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Using the Similar Player Filter: Buying Like for Like in FM21

Player transfers play a huge part in most FM21 saves. That’s part of the draw of Football Manager. Whether you are in the Premiership making big money deals or down in the lower leagues fighting for scraps and free transfers. Almost all of us (I’m ignoring you hardcore youth academy challengers) have dabbled in the transfer market to improve our teams. But what if we don’t want to, or can’t afford to, upgrade our teams? What if we have a star that we just want to replicate? This is where the find Similar Player Filter comes in.

Buying Like to Like

We are often driven to get the next wonderkid in. There are pages and pages dedicated to finding the next Ronaldo, Zlatan or Heskey on forums and video after video on YouTube. There are even media descriptions in the game labelling the next wonderkids by comparing to old greats.

As you can see above there’s even a similar, less than famous, player comparison. Sometimes though we are not in a position to recruit a wonderkid, or the next Gordon Banks or even a slight improvement on what we’ve got. At DTG we generally have the mantra of Always-be-upgrading but sometimes you either have great players, or you’ve hit a financial ceiling and have to make do.


Something else to consider as well is how often we have flops or superfulous players. For every Mbappe or Haaland, there’s Kerlon or Adu.

Sometimes this is just because they don’t live up to the hype. But often in Football Manager, this is because they tempting new wonderkid or big money marquee player doesn’t actually fit the system you are playing. They look that part but they don’t play as well as the 30-year-old talisman you’ve just taken outside behind the barn and shot.

Good performances aren’t as simple as having good attributes. We’ve all had players in FM that play far better than their shoddy attributes would suggest. That’s because player performance is about the balance of attributes and how they mesh with the tactics you have set up. That fast agile wonderkid might be good, but if you’re playing a role that needs aerial battles to be won you might find him doing poorly.

It goes back to the idea of square pegs in square holes. There’s no point in having a new shiny toy if it just doesn’t fit in.

Similar Player Filter

Let’s say then you have your team set up and you want to recruit a specific type of player. Or let’s say you can’t afford better, you just want to make sure you don’t downgrade. This is where we use the Similar Player Filter. We pick the player we want to replicate and away we go.

Over in the player search, under new search, you can find the similar player filter and type to your heart’s content. It isn’t limited to players in your own team. Any player you have knowledge of can be selected. And when you choose your soon to be clone it fills in some of the relevant attributes.

It doesn’t fill the details of every attribute but it selects a few of they key or high attributes, and fills in the position/role information. Now the attributes it selects still might not be the ones you are interested in. You can add, tweak, remove until you get a better similar player filter that represents what you want.

You should now have a list of players that fit your player profile, and in theory, the mix of attributes they have (and any other properties you have added) should let you recruit a player that will play in the same way, to the same level. Obviously, you may need to push the boat out with some scouting, as I’m having doubts that the £44m rated Valencia winger is going to be the same sort of player as the 17-year-old from Hull.

In Practice

So far, so theoretical. How about an example of using the Similar Player Filter? Over in my Scarborough Athletic, Dafuge challenge inspired save, I have managed to recruit an absolute beast of a striker. He doesn’t look it. But he has been shaming keepers for several seasons now.

The one, the only, Ethon Varian.

He doesn’t look like he should have 133 career goals. He doesn’t look like a 20+ goal a season goal machine. But he is clinical, hunts loose balls down and knows exactly where he needs to be to get on the end of a long ball or cross. It doesn’t matter if you’re scoring a rocket or a tap in so long as you are scoring 20 of them a season.

I think he is a classic case of the right combination of attributes getting results, rather than him being an amazing overall player. Sorry Ethon.

With that record he should be getting some attention soon. I might not have the resources to replace him if I’m not careful. We also need a plan on how to replace him without breaking the bank and without a drop in performance. I have a transfer budget of £0 so I can’t afford better. I need to use the Similar Player Filter to buy like for like. We need Ethon Mk. II.

The Similar Replacement

We fired up the Similar Player Filter and stuck in Ethon’s information. A few tweaks to make sure the spread of attributes fits Varian’s profile and we get a few options. Some are way beyond realistic, but with some lowering of the attribute points we widen the pool and get a few we can look at.

One that sticks out is little Joe Fairs. A newgen from the Manchester City academy. Another name that also grabs the attention is Kyohei Sasaki from the close Hull City team.

Whilst neither are a complete match to Varian they do share a lot of similarities in how the attributes are distributed. And as a result, they play in a very similar manner. Fairs actually replaced Varian when he was out injured and made the exact same runs and movements that Varian would do.

And look at the goals. Each player managed 14 league goals this season, with Fairs getting most of his either from the bench or when he was rotated in for Varian. I didn’t have to worry about whether they would be able to do it though. I knew they should be able to as they were cut from the same cloth as Varian due to the Similar Player Filter.

The Almost Similar Filter for Youth

Now I’m not going to be signing many wonderkids for Scarborough. Not yet anyway. But I do still need to develop youth, and creating a conveyor belt to replace my stars. I won’t be replacing them with massive upgrades. I just can’t afford to. But I can use the Similar Player Filter to make sure I recruit someone who can play the way I want them to play.

To get this to work with youth players it’s just a case of expanding the search terms by reducing the attribute scores. And then training up, and mentoring the players you bring in. As you shape the branch so will the newgen tree grow.

If you enjoyed this article you can catch up on Ethon Varian’s goal scoring exploits here, follow Dictate the Game on twitter here, and you can try some of the latest posts below:

Written by Pelham [FMTahiti]

I like to write about stats, tactics, editing and experiments. I also have a youtube channel under the name FM Tahiti where I have videos about my FM19 career in a semi-fictional French Polynesian/Tahiti database.

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