Last time out we discussed a short term strategy centered on finding value in the MLS. There will still be time to unearth more value there as we observe the pre-season games. And in the J-League too.
That’s my preferred approach right now because as I say – next season is a long time to wait and I want to actually play the game!
Today though let’s think about an alternative strategy that is also widely discussed – targetting players from the Belgian Jupiler Pro League. Here, the season is coming to an end so it stands to reason that prices would be dropping. Right? Riiiiight?
Well yes. And no.
Sorare has a lot of collectors in the game who are quite happy to be patient and aren’t all that fussed about the fixture calendar. And also – as a widely discussed strategy – the “just go for the Belgian League and be patient” approach does not work if everyone is doing it.
What worked last week or last month often doesn’t work today.
I’ll discuss my thoughts on this and then think about how we might execute a patient strategy effectively from here.
Note I’m going to be giving prices in Ethereum from now on (“ETH”) as I think this reflects reality more. I’ve included a currency converter at the end for ease. At time of writing 0.100 Eth is £133.7.
This strategy of exploiting the “end of season sell off” in the Belgian League and waiting for next season seems logical and even simple. It is not quite that simple, though!
In order to make all that waiting worth it, you need to be getting the player at a price you are very confident is lower than they will be in say early July as the new season approaches.
And crucially, you need them also to be very obviously good to casual observers so that they get predictable buying as the new season draws closer.
Yet for many of the bigger and more obvious names in the Belgian League (i.e those who scored and assisted a lot recently) prices have not dropped, and some have even risen.
Let’s see some examples that highlight the sorts of things we need to consider.
Gianni Bruno - 29 - Zulte Waregem
Currently 3rd top scorer in the League and coming off superb 2021 form with 9 goals and 2 assists – he is going to be no secret even to casual players whose research extends to finding a top scorers chart.
Whilst in other strategies we want to find players that are good but flying under the radar – in this “end of season” strategy we want players that are very obviously good so that demand increases for them again in pre-season around July.
Gianni Bruno fits this bill.
And he’s also a smart choice if you did want to take him into the season itself. Whilst he has big explosive scores in him he has a wider contribution to the game, so even if he doesn’t get a goal he shouldn’t be a total dead weight.
The only issue is the price which has remained stubbornly high, rising strongly this month despite the end of season and relatively stable Eth. Most Offers are in the 0.390 ETH range although there is one person willing to go for 0.255 ETH right now which shows you can always catch that odd bargain.
Particularly at that low bid you can justify this for a patient pick. As you creep towards 0.400 ETH though… we know good players in the MLS who will be playing games soon can still be had for that price.
You could also pick up someone like Thomas Henry at Oud-Heverlee in a similar vein. Again you can expect significant interest for next season because he’s such an obvious goalscorer. And for offers around 0.320+ this really isn’t bad value in itself.
So whilst there is merit in both of the above, it also highlights a key issue with this strategy.
Not only do these players need to be great value – they need to be such good value that we are willing to give up 3-5 months of MLS/J-League games where we could well win cards and grind out some Eth threshold wins.
See how this patient strategy is not as straight forward as it first sounds?
Junya Ito - 28 - Genk
Ito is a great fit for the scoring system and will probably see plenty of attention as the next season draws closer. He has racked up 10 goals and 8 assists so again he ticks that “obvious” box which we are looking for with this strategy.
Interestingly though, recent scoring/assist form has not been brilliant, and in 2021 he has likely significantly underperformed. He’s dropped quite a few weak scores in 2021 where he was actually really close to a bigger one.
So he’s likely even better than a basic reading of his recent scores would indicate. Which often opens up a value opportunity.
Except again here the price remains stubbornly high because he is quite well known. 0.400 to 0.500 ETH the current going rate, much higher than he was a month ago.
I’d be very happy to enter a season with Ito and would consider him well worth that money. But again, do I want to sit on him and let months of MLS/J-League action go by when I could be winning there? Probably not.
Maybe we should try another angle?
We are encountering a clear problem above. Patient “end of season sell off” strategies rely on being able to buy obviously good players for great value, trading off shorter term wins for a fairly predictable price rise later on.
Often it is possible to get such players cheaply towards the end of a season because not everyone has that kind of patience.
But not so much here, possibly because it is just too obvious a strategy and there is just too narrow a focus on the Belgian League right now as it is the League that ends soonest.
Where we might have a bit more luck is in targetting a developing player or a potential transfer – a player who would be decent to hold into the next Belgian season if we have to, but if we are lucky, might end up at a bigger European club.
This sweetens the deal a bit – as we have a potential reason for a significant price rise sooner. It helps them compete with the temptations in the MLS or other Leagues active over the Summer.
Paul Onuachu - 26 - Genk
This man might fit the bill.
Very likely to finish as the Belgian Leagues top scorer and has strong transfer rumours, particularly to Lyon. That’s a credible move – Lyon are expected to lose key stars this Summer like Depay and Aouar and will need reinforcements.
That’s helpful because Lyon are actually on Sorare where as many bigger clubs aren’t. Yet.
He isn’t a superb fit for the scoring system – he very much needs goals and will likely deliver a poor score without one.
Just as well he has the threat to be scoring most games then, at least in the Belgian league. As we know, big goal tallys in weak Leagues do not always translate to the big time – but not everyone knows that so it is rarely a problem whilst the transfer hype is building. And Ligue 1 is a fairly soft destination anyway.
Offers are currently around 0.399 ETH with one as low as 0.339 ETH. In the lower end of that range I can see a decent case to be made for him if following a patient strategy.
He’d be good to take into next season at Genk if the move does not happen and a move to a big club might get him some interest in the shorter term as well. This compensates a bit for him not being able to play in competitions until August.
Noa Lang - 21 - Club Brugge (Ajax loanee)
I almost didn’t include Lang in this value themed article because he is likely to come in at just under 1 ETH which is not cheap.
But if looking for a luxury player or for those on higher budgets – Lang looks the real deal. Not only does he come with strong goal and assist potential, he also makes a big overall contribution to the game so he can deliver a decent score on his baseline numbers alone.
He has taken a little dip after a recent injury but it seems that isn’t going to keep him out too long – not a major problem for a patient holder.
Whether he continues for Brugge next season, or ends up back at Ajax or even moves somewhere like AC Milan as rumoured, he looks a slam dunk fit for the scoring system and could do really well in future seasons.
Pricey, but with good reason. So if you are patient or just not particularly fixture concious I’d consider him value – which is not always the same thing as cheap.
Charles De Ketelaere - 20 - Club Brugge
In a similar vein to Lang, you could go for the cheaper Charles De Ketelaere at Club Brugge.
He is just 20 and hasn’t had quite the same impact as Lang this season. However De Ketelaere has all the ingredients for big scores if he gets more consistent minutes next term and provided his finishing improves.
He’s certainly had the chances to get many more goals and assists than he managed this term, he’s underperformed if anything.
Going for players who haven’t quite proven themselves yet carries additional risk as you are backing them to progress.
But given he is selling for around 0.300 ETH I’d call that value for a high potential young player. He could get a move this Summer but staying at Brugge next campaign would be just fine too, in fact probably preferable.
Under the Radar
Just like we are doing in the MLS – we could find some “moneyball” under the radar picks in the Belgian League.
The problem we have when going for a patient strategy though is that in order to attract buying as next season approaches – being under the radar is a massive hindrance! It is possible to be too clever sometimes.
Once the few remaining games of the season are done, there are no games in the Belgian League for any under rated players to reveal their strength until August. Finding quality unknown players only works for us if they have the chance to actually win people over with consistent big scores.
And because such players are by nature not obvious, there is probably no need to pick them up as priorities now anyway – we could wait until next season is closer.
If we are going for Under the Radar picks – why not get them in the MLS or similar and actually be able to play them!? It’s still possible.
But let’s say we were determined to find some great under the radar picks in the Belgian League. Who might we go for?
Bryan Heynen - 24 - Genk
Heynen looks a very solid and reliable performer.
Club captain, with a newly signed long contract, he recovered from a major injury in October 2020 and so does not have a long SO5 scoring history.
And whilst his recent scoring record is decent, he has likely underperformed particularly in his assist output. Whilst he has 3 assists in 2021 this could have been 5-6 given the chances he has been teeing up.
And whilst he hasn’t scored in 2021, he has a little bit of threat, perhaps enough for a goal every 7-8 games.
Plus his all round game will give him a decent average when he doesn’t score or assist.
Heynen can be had for 0.170 ETH or so which is great value for what he is.
Ruud Vormer - 32 - Club Brugge
On a budget making use of elite veterans is often a great play, particularly early season when they have a long season ahead.
Assuming Vormer is still around for the next campaign, and he probably will be based on contract length and performances, he looks a slam dunk value performer with both goal and assist potential plus a high general average to pick him up on the days he blanks.
At just under 0.200 ETH he looks a performance bargain.
Whilst I would go for a veteran in the MLS like Valeri in the last article – I am however less inclinced to sign up Belgian league veterans now. We really need veterans to be delivering in the here and now.
And he’s not particularly sexy so I can’t imagine there would be a rush towards him anytime soon. One for the backburner, I feel.
Micheal Murillo - 25 - Anderlecht
Here is an example of some very good value in the Jupiler Pro.
The reason I’d pick him over other Anderlecht defenders with higher average scores is that Murillo has strong assist potential that has not been coming through too often, particularly in 2021.
But he’s creating regular chances and could be posting explosive scores more often than he has.
Available for just 0.100 ETH or even less – this is getting cheap enough where picking him up and waiting can start to seem sensible.
The only issue I’d have here is… there is probably no need to rush towards players who are this low key – we will probably be able to find good value in the Belgian League a month or two out from the season start.
You can dig out some value in the Belgian Jupiler Pro.
Whether it is an optimal strategy, or even an optimal strategy for a patient trader preparing for next season – I am not convinced.
Value can still be found in the MLS or J-League – and for a new entrant to the game – I think it’s important to actually play the game because without that getting bored and disengaging is a real risk.
And there are months ahead in the MLS and J-League, where if you back yourself and make good choices, you have a decent chance of winning some cards and grinding out a significant amount of Eth through threshold wins.
So I would consider that the best path right now, for those who are capable of finding competitive players at value prices. Which is not easy.
And whilst a patient trader could target some Belgian players now (someone like De Ketelaere comes to mind) I see no particular reason to box ourselves into this waffle and Leffe filled cul-de-sac right now. Delicious though it may be.
If patience is our game, we have a ton of major Leagues winding down in the next month or two, all of which will be getting going again at around the same time as the Jupiler Pro.
In my view there is no need for a patient next season strategy to focus on the Belgian league in particular – this is very limiting. And the problem with obvious events like the Belgian League being the first to wind down is that everyone talks about it and it just funnels people onto the same territory.
This can mean that what was a good future trend to target a week or two ago is not actually the best thing you can do today.
In the coming days I’ll be looking at the MLS, J-League for shorter term value targets, plus targets outside of the Belgian League that could suit a patient “build for next season” strategy.