Player development is a vitally important part of managing your club. If done effectively it will help you to secure long term success both on the pitch and financially, as it will give you a continuous supply of quality players coming through who you can then either play in your first team or sell on for a profit. The benefits of focusing on youth are discussed further in the Squad Building guide.
To properly appreciate how player development works you will first need an understanding of current ability and potential ability. The Player Ability & Performance guide explains both of these concepts in detail.
There are three components of successful player development. The first is youth intake. In order for your youth development system to continually produce quality talent you will need to ensure that young players with good potential ability are being regularly brought into the club.
The other two components involve the actual development process itself and so are interlinked. They are optimising player improvement and shaping player improvement. You will need to improve the current ability of your developing players so that it fulfils as much of their potential ability as possible, as early as possible, and also shape the distribution of their current ability to suit their assigned tactical roles and your desired tactical style.
You can source young players both internally and externally.
At the end of each season you will have the opportunity to offer youth contracts to players who have come through the junior teams in your youth system. This is the most financially efficient way to recruit young players in the long term, but may require an initial investment in the relevant facilities for players with good potential ability to come through.
You can also look elsewhere for young players with good potential ability using your scouts or the player search feature. However, you will have to pay a transfer fee if a player is already signed to another club, meaning that this method is more expensive in the long term. On the other hand, it enables you to sign high potential players even if you are not currently able to promote them from your own junior teams, or simply to supplement your internally sourced talent. Furthermore, it allows you to target players with particular attributes, preferred moves and personalities, which can make the development process easier. Finally, if the development of the players you buy is successful then it still allows you to bring in senior players at a lower cost than buying already established players, and to sell players on for a profit if they do not make your first team.
Regardless of the methods you use though, you should ensure that new potential talent is being brought in regularly and that each position is covered. A big club with a good youth system is likely to have a least two players in every position in its youth team squad.
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