Welcome to my PES 2018 Master League series. I have decided to go Arsenal given the severe need for change at that club just now. They have the makings of a great squad, but require key recruitment and that’ll be our goal. To start with I have went ahead and made an educated guess on promoted and relegated teams for this season and will be starting the season as if it’s the 18/19 campaign.
I have went with West Brom, West Ham and Southampton to be relegated and Wolves, Cardiff City and Fulham to be promoted. Loan in players like Abraham and Sanches at Swansea, Kenedy at Newcastle and others have been left but future transfers like Naby Keita have been manually done.
So here we go. Day one as Arsenal manager. The first grey hair has appeared and I’m sitting in Wenger’s old office wondering if he really needed to write “un homme, un club” in blood on the wall before he left. The first thing to do is take a look at the squad the old boy has left behind. Let’s break it down;
Instantly we can see there’s a lot of dead weight there. My aim is to have a small squad but one where everyone has a part to play. Obvious players to cut ties with instantly are Iliev, Macey, Mavropanos, Nelson, DaSilva, Willock and Gilmour. That’s only scratching the surface though. We need to get rid of the players that are past there prime but still have transfer market value, which means Cech, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Santi Cazorla go too.
Lastly we have the players that are overrated or overpriced. Instantly leaping off the page here are Iwobi and Wellbeck. Two players who should be flattered when someone ever refers to them as a footballer. Players like Chambers, Elneny, Ramsay and Wilshere also fall into this category and will leave if a good trade or transfer proposal appears.
The weakest area in the team is the wings. PES doesn’t list one single Arsenal player as a right or left winger. Iwobi is a left sided midfielder and Mkhitaryan is listed as an central attacking midfielder although he’s able to play wide. This will be a key area for us to look at. Ideally I would like to bring in Balde Keita from Monaco on the left and Inaki Williams from Athletic Bilbao on the right. Both will cost a fair bit though, so we’ll see.
In the first few days I have went for three youngsters with a lot of potential. Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic, Steven Bergwijn from PSV and Yussuf Poulsen from RB Leipzig. Ajer, still only 19, is a massive centre back with bags of potential. Good in the air, strong in the tackle and can pick a pass. Bergwijn more than your standard young winger with pace. He has bags of tricks and a flair that sets him apart from the others. Finally Poulsen. Usually the best signing I make in any game. 6″4 but with pace in the 90’s, Yussuf Poulsen is the striker for any battle plan. He can play as a target man or spin in behind the defenders. A must buy. All three guys start with OVR’s of 77, but there’s plenty of room to grow.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any more in before the Community Shield match with Chelsea. I started with the lineup in the picture above, bringing on Xhaka for Cazorla at half time and Aubameyang for Bergwijn in the 72nd minute. We won 4-3, with three goals from debutante Poulsen getting a hat-trick. Despite the win and quality of the goals scored, there’s definitely some work to do on shutting the back door.
Elneny sold for £10m, Fosu-Mensah bought for £5m. Decent business but I am having trouble getting teams to do business on my top targets. The first league match of the season is four days away at home to Man City. Not looking good.
Welbeck sold to Spurs for £12m, Mertesacker to Stoke for £13m and Mavropanos away for a nominal fee. I now have £73m burning a hole in my pocket. Top targets include Balde Keita, Inaki Williams, Leroy Sane, Justin Kluivert, Tolisso, Donnarumma, LaFont and Kimpembe. One day before the Man City home match now though, I’m going to have to go with the Community Shield lineup, perhaps with Xhaka instead of Santi.
Day of the game. £16m offer for Monreal and £21m for Koscielny. I’m accepting both. It’s risky, because I’ll need to find adequate replacements for both, but the offers were good. Kolasinac is my preferred left back anyway and with Kos being 32 you can’t turn down an offer like that. I’m now up to £111m. That should fund the entire rebuilding of this squad. I have always been a big fan of Jordan Lukaku at Lazio. I’ll maybe try get him to replace Monreal. Time for the match. Sane not even named in the City squad… maybe they will sell.
So close to an excellent 1-0 win to start the season, but Bernardo Silva ruled out Ozil’s opener. Hard to be annoyed at a 1-1 draw with the reigning champs. Now onto strengthening the squad. Aubameyang has now twice came on to play left wing and done well. As Poulsen is likely to be my main striker I think he will continue to be used at both ST and LW.
£8m for Calum Chambers! But that’s not all. I have negotiated £19m for Inaki Williams, £23m for Keita Balde, £20m for Tolisso and £7m for Lukaku. That’s real quality added to the squad now. Cech has started the season well but I’d still like to replace him as well if possible. Plus a back up right back is needed. My first thought is Almany Toure at Monaco. I’m also now trying to close in on Leroy Sane.
Straight after mentioning his name a £18m bid came in for Cech from Atletico Madrid, so I have sold him. With the Bournemouth game only two days away I’ll likely need to play Ospina until I can secure a replacement. Donnarumma and Areola both on the radar.
Twice I had to come behind in this game, but eventually ran out 3-2 winners. This played out much more like the Community Shield match than the first league match against City. The team needs time to gel, but are looking a force. Both Balde Keita and Williams had quiet games, but they will grow into the roles.
£11m offered for Wilshere so I have wrapped him in bubble wrap and sent him to Benfica. This brings the transfer kitty back up to £80m, so time to get a few more players in to round out the squad. £5m accepted for Justin Kluivert so he’s in. Hopefully Sane, Toure, a goalkeeper and maybe another central midfielder still to come.
Bid rejected for Sane and he then moved to another club so it will be January at the earliest before I can get him. In the meantime I need someone else who can split duties with Ozil in attacking midfield. Or maybe I should just use Mkhitaryan for that until the next window? £17m bid accepted for goalkeeper Alisson at Roma. He will be my new #1.
£16m offer received and accepted for Santi Cazorla. Sad to let him go, but he’s an injury waiting to happen and at 33 years old that’s a good offer.
Monaco are driving a hard bargain. £12m for Almany Toure. I need another quality right back though and I have the money, so he’s now an Arsenal player. The next league fixture is away to Cardiff. I am going to SIM the game as it’s the last one before the transfer window shuts and I want to get on with finalising my team.
Sometimes it’s not the worst idea to SIM a game. Came out with a 4-1 win. Time to put the finishing touches on this transfer window.
Managed to pick up Marco Asensio for £19m. An absolute steal. Plus if he doesn’t perform well I’ll look into a swap deal in January with him and Sane. Paid £24m for Leon Goretzka and £14m for Youri Tielemans. I only needed one, but as both offers got accepted and I couldn’t resist. I picked up just under a million for Maitland-Niles as well. Next a £7m offer came in for Iwobi. GET IN! With him gone I have 7 deadline day hours and £10m plus Aaron Ramsay as a sweetener to look for a quality centre back. But wait! A £19m offer from Schalke for Ramsay comes in next. Accepting that gives me 5 hours left and £29m to spend. One hour of deadline day left and I have done it. Koulibaly is an Arsenal player. It cost £24m, but I think he can build a hell of a partnership with Ajer at centre back. Now it’s time to gel this squad!
After the window shut this is what remains:
GK: Alisson, Ospina
LB: Kolasinac, Lukaku
CB: Koulibaly, Ajer, Mustafi, Fosu-Mensah & Holding
RB: Bellerin, Toure
CM: Tolisso, Goretzka, Xhaka & Tielemans
CAM: Ozil, Asensio & Mkhitaryan
LW: Balde Keita, Bergwijn & Aubameyang
RW: Williams, Kluivert & Mkhitaryan
ST: Poulsen, Aubameyang & Lacazette
Not the complete squad I’m looking for yet, but a massive step up from where we started. I’ll be back soon with part two, covering the aftermath of the transfer window and how everyone is settling in very soon!
What do you think of my signings? What would you have done differently and with my current squad, what would be your formation and starting XI?