Girona FC – S3,4: Season 3 Review & Squad Analysis

FM22 Analytics, tactics and soccernomics

In season 3 we missed out on a European place by 1 spot. I now need to figure out a way to get us to the next level on what will be a small, or non-existence transfer budget (depends how the Stengs situation turns out).

Here I’m going to dissect the first team squad and have a look at what youth can break into the first team set up. Hopefully this will show who the team needs building around and who can move on, and potentially raise transfer funds in the process.

Here we go…


There’s nothing to discuss here. Mamardashvili is doing a great job in goal and I’m currently in the midst of nailing him down to a 5 year contract with a minimum release clause of over £30m. He was an absolute bargain for £1.2m.

Central Defenders

On paper, Joris Gnagnon is our best central defender, whilst Arnau Martinez is our most promising. Santiago Bueno is also a good prospect who’s seen a lot of playing time this last season, and Aldair Fuentes provides solid cover when needed. We then have the two elder statesmen, who’ve been the backbone of the side for a few years: Bernardo and Juanpe.

Let’s see how they’ve all performed:

Firstly, I’m disappointed with all their tackling % and it’s something which I think probably needs attention. Only Bueno is in the high 70’s which is where I’d want them all to be.

Due to his excellent on the ball skills, I was hoping to craft Martinez – naturally a fullback – into a really good ball playing or wide central defender, however you can see from his stats I don’t he’s quite cut out for this system. He’s only 6’0″ and his 14 heading and 12 jumping reach means he’s only winning 65% of headers. He’s also only winning 68% of tackles. Not good.

I also think he’d be wasted as a wingback in our system BUT I think he’s going to make the perfect defensive midfielder or deep lying playmaker, with a bit of retraining:

Bernardo is still performing at an acceptable level but Juanpe is clearly finished when it comes to La Liga football and I’ll be looking to move him on before the start of next season.


Our starters for the season were Felipe Cruz on the right, and David Junca on the left. However, Junca picking up various injuries meant he only started the same amount of game as his backup, the on-loan Melvin Bard.

Cruz was by far the best of the bunch, connecting 19% of his 324 crosses, which as we have no aerial threat up front isn’t too bad! He also notched up over 3 key passes per game. His back up Calavera, performed admirably enough and I’m happy to go into season 4 with both.

On the left, although not as good as Cruz, a combination of Junca and Bard did ok. Bard is the better crosser, whilst Junca completes more passes and is better defensively. Ideally I’d like to upgrade this position and I certainly can’t afford the buying option on Bard’s loan.

I’ll be bringing in either a back-up to Junca or his replacement, depending on what financial wriggle room we have and who’s available.


Like most, when I have a midfield 3 I like to split them into destroyers, creators and runners.

Let’s start with the destroyers, who will have been in a Ball Winning Midfielder role most of the season.

  • Gonzalez
  • Kebe
  • Fuentes

The most dedicated to the ball winning midfielder role was clearly Gonzalez, winning 80% of his 3.19 tackles per game, and 1.23 interceptions. Fuentes, who also spent time as a central defender and a “runner” was nowhere near as effective as Gonzalez, and Kebe, was downright disappointing, winning only 63% of his tackles.

Look at Gonzalez! #outlier

Interestingly, Kebe got on the ball the most of all midfielders (81 times per game) and completed 92% of them. Maybe his role should be re-considered.

What would you do with Kebe?

Our “runners” for the season were mainly:

  • Romdhane
  • Garcia

Both are multi-faceted midfielders who are also skilled playmakers and have defensive qualities.

Romdhane started 7 more games but their per 90 stats are quite similar. He has the better defensive stats, with a 89% tackle ratio and 1.61 interceptions, whereas Garcia has slightly better passing stats and very narrowly creates more changes per game 0.58 vs 0.56. Romdhane, however, has the better goal (3) and assist (5) output.

Garcia isn’t going to get much better though, and if I can get £5m for him he might have to go to raise fund for elsewhere…

And finally, onto our creators. We technically have four players for this role, However, Saiz and Ballo have only made a couple of appearances so I wont include them in the analysis.

  • Stengs
  • Essahel
  • Saiz
  • Ballo

Stengs notched up an impressive 5 goals and 12 assist and has produced some magical moments, some of which I’ve included as gifs in recent updates. Well worth his £8m+ price tag.

This has meant chances have appeared sparingly for the others.

Essahel managed 5 starts and 16 sub appearances, and put up an impressive 2.12 key passes per 90 which shows he could turn into quite a player given a proper run in the starting 11.

Samu Saiz has a bad leg break at the end of the previous season and only managed 1 appearance this time. A broken leg at the age of 32 meant his physicals have taken quite a hit but his technical and mental attributes are still impressive. I’m a massive fan of his in real life, so I’d be sad to move him on, however this isn’t a time to be sentimental.

Keep? or move on?

Ballo was signed half way through the season as one for the future and spent most of his time in the B-Team, making only a few first team appearances off the bench during cup games. So, although he’s showing 11 games and 4 goals, his actual first team output was 1 goal and 1 assist in 3 appearances.

I clearly have a lot of depth here which is A) blocking a playing pathway for youngsters, B) wages I don’t need to be paying and C) potential transfer money if I can sell them.

The player who immediately jumps out at me is Aleix Garcia. Although he’s a good, and versatile player, he’s never been able to command a starting role and for the third year in a row he’s appeared in the wrong box on a couple of the data hub charts:

He’s leading the midfield in possession lost and also well below La Liga average for pass completion… way behind Romdhane, Kebe and Gonzalez.

Another whose future I need to carefully consider is Essahel. He has lots of promise, and he’s had interest from a couple of teams over the last season. It’s possible he’ll also block the progress of a more talented youth team player… so again, as much as I don’t want him to leave, he might have to either go out on loan or leave permanently so I can strengthen elsewhere.


Ahh, the bane of my very existence. Strikers.

  • Ganago
  • Kalimuendo
  • Bustos
  • Stuani
  • Gallar

Ganago, our £1.8m signing at the start of the season, had a decent year notching up 12 goals and 4 assists. He was the only real constant in the line up.

Gallar, who is more of a winger, played sparingly and was out on loan most of the season and Stuani made some appearances, and in fairness I probably should have played him more as he still has the mental and technical attributes, even if he can’t run.

The main focus for me is with Bustos, our long-term loanee from parent club Man City, and Kalimuendo, on loan from PSG with a £4.5m option to buy. Neither are what I’m looking for as a partner for Ganago for the upcoming season. They’re both quite creative and I thought having them dropping off Ganago – who is a pure striker – would work well, but it hasn’t really, so I’m aiming to go back to a big man, little man combo up top.

However I feel both players represent good value. Getting Kalimuendo for £4.5m would be good business, and Bustos, valued at £17m, has a Man City contract which expires at the end of this coming season so if I can have him on loan again I might be able to sign him on a free if I get him onside and City don’t renew him. Bustos is also a good option when switching to the back-up 3-4-3 as he can play out wide.

Anyway, enough talking, let’s look at the stats.

Ganago just edges it in terms of goals per 90, however he was used in the main striker role all season. Bustos appears to be the most accurate shooter, getting 53% of his 2.51 shots a game on target, and narrowly edging Ganago. He also won 46% of headers on 3.47 attempts per game. He also appears to be the most creative, with 1.02 key passes and 0.27 chances created per game.

So basically, my best striker could be the one of the main 3 I’ve played the least!

This is why this kind of analysis is so important!!

In a few sentences I’ve gone from “I don’t think I need Bustos, he’s the worst of the main 3” to “actually… he’s pretty good and I should’ve played him a lot more”.

Do I now try to keep Bustos as my main striker and capitalise on the form of Ganago who is now valued at around £9m?

Stuani is doing ok when he plays, and if his attributes don’t decline much more could probably do a job off the bench for another season. He’s a very influential player in the squad. However, he’s on £35k per week and I might need to get rid of that burden to readjust some budgets…

As you can see, there’s some tough decisions to be made.

Youth Focus

We’ve had a few good youth intakes, as well as made a couple of low-key signings for younger players to develop. Now we’re heading into the fourth season we should have some of these youngsters knocking on the doors of the first team squad, or for a place in the starting line ups.

Let’s see who these prospects are:

Thierno Ballo

Signed as a free agent after being released by Chelsea, Ballo went straight into our B-Team, where he scored 4 goals in 11 games, and has potential to develop into a La Liga player.

Whilst he’s not the finished article yet, he’s definitely ready for a bigger role in and around the first team squad, or a loan to a La Liga 2 team.

Vincente Taboada

Seventeen-year-old Taboada has spent the second-half of this season on loan at Mirandes and, as you can see, is developing beautifully.

He’s a very skilled playmaker, but as I don’t play with wingers I might retain him as a central midfielder. I just need to get that Work Rate up! I think it’s safe to say he’s ready to make a lot of appearances off the bench this season – possibly in place of Essahel, as mentioned earlier.

Biel Munarriz

A 5’5″ pocket rocket who will hopefully shoot up a few inches. His attributes appear quite contradictory to each other. He’s a very good passer, but doesn’t (yet) have good vision… He’s got very good teamwork and work rate, but doesn’t have the stamina and pace to help him get around as much as he’s like.

Once his physicals develop he’s going to be a very good player. I’m not sure he’s ready for the first team squad quite yet as I think a season on loan, possibly in La Liga 2 would benefit him more.

Kemo Cisse

6’3″ tall, quick and decent finishing stats. At 21, he’s clearly not the finished product yet and I think a season out on loan in La Liga 2, or equivalent, would bring on those mental and technical attributes some more and he’ll hopefully be in contention. Last season he scored 12 goals in 33 games for Real Union in what is the Spanish 3rd division.


The man known simply as “David” was picked up as a free agent last pre-season. He’s 21 but as you can see, still has a lot of developing to do.

With some solid mentoring I don’t think he’s too far off a place in the first team squad. If I can just get that stamina up a bit.

Ivan Marmol

What to do with Marmol?! Only 5’7″ but has good pace and good dribbling, which should get even better when his technique improves.

And look at that 18 aggression!!

He’s got the ball skills, he’s got the aggression, and the team work, the pace and the stamina… could he be retrained to be the next great right wingback?

OR, as my good friend Chris recommended, he’d make a good Advanced Forward.

Ideally, I’d like to find him a place in the first team squad now as he’s only 16 and is going to develop beautifully.

Robert Munoz-Bonilla

Munoz-Bonilla is a very good prospect at centre back. We just need his physicals to improve some more and then we can work on his technicals and mentals. I’ll probably look to get him loaned out this coming season and hopefully he’ll develop well.

So, depending on how the pre-season goes there’s definitely a couple of young players who could step in if or when needed.

As you can see, there’s a lot of very important decisions to be made.

What would YOU do?

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