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Recreating Diego Armando Maradona in FM21

I love youth development and I have a weakness for a good story. What happens when I combine the two? Well, in FM20 ”Santástico” happened. It was a blog/Twitch series managing Santos FC in Brazil, with the aim to create the next Pélé. I absolutely loved the series and I’ve been longing to do something similar in FM21. I’m so excited to announce that the time for this is now. It’s time to see if I can recreate the career of the other historic footballing great. It’s time to create a new Diego Armando Maradona in FM21.

What do I mean by ”recreate” then? Well, I mean it in the most role playing sense possible. I want to create a player that is as similar as the model as possible when it comes to attributes. I also want to see if I can recreate their career path or even better it!

As an example, in the Santástico save the aim was to get players to 100 goals for Santos FC before moving them on to Europe, while at the same time trying to develop them in a certain way, based on a ”Ginga Rating”. The ”Ginga Rating” was based on attributes fitting Pélé and the aim of 100 goals was used as a measure of the career patch.

In this post I’ll explain how I’m gonna try to create a new Maradona in FM21 by using the ”Diego Rating” and set a career path for my player. I will also highlight a few potential ”Next Diegos” in-game in case you want to take a stab at this yourself!

The Diego Rating

As explained above, this is my way of trying to decide which attributes that personified Diego Maradona and therefor should live on in the new Diego. Since Diego Maradona quit his playing career before the release of the first ever Football Manager game, this turns into a bit of subjective guess work on my end. However, Maradona does feature in the early versions of the predecessor to Football Manager; Championship Manager.

Maradona in Championship Manager

Based on this, we can start by looking at the strengths of the 37 year old Diego Maradona. Four of his attributes are at the maximum rating of 20. Balance and Technique are two attributes that are still in the Football Manager game today, while Adaptability and Influence are not. So, let’s start off easy and add Balance and Technique to the list of attributes for the Diego Rating. It is neither fair nor relevant to just copy all attributes from a 37 year old Maradona, well past his prime. We need to dig a little deeper to find the rest of the attributes for the rating. Luckily there is plenty of material, both written and in video format, on Diego Maradona in his prime. After spending countless hours talking to people, reading articles and watching YouTube clips, these are the ten most “Maradona-esque” attributes in my opinion:

  • Technical: Dribbling, First Touch and Technique
  • Mental: Bravery, Determination, Flair and Vision
  • Physical: Acceleration, Agility and Balance

This list highlights the fact that Maradona was a technical genius, with a unique ability to both identify opportunities on the pitch and to create magic through that opportunity. But it also points to his energetic way of playing. The combination of Bravery and Flair, Determination and Vision paints a more complex picture than that of a creative genius. There’s a bit of madness to it as well, which you’re well aware of if you know your Maradona history.

The player that best personifies the technical prowess of Maradona in FM21 is, not too surprisingly, Lionel Messi.

He scores a 99 out of 100 in the Diego Rating, only missing out on a top score due to his Bravery of 10.

Well, case closed then, you might be saying? You’ve found the “Next Diego” so why carry on? Well, the answer to this is both yes and no in my opinion, and I will try to explain why. When I look at the next Diego I look at two things; attributes and career path. Messi sure has the technical attributes and the Flair to be compared with Diego. I don’t only want a player that looks like Diego on the pitch though. I also want him to follow the same career path.

Career Path

Lionel Messi has not represented an Argentinian club at the senior level. This disqualifies him from becoming the “Next Diego” in my eyes. It has also been a contributing factor, together with the lack of trophies for the national team, why Messi has never become as loved or popular as Maradona in his native Argentina.

The career of Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona started his career with Buenos Aires club Argentinos Juniors, where he remained until age 21. Between his pre-16th birthday debut as the clubs youngest player ever and his departure five years later, he scored 116 goals in 166 games earned him a legendary status forever. At age 21 he secured a move to Argentinian giants and favourite club Boca Juniors, before moving on to Europe and FC Barcelona a year later for a then record fee of £5M (Oh, how times have changed…).

Juan Román Riquelme – The Closest So Far!?

Career wise I’d say that the player most resembling Maradona is Juan Roman Riquelme. There are loads of common denominations here. Both starting at Argentinos Juniors, moving on to Boca and eventually signing for FC Barcelona. They both also share the experience of failing at the latter club. There are also differences though. Riquelme left for Boca Juniors as a youth player and didn’t play his first senior game for Argentinos Juniors until the age 36.

The tool box of the 35 year old Riquelme shares as many similarities with Maradona’s as their career paths. His strengths lie in his Creativity/Flair, First Touch, Technique, Anticipation and Determination. He lacked a bit of the explosiveness and Bravery Maradona was known for, but made up for that by being a more physically commanding presence.

My save – “The Next Diego”

This boils down to my new save where I will make a serious attempt to recreate the career of Maradona in FM21.

The Argentinos Juniors Era

Just like Maradona and Riquelme, I will start at Argentinos Juniors, the club where it all began. My time at Argentinos Juniors will be focused on finding a diamond in the rough. I will use the “Diego Rating” to find player with the potential and attributes to have the fans whispering of a potential “Next Diego”.

The Boca Juniors Era

Once I have found and developed a player good enough I will move myself and the player to Boca Juniors. Before his 21st birthday to stay true to the Maradona lore. Hopefully he’ll develop a little further there and maybe win a title or two before it’s time for our “big move” to FC Barcelona.

The Barcelona Era

I’m well aware of the fact that Maradona did not excel at Barcelona, but instead ended up in Napoli where he became a king of kings. My aim is to succeed at Barcelona, perhaps even beating the career of ”The Golden Kid”. It’s gonna be a challenging and fun project that will keep me occupied through the summer. I didn’t quite managed to recreate Pélé in FM21, but hopefully it’s time to succeed now! I really want to recreate a Diego Maradona in FM21!

This journey can be followed primarily on Twitch Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening, together with episodes to my YouTube channel. I will also post occasional updates here if you enjoy the written format more.

The most exciting prospect at Argentinos Juniors is 16 year old Fernando Álvarez. With a “Diego Rating” of 68 he is deemed the most fitting to try to walk in Maradona’s foot steps.

With superb First Touch and Technique combined with a Determination high enough to really develop, this is going to be one exciting player to follow.

If you want to try this challenge yourself, here’s a few players to get you started!

3 potential “Next Diegos”

Fausto Vera

It might seem a bit odd to start the list with a defensive midfielder, but with a “Diego Rating” of 70 Fausto Vera certainly fits the mould. Being a product of the Argentinos Juniors academy makes him an even better fit. By focusing on his attacking attributes for a season or two, I’m certain he could be an attacking threat going forward!

Thiago Almada

The obvious choice. The wonderkid with a “Diego Rating” of 77 is in many ways a worthy successor to the many “Next Diegos” ahead of him such as Ariel Ortega and Diego Buonanotte. His great Flair and good Technique stands out. He likes to have the ball at his feet with player traits such as “Runs With Ball Through Centre” and “Comes Deep To Get Ball”.

Ezequiel Barco

The young Argentinian most resembling Maradona in FM21 doesn’t ply his trade in Argentina. He’s not in Europe either though. No, Ezequiel Barco with a “Diego Rating” of 80 plays for MLS side Atlanta United following an £11.25M move from Independiente in 2018. The combination of high Bravery and high Flair is what makes him the most interesting “Next Diego” for me. His height of 166 centimeters is certainly fitting as well!

I hope you enjoyed this article and it gives you ideas for your save. Make sure to check out other articles down below or elsewhere on our website.


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Written by mikaelinhofm

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