheem Sterling left half a decade ago.
The agreement to sign Marcio was made several years ago when the Brazilian was a fleet-footed 16 year old at Internacional. However, he developed his game and now at 18, he becomes the two-footed player needed to play wide in the 4-2-2-2. Whilst Remy Maurel is a converted #10, Marcio offers more of a wide option and could be valuable if we wish to stretch the play against teams attempting to park the bus. The Brazilian will get game-time almost immediately because of this.
In the Summer of 2025, the club went on a spending spree of French academies, securing the signatures of four young Frenchmen, Tran, Furlan, Maurel and Blanc. Furlan was tipped to be the brightest of them all, but has since been surpassed by Maurel. He’s been on four loans in the past four seasons, with a steadily improving average rating, from 6.63 to 6.73 to 6.89 to 7.00 and yet there’s still no place in the first team for him.
However, long-term, there’s definitely plans for him. His ability to play on the left of the second ‘2’ in the 4-2-2-2 means he could easily play alongside countryman Maurel. When the team decides to morph into a 4-2-3-1 he could also slot into the role behind the lone striker. I’m yet to decide whether he’ll go out on loan next season or not.
Giordano is a new signing this Summer brought in to ensure we’ve got a long-term successor in the #10 role. He’s already looking like a very well-rounded player. Could use a good tutoring to alter his ‘Balanced’ personality, though. His teammate comparison is Ridiger Sadiku who is perhaps my best player, which is promising. Plenty of work to be done here but he’ll get a run in a cup game or two.
Alain N’Dioro (AML, Inside Forward, aka #11)
N’Dioro is a rarity in that he’s a genuine product of the club’s youth academy. At 15, he’s looking rather promising as he’s far more well-rounded than a number of the other players named here. In the long-term, I’d like to have three options for each of the attacking midfield positions and hopefully N’Dioro will be the inside forward option of the trio once Matthew Kwame leaves the club. As with a few others, needs a good tutoring.
A few of the players mentioned here have been on a fairly substantial number of loans, and a couple of those have really stagnated. But David Barnes doesn’t fit into that category. Originally purchased from Schalke (which is in itself interesting for an Englishman), Barnes wasn’t thought of as one of the top prospects at the club. Even after his initial loan to West Ham, he was just thought of as one of the crowd. However, in his second successive loan at Reading, Barnes really broke into the elite as he broke the magical 20 goal mark for the club, single-handedly dragging them into the top half.
However, despite a fantastic season, Barnes will once again be moving out on loan this year. This is because the club’s new striker Senegal smashed the club’s goal in a season scoring record (previously Lacina Traore’s 39) with 69 goals. Yep. So with limited game time for anyone not named after an African country, Barnes would be best served with another full season elsewhere until I am forced to play him alongside the Brazilian striker.
Bought from Girondins Bordeaux a couple of seasons ago, Saldana has steadily progressed through the system at Wolves, ripping up the U18s league on his way. He now looks like a very well rounded player and may be ready for some rotational first-team action sooner rather than later.
The only thing stopping him from playing in the #11 role in the 4-2-2-2 is his poor decision making, and whilst he is more suited to playing as a #9, the club’s depth there is too strong for him to make an immediate impact. Having been tutored for a number of years, Saldana is now a suitable candidate to be loaned out.
We move on to yet another candidate for the crowded #9 spot. Another brought in from a French club, Blanc did well in his [very] limited appearances last season. He managed three goals in the two league games he played when the league was already won. And, depending on what happens to the other #9 youth candidates, he’ll probably play a similar role this season, except with a bigger role in the cup games.
Blanc differentiates himself with his fantastic 20 jumping; if he can improve his heading to such a standard then he’ll offer something very different to the squad. Having variety in depth is vitally important so you can react to any and every situation and Blanc has the potential to provide that. One to watch.