Vélez Sarsfield quickly progressed to the second tier of the new-look European Super League as we dominated the Rest of the World Africa division led by the talents of striker Endrick. Luckily, we managed to renew the youngster’s services for one more season, after he’d scored 64 in 70 league games over the last 2 seasons and scored twice on his Brazil debut over the summer.
Again, the new European Next Level League saw a mass of relegations and promotions that are easier to summarise with this image:
The vast sums of money available in the various leagues and competitions saw us finish the previous season with £100m available to spend. That was boosted by several sales, including older players like Lucas Janson and Walter Bou, and we wasted no time spending it to begin strengthening for the new season, which saw another £51m still available as the new season ticked over with £178m in the bank. But even more money came in as Datro Fofana moved to Krasnodar for a massive record sale of £88m before losing centre-back Dejan Kovacevic to his £16.5m minimum fee clause to Lyon on deadline day.
The first day of the transfer window saw seven players arrive at the club. The biggest signing was winger Roony Bardghji, for whom we met an active £39.5m relegation clause to again smash the club-record transfer. He was joined by centre-back Kaiky for £15m from Almeida, winger Issahaku Abdul Fatawu for £20m from Sporting, left-back Daudo Guindo for £15.5m from Leipzig, site favourite versatile full-back Josha Vagnoman for £10m from relegated Stuttgart and 18-year-old full-back Darcy Turner for £2.5m from Utrecht. We also agreed a season-long loan deal for Leipzig midfielder Ilaix Moriba.
A day later, we signed midfielder Sandry for £10m from Santos then loaned in another wonderkid attacker in Mathys Tel from Bayern. But we weren’t done there, also bringing in 18-year-old striker Niklas Dorr for £4.5m from Schalke, filling a much-needed role in goal with 18-year-old Dennis Seimen for £12.5m from Stuttgart, then loaning in more attack support in Hugo Novoa from Leipzig. But we ended the transfer window with £100m still to spend and £334m in the bank!
We changed up the formation at the end of last season, enabling a little more width and giving Endrick some more space up top. The 433 looks like this, with new boys Seimen, Vagnoman, Kaiky, Moriba, Roony and Tel coming in as starters.
Mad Finances in Next Level Cup
The season opened up with the Next Level Cup, which saw us take on Celtic in the first round. We drew 2-2 away then won 3-1 at home with goals from Franco Díaz, Endrick and Moriba. And that success earned a ridiculous £60m payout! That led into a second phase group that began with an Endrick hat-trick inspiring a 4-2 win over América de Cali before Roony and Endrick nicked a 2-1 win at Olimpia. We lost an exciting all-Argentinian clash 4-3 at home to River Plate with half a team due to international call-ups then only lost 2-1 away to them. But qualification was wrapped up by hammering Olimpia 5-2.
That took us back into knockout stages for the third round and we overcame Al-Ahly on penalties after a 1-1 draw, which bagged us another £60m. We also relied on penalties after a 0-0 at Club América, which took us into the semi-finals and earned a massive £85m!
Bizarrely, that sent us into a semi-final group of four teams with the top two progressing to the Final. We started with a 1-1 at PAOK then an early Tel goal and an Endrick double led a 3-0 win at home to Tigres. That teed up another big clash with River Plate, but even a 3-1 defeat was enough to progress.
So after three defeats and 9 goals conceded against River, they were the opponents in the Final at Old Trafford. But this time we came out on top in an absolute thriller led by the absolutely sublime Endrick. The striker scored inside 40 seconds only for River to go down the other and equalise then Roony made it 2-1 before Balogun got his second to equalise. But Endrick added his second just before the break then two late goals from Gianluca Prestianni sealed a 5-3 victory. We earned £50m for playing in the Final and an outrageous £170m for winning it!!
As if that wasn’t enough cup activity, we were also in the “Super Cup,” which was also a group stage that included Man City and caused fixture scheduling chaos with games every two days. We started with a loss at Lyon then hammered Hertha 4-0 and lost 4-2 at home to Celta then heavily rotated sides lost at Wolves and Club Brugge. But a rotated side also drew at Valencia and only lost 3-1 to a full-strength City and restricted Haaland to just 1 goal. But we unsurprisingly didn’t qualify from that silly competition.
Into European Next Level League
The bookies fancy our chances in Next Level, predicting a 5th-place finish at 17/2 to win the league behind runaway favourites Fulham (1/91), Sporting (7/2), Gladbach (4/1) and Al-Ahly (5/1).
We began at home to one of the favourites Al-Ahly and an Endrick brace led a 3-1 victory. Two more home games followed and a Dorr debut strike nicked a 1-0 over Werder Bremen then Roony and Dorr edged a 2-1 win over Galatasaray. A first away day clashed with 11 international call-ups and we unsurprisingly lost 1-0 at Red Bull Salzburg but Tel and Moriba edged a 2-1 win at América.
Consecutive 2-1 wins at home to Sporting and at Hoffenheim sent us top for the first time. And the good form continued, including hammering Gladbach 5-0 that saw Arsen Zakharyan get his first goal for the club and a 2-1 win at 2nd-place Fulham thanks to Bardghji and Endrick goals. And we hit the halfway mark of 15 games with a 4-point lead.
However, we lost the first game of the second half of the season at Galatasaray during another badly-timed international period. But Endrick goals nicked wins over América and Werder to extend the lead to 7 points. And Endrick was the hero again with both goals in a 2-1 win at 2nd-place Al-Ahly to move us 10 points clear of 3rd and looking good for promotion in the top 2. Indeed, heading into a month-long winter break, we’d played 21 of the 20-match season and led Al-Ahly by 8 points having played one extra game.
We resumed after the break by thumping Gladbach 6-1 away led by an Endrick hat-trick, which he repeated three games later in a 4-1 win at Celtic. That moved us 7 points clear of 2nd and 10 points clear of 3rd with 5 to play. A 3-0 win at bottom side St. Gallen took us to the brink of promotion. We blew our first chance as we lost 1-0 at home to Fulham and our second with a 2-1 defeat at home to 4th-place Freiburg. And we made it a third loss on the bounce at Sporting. But both Al-Ahly and Fulham also lost, so we won the league with a game to spare and in dreadful fashion! A fully rotated side lost a 4th in a row on the final day at Montpellier, but we still won the league by 3 points. And that bagged us £100m in prize money!
Endrick was easily the best player in the league, top-scoring with 24 in 22 and getting the highest average rating (7.60) and most player of the match awards (7). While Díaz topped the assists chart with 12 and Moriba had the second-best average rating of 7.28.
Plenty Of Promise At Vélez
This was another impressive season at Vélez, but the league was yet again pretty easy while the cup success was unexpected and extremely valuable. Yet again our star man was Endrick, who scored 41 in 38 games with a 7.65 average rating.
Pushing him close were Tel, who scored 15 and got 8 assists, Roony, who got 10 goals and 9 assists, and Díaz, who got a club-high 14 assists. While Moriba impressed in midfield with a 7.21 average rating.
The Vélez youth academy has been quietly churning out potential stars in the last three seasons. One of those became the youngest player in club history in the semi-final group as left-back Matías Pereyra came on as a sub aged 15 years and 133 days. He already looks brilliant at 15, but he’s not alone with the likes of midfielders Eduardo Bauzá and Nicolas Azcurra, another full-back Javier Domínguez and attacking midfielders Matías Costas and Julián Villarreal also coming through.
So there’s plenty of homegrown talent coming through in addition to some great new signings already arranged for the summer. And there’s likely to be much more of that coming as Vélez step up to the top tier of the European Super League with bundles of cash available.
Can we keep the good times going in the top-tier of this fictional database? Join us next Wednesday to find out!
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