Stade de Reims 19/20 summer window
Could we build on last year and really establish ourselves as a top half side. With the added games of the Europa League we are going to need a bigger better squad. Transfers will form a big part of that but we will also need to develop our own team so the board agreed to improve the youth recruitment
Some big names did leave but all of my choosing which is a nice position to be in. Diego was starting to whinge about not getting game time and he was the wrong side of 30. £5m was decent money and he gets to go to Spain for the end of his career. Kyei was loaned out last year and stat wise he was no where close to Edouard and Siebatcheu so taking £1m for a reserve player was good business and Chavarria was going to be in a similar position to Diego. Over 30 and not likely to start week in week out, the Argentine was also moved on to Spanish football. The only other permanent players to leave of note were Rod Fanni and Romain Metanaire. Fanni retired from football whilst i let Metanaire's contract expire.
So with the exits confirmed, i had to look at what i needed. Well the first thing was to try and keep the four players who were on loan here last season for another year. All four were vital to our success last year and keeping them would allow me to carry on building. In the end, three of the four (Edouard, Foden, Leandrinho) extended their loans with Lyon wanting to play Pape Cheikh this season. Foden is even labelled a wonderkid nowadays as well which is quite exciting.
With these guys nailed on, i really needed to add a right back, a centre half, at least two central midfielders and a winger. With that shopping list, i went and got the below
Seven new faces is a lot of new faces for a pre-season but the squad we have now is more rounded and with more ability than before. Sherif Saber
is an Egyptian regen that i have been following for a few years. At £450k he is cheap and has the speed you want from a winger and he has the added bonus of being a set piece master which might come in handy this year.
was the most expensive new signing with the young Serb finally having enough of not playing in Liverpool. With Pape Cheikh not coming back on loan i needed a really good option to play the Mezzala role that is crucial to our play. I think Grujic can be that man. If he doesn't work out than Yohann Cabaye
could be. He is getting on a bit but he still has the legs to get around the pitch and workmanship is one of our top traits as a team.
l was transfer listed by Valencia and at £500k he should be a minimum risk option at right back. Is he the finished article? No he isn't but for now he should be good enough and there is a good chance i can sell him on in a year or two for a bit of profit. Soualiho Meite
was another player transfer listed and i hope Reims can be that place where he rebuilds his career having been stuck in the Monaco reserves last season. Danilson da Cruz and Meite will compete for the ball winner position and with the number of cards we pick up it is definitely worth while having two options there.
It probably goes without saying that loan deals have worked for me and a fourth player joins on loan as i bring in Frenchman Jeff Reine-Adelaide
from Arsenal for the season. He is versatile, quick and speaks the language and i have had him on previous FM's where he has done really well for me. So i am hoping i can recreate that. Finally, the last signing was Maxime Le Marchand
, who apart from having the most French name possible should be a decent left footed centre back to give us four solid options for the season.
So i am breaking more and more records but all in all it is just a net spend of £750k. Is it enough? Only results will tell.
On the pitch
Pre-season was a mixed bag as we lost to Man Utd and QPR but victories over Bristol City and Sambenedettese were promising. Our first competitive match was against PSG in the Trophee des Champions (French Community Shield). A daunting prospect as we have lost all three games against them previously but runs are there to be broken
It is a 3rd trophy in 3 seasons and another come back. Neymar scored early on but Edouard equalised with a goal against his parent club. Ukrainian Tkachuk looked to had scored the winner with his first goal for the club before PSG equalised with Leon Bailey scoring on his debut. It looked to be going to extra time before Cabaye hit a 20 yarder for a debut goal and another trophy.
Moving on to the league we once again lost the opening game of the season losing to Troyes 2-0 but we have bounced back with victories over Toulouse (4-2) and Saint Etienne (2-0) leaving an early table looking like this
We enter the Europa League at the group stages and as i expected we were the 4th seeds having not played in Europe for some time. Our group will consist of Villareal, Rapid Vienna and Young Boys which in my opinion is a group we can qualify from.