Last updated on November 16th, 2022
One of the biggest joys of playing Football Manager is seeing a player rise through the heights of your academy and into your first team and then become a world-class player that helps you win multiple Champions League titles or major trophies.
This is literally the stuff FM dreams are made of!
This also applies to buying a young player for cheap and developing him into a world star. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re grooming a real-life youngster or a Paraguayan regen, they may never become world-class stars unless you find a way to help them reach their full potential.
If you want to ensure your youngsters reach their full potential, there are some things you can do to help them. Because once you get it wrong in their youth, teens, it may be almost impossible for them to recover.
Here, I’ll show you everything you need to know about player potential in Football Manager and how you can guide your players to the top of the game.
Understanding Player Potential in Football Manager
To determine the quality and future quality (potential) of a player, Football Manager uses two metrics:
- Current Ability (CA)
- Potential Ability (PA)
These numbers range from 0-200 and are assigned to every player in the game. 0 is the lowest, which is highly impossible, while 200 is the highest, also very rare.
Current Ability is a measure of the current level the player is playing at that particular moment you’re looking at his profile. Most established players have a preset CA that’s constant when you start a new save.
Regens and some players in the lower leagues have CAs that are randomised and change with every save.
Nevertheless, a player’s Current Ability is never constant. For example, Kylian Mbappe may have a 194 CA when you start a save but he may suffer from a serious injury like an Achilles Tendon rupture in his first few games. As a result, he might never recover enough to reach that CA rating!
A player’s Potential Ability is a rating that dictates the highest possible level he can reach before he retires. Unlike Current Ability, Potential Ability isn’t dynamic, and the rating remains constant throughout the save.
If you can successfully train an excellent player to reach his maximum PA, you’ll have one of the world’s best stars in your hands!
How You Can Check CA and PA in Football Manager
Unless you have a custom skin or bought the in-game editor, the actual number ratings of players CA and PA are hidden. This makes the game more interesting because if everyone could see the Potential Ability and Current Ability ratings of all the players, you’d only buy a select few players with High PA and CA therefore killing the suspense and fun of the game.
Nevertheless, you’re not entirely in the dark. The actual CA and PA rating is hidden, but players can judge potential through Ability Stars.
Every player has two sets of five stars; one for their current status and the other for their expected status. Your Scouts, General Manager, Assistant Manager, and team coaches give these stars to the players.
Ability Stars can be misleading at times because they mainly depend on the ability of your staff to judge a player’s Current and Potential Ability. However, they are the closest you’ll get to know your player’s potential, and if you employ very experienced staff, you should be able to rely on their judgment most of the time without worry.
How To Make A Player Reach His Full Potential
Aside from the joy that comes with it, there are many other benefits of developing youth players to their full potential.
Firstly, you save money you’d have used to buy quality players and just use yours. Moreover, even if the player reaches his full potential and isn’t good enough for your team or doesn’t fit your style of play, you can sell him for a massive profit and use the money to develop other areas of your squad.
Here are some of the best tips to help your players reach their full potential.
#1 Find The Player’s Best Position and Stick With It
Versatility in football is great. It always feels good to have a player that can play as a winger, wingback, and fullback. These players can serve as wonderful backups, especially when you have limited spaces on your bench.
However, the sad truth is that a player capable of playing three or more positions cannot be excellent at any of them. He’ll be decent, maybe really good in some of the positions, but he may never reach his full potential in any of them.
When a young regen comes up through your youth intake, or you sign one, the first thing to do is find their natural position and assign them to train only in that position.
Sometimes, a player’s natural position might be wingback, but he has the qualities to become a good winger. If he’s still young, 16 & below, you can assign him to train as a winger.
Try to be specific when assigning these roles!
For example, if you’re assigning a Fullback position, indicate whether it’s a Defend, Support, or Attacking role (Fullback (Su) or Fullback (At).
Furthermore, check the player’s attributes for the role you assigned him. If you notice that anyone is weak, assign that as an additional focus in training. The player will individually train to improve that particular attribute.
Dylan Borreron was my best backup in the Championship but after two seasons in the EPL, his versatility was of no use to me as I had good squad depth. He couldn’t secure a starting position in any of his 8 roles so I sold him.
If you’ve played Football Manager for a while, you know that Technical and Physical Attributes are useless without good Mental Attributes. A player might have a five-star PA rating at only 15 years, but with low Determination or Work Rate ratings, he might never reach 3 stars.
While there are multiple ways to improve a player’s determination and mental attributes, Mentoring is one of the most effective. In any team I manage as Football Manager, I always ensure I have at least one old, experienced forward, midfielder, and defender. The aim is to place them in charge of mentoring groups for the youngsters in my team.
In previous FM editions, you could assign a personal tutor to any player, but that has been replaced with mentoring groups, which are much more effective because players in the group can pick up helpful traits and attributes from each other.
Remember that one of the primary goals of mentoring is to improve the mental attributes of your youngsters, so the older players must have high Determination ratings and a good personality.
You can find out how to improve your player’s determination here.
Play Your Players At Higher Levels
Playing experience is paramount to the success of any player. It’s even better when they play at a higher level. If you have a player bossing your U-18 league, move him to the U-23 squad and ensure he gets minutes. Him playing amongst higher calibre players will push him to improve and play to his maximum potential.
If it’s a U-23 player not too far from starting for your side, send him out a loan to a reputable club with players that are equal or better than him and also ensure that he’s a first-team or important player.
This way, he can get the playing time required to build experience.
If, however, you believe the player is too good to be loaned out, you can call him up to train with your main squad and bring him on as a late sub on games where you’re dominating with a high score or start him in a cup or league fixture against lesser sides. Over time, he’ll develop into one of your best players!
The Bottom Line
How you handle your wonder kid in Football Manager can determine if he’ll grow into a World Player of the Year winner or a fringe player in a Spanish Division 2 side. Although so many unexpected events like injuries can lead to the player not reaching his full potential, it only happens in rare cases, so you need to understand how to develop players effectively.
It doesn’t matter if you manage a top English side or a struggling team in the Vanarama National League; proper player development can save you money and make the game more enjoyable.
Firstly, always ensure you assign players to train in their natural position when they’re 16 or below. Also, put your youngsters in mentoring groups where they can learn from the more experienced veterans on your team. Lastly, and most importantly, ensure they get playing time at the level that matches their current ability.
It would also help if you remember that you can not always be lucky: players develop differently, and some don’t at all.
Following these steps will at least give you a chance!
You can find out how to fix your players not developing here.
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