#1: Mahathir Viatilingam (Goliathus), 1097 TPE at auction
Casper FC, $900k/week
A pro-ready playmaker who can play from deep or in the offensive third, Viatilingam has at least as many football technical skills as letters in his name and was arguably the most highly coveted player among the Prospect League. He owned one of the top-five ratings in the league as part of the Rotterdam Wolves throughout season one, and there has been little doubt as to his effect on the pitch, and forwards like Mikhail Potaitshuk and Goalz Reus will likely flourish as a result of this signing.
At the time of his auction, Viatilingam’s skillset was clearly fleshed out. He has high-quality and diverse technical skills – often regarded as one of the broadest categories of football skills – with pro-level passing, dribbling, technique, first touch, and free kicks. As a result he’ll be able to complete set plays nearly as well as he handles doling out and receiving passes in the offensive half. He’s passable at finishing and long shots – though that’s hardly his role on the team with multiple other attacking mids and forwards following the remainder of auctions – and to top things off, he’s capable of using his weak foot with some proficiency. As a result, among prospect leaguers he’s likely the most technically sound. Throw onto that a strong psyche and a nose for the game; he’s largely regarded to have the best vision of any of the Prospect League candidates, as well as a work rate and decision making ability approaching that of the Premier League’s best offensive midfielders. He’s cool under pressure, doesn’t get distracted by other players, and anticipates passes and clears better than most at his position.
He has a physical skillset that closely matches the position ideal: he’s able to get around defenders with his agility, keep up with some of the faster mids in the league, and doesn’t tire out easily. Provided all of these pluses, we do have to keep this signing in context: after a bidding war involving Key West, Brixton, and Casper, he went to the lattermost of these teams at a hefty sum of $900k per season. That’s not an insignificant price; he’s certainly the top prospect coming from the second league, but that kind of price tag doesn’t come without thorough consideration on the front office’s behalf.
Is he worth it? Provided his agent, the well-known Goliathus, is among the most active in the league and Viatilingam now has some of the best possible resources for improvement, he’s almost certainly worth the investment. Goliathus is clearly in the league for the long run and has earned his way past quite a few Premier League players in spite of an abbreviated timeline. Casper FC have quite a few active human players behind this Malaysian phenom, which means he’ll have many of the weapons he needs to be massively successful. Plus, he has 1184 TPE now; there’s some pretty concrete proof of his ongoing commitment.
#2: Levi Kerr (rieksts), 1035 TPE
Like Viatilingam, Levi Kerr plays midfield in a more offensively minded way, but can opt to play at the striker position instead of the deep-lying playmaker. The second best of the Prospect League candidates, Kerr is the yin to our #1’s yang, so-to-speak: his technical skills are oriented around keeping the ball once he has it, finessing his way past defenders, and making your goalie look like a fool. With 9 finishing, 8 dribbling, and 7 first touch, he’s certainly more at home deep in the offensive pitch than handling possession in the middle third. The Australian fits the ‘second striker’ label sometimes assigned to attacking midfielders, and thankfully has quite the supporting cast to get him there. Playmakers like Stevie Vassallo and Isaac Weezner are right at home feeding the ball to him.
Interestingly, the qualities that stand out most from a non-technical standpoint are Kerr’s penchant for flair, overall aggression in seizing possession from opposing mids and defenders, his decision-making skills, and teamwork. Each of these contribute to his efficacy as a forward and make for great highlight reels should he make it to the top of the Premier League. Beyond that, physically he has straight-line speed that rivals all but the top strikers in the league – making him all that more deadly a threat from the box.
At his current price of $300k/wk, Kerr comes at quite the discount compared to Viatilingam – and some of that won’t necessarily be easy to explain. But provided scoring-first players are slightly more common in the league, the “next-best replacement” to Kerr is probably slightly better than that for the Malaysian midfielder. Regardless, Malta has a strong builder in rieksts who has earned 50 TPE since the auction was first declared, meaning Stevie Vassallo has a remarkably strong weapon at his disposal for goal scoring and prospects for the future.
#3 Sydney Ramirez, 1019 TPE
Casper FC, $275k/wk
The first and only defender in this top five listing, Sydney Ramirez is perhaps the only Colombian player currently eligible for the Premier League. At the time of posting, she was the third-ranked prospect and has a pretty clearly slanted set of skills – all defense, with some options for passing in the works. Far from approaching a wingback or halfback gestalt, Ramirez effectively marks, tackles, and fights for possession with headers. Non-header efforts on goal are… uninspiring, to say the least, though she has shown some skill with dribbles and basic technique.
It will be quite difficult to convert Ramirez to anything resembling a true midfielder, though she has some proficiency with both anchoring a defensive line and playing stopper. She seems to have a nominal grasp of positioning and decision making, both of which should be helpful attributes should she force an offside trap or start an attack from deep within Casper’s defensive territory. With defenders like Hernando Brazoban and Ross Oliver already on board, the brief bidding process sending Ramirez to the Cattle Ranchers may end up being worthwhile.
That being said, let’s move off of my player sooner rather than later, shall we?
#4 Farley Hank, 984 TPE
A true striker masquerading as an attacking midfielder, Farley Hank takes some qualities of Levi Kerr and takes them to the extreme. He’s not terribly concerned with defensive tasks like marking or set pieces, instead spending virtually all of his practice time on sophisticated dribbling techniques and perfectly aimed screamers from inside the box. A flanking second striker, Farley Hank had his fair share of goals as Sydney Ramirez’s teammate and eventual all-star while on Madison United.
While Hank’s technical skills are fairly pointed, there’s much more to say about his fitness and mental approach to the game. Overall, he’s a fast and quick forward – similar to Levi Kerr – and focuses more on staying upright to push shots on goal. At the time of auction he’s shown some passing abilities and proficiency with long shots as well as headers, but those skills are relatively undeveloped in comparison to his finishing and dribbling abilities. Overall, he’s shown good-to-excellent decision-making skills and has a similar penchant for flair when compared to Kerr.
Off the pitch or between big plays, Hank has shown to be less restrained; he excels under pressure but has difficulty with even the basics of sportsmanship and holding his temper. He hasn’t gotten in much trouble for behavior as of yet, but oftentimes the best ability in sports is availability – and being sent off the pitch won’t help his team score goals. Regardless, Hank has a nose for scoring and at $110k a week was probably a steal for Malta if he continues to develop. He’s claimed 60 TPE since his auction started, so there’s certainly some support for that.
#5 Edwin van der Sloth, 909 TPE
Casper FC, $100k/wk
The last of our five players in these rankings is a fourth attacking midfielder in Edwin van der Sloth. However, unlike Viatilingam, Kerr, and Hank, Sloth can do a little bit of everything; he’s not specialized toward playmaking or finishing, and in fact is notable for set pieces over most everything else. This kind of player frankly hasn’t seen much representation in the GRSL across the Premier or Prospect Leagues, all things considered – most likely because users are inclined to produce functional field players before working on specialists.
That hasn’t mattered much for van der Sloth’s success, however, and with a number of non-set piece specialists on the field in Casper he’s likely found his niche for seasons to come. He has rudimentary skills on vision and decision-making that should supplement his playmaking ability and has enough proficiency with finishing and crossing that he’s certainly not a liability in the open field. It remains to be seen whether this kind of player with a broad skillset will be valued higher or lower than more traditional players. We also suspect there are very few engine gurus that would be able to speak more on that – so we’ll have to see how van der Sloth pans out as a result.
At $100k/wk, Casper has a valuable member of the attacking midfield, and the slow-but-steady midfielder (at least in name) will very likely be worth the money.