To some extent, it is. Well, the scouting aspect at least anyway. Such is the power of the Football Manager scouting system that clubs have began to use it as a real-life tool to complement those already at their disposal. In an age of pervasive digital technology, it’s only natural that football digitises too.
RealSport have teamed up with Football Manager to bring you the top ten signings of this summer’s transfer window. We’ve spoken to the higher powers at Sports Interactive and this is what the iconic game has recommended…
1 Leon Goretzka to Arsenal
Current club: Schalke
Value: £17.25 million
Potential ability: 5*
Fans of Sports Interactive's iconic game will already be familiar with Leon Goretzka and what he's capable of, but his performances at the Confederations Cup perhaps brought him into the mainstream media that little bit further.
The 21-year-old has previously been linked with a move to Arsenal, but if Schalke respond anything like they do on the game, they're going to drive an extremely hard bargain given their reluctance to sell.
Goretzka is a complete midfielder. Hard-working (17) and determined (16), able to pick a pass (15) and create chances, as well as tackle (11). The German is, too, quick on the ball (16) and fit (16). His Confederations Cup performances demonstrated his dribbling ability, moreover, as well as his hunger for goals, as he scored three times.
The perfect replacement for 32-year-old injury-prone midfielder Santi Cazorla, and one that is versatile enough to fulfil a number of roles. A great addition to the Premier League.
2 Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City
Current club: Arsenal
Value: £50 million
Potential ability: 5*
And how would Arsenal finance a costly move for German star Goretzka? Well, Football Manager suggest that selling Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City is the means of doing so.
The Chilean has made no secret of his desire to leave the Emirates and with a year left on his contract, Arsene Wenger is ultimately forced into selling him to a Premier League rival.
In Sanchez, Pep Guardiola would be acquiring an elite footballer; a player of world-class ability to join his growing legion of superstars at the Etihad. Fast (16), agile (16) and fit (16), Sanchez is a fantastic athlete and a technically gifted footballer.
There's nothing the 27-year-old can't do; he dribbles (17), shoots (16) and passes (15), plus he's got the 'difference-maker' ability in terms of his flair (19).
Perhaps the two attributes that most endear him to Guardiola, though, are his work rate (19) and versatility. Capable of playing on either flank, through the middle or as a lone striker, Sanchez thrives wherever he plays, a quality Guardiola values greatly. He scored 24 league goals last season and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him start as City's striker should he take the well-trodden path from north London to Manchester.
3 Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool
Current club: Southampton
Value: £27.5 million
Potential ability: 4.5*
The one that got away... It's seemingly looking as such given Liverpool's failed attempt to prise him away from St Mary's Stadium earlier this summer and subsequent apology, but Jurgen Klopp hasn't yet given up hope of signing Virgil van Dijk.
It's easy to see why Klopp is so willing to sanction a £60 million deal to land van Dijk. The 26-year-old is rated as a 4.5* centre-back and would certainly improve Liverpool's defence, arguably the Achilles heel of their Premier League campaign.
The Dutchman is an absolute beast in the air (18), made easier by his phenomenal jumping reach (19) and one of the strongest centre-backs on the game (19).
He's just the right balance of aggression (17) and composure (15), plus his anticipation (15) allows him to be in the right place at the right time. Technically, van Dijk is a great tackler (15), plus he can pass (14) and dribble (13), which bode well for Klopp's 'play out of defence' philosophy.
Whether Liverpool get their man remains to be seen and the saga still brews, but it would be money well spent.
4 Zouhair Feddal to Southampton
Current club: Deportivo Alaves
Value: £2.6 million
Potential ability: 3*
If van Dijk were to move to Liverpool, Southampton will be in need of a replacement. Speculation suggests they could make a move for Tottenham's Kevin Wimmer, but perhaps a cheaper alternative would be for new boss Mauricio Pellegrino to raid former club Deportivo Alaves for Zouhair Feddal.
That's what Football Manager suggests at least.
Now at 28-years-old and only 3* current ability, there's no room for development when it comes to Feddal, but Pellegrino would be acquiring a centre-back he knows well, both of whom already familiar with one another's styles. That degree of familiarity and comfort goes a long way to easing the settling in process.
As centre-backs go, Feddal is solid if unspectacular. Technically speaking, the Moroccan can tackle (14), head (13) and mark (14) to a respectable level, though he's not a ball-playing defender in the same respect as van Dijk. Feddal, however, anticipates the game (16) better than the Dutchman. Consequently, the 28-year-old made a massive 162 clearances in La Liga last season, the fourth-highest of any player.
Maybe not the big name player Saints fans crave, but a realistic signing, undercutting the extortion of the English market, that Pellegrino knows well.
5 Christian Pulisic to Manchester United
Current club: Borussia Dortmund
Value: £21.5 million
Potential ability: 5*
Jose Mourinho has incessantly pursued Ivan Perisic over the summer transfer window to fill the dearth of quality he perceives to exist on the flanks, but Football Manager believe he's been chasing the wrong target!
Having missed out on Antoine Griezmann, it seems as though Mourinho was panic buying and more careful consideration could have led him to Christian Pulisic. The nifty American could well be the 'wow factor' final third difference-maker Mourinho's slightly blunt Manchester United side have needed.
Not only does Pulisic boast great technique (15) and a solid first touch (16), but he's a very capable passer (13) with fantastic vision (16) for a teenager. Moreover, he's an unpredictable winger due to his flair (17) and dribbling (15), that prefers to cut inside and fire shots away at goal.
What Mourinho might laud, too, is Pulisic's work rate (14) and level of teamwork (15), attributes that would theoretically serve him well in the Porgueuse's disciplined system.
This is the sort of player Mourinho is searching for and his three goals and six assists for Dortmund last year speaks volumes for his potential.
Branded as a 'wonderkid' for the future, with the versatility to play in a variety of positions and roles, there's a lot to be excited about it when it comes to the American.
6 Moussa Dembele to Everton
Current club: Celtic
Value: £5 million
Potential ability: 5*
Everton have been on something of a spending spree this summer, with no less than seven new faces adjusting to life at Goodison Park, all funded by the £75 million sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. What Ronald Koeman hasn't done, though, is replaced Lukaku's goals, hence Football Manager's recommendation of Moussa Dembele.
The Frenchman scored 17 goals on his way to the Scottish Premiership title and has earned plaudits from a host of top European clubs. Given his raw potential, it's easy to see why.
Dembele, like his Tottenham namesake, is strong on the ball (15), agile (14) and quick (15), able to hold up play as a lone striker and work his way into dangerous areas with his dribbling (14). Technically speaking, furthermore, the now 21-year-old can finish (14) and has shown a great instinct for where the goal is, able to anticipate (14) opportunities before they arise.
There's plenty there for Koeman to work with and the Dutchman is renowned for his development of young talent. Couple that with Everton's newfound ambition and it's a a fantastic place for Dembele to continue his development amongst a higher standard of player. For the rumoured £20 million, it's a steal.
7 Oliver Burke to Huddersfield Town
Current club: RB Leipzig
Value: £4.3 million
Potential ability: 5*
Now this would be a major coup for Huddersfield Town. Oliver Burke left Nottingham Forest to languish in the Championship to further his football education with Bundesliga new-boys RB Leipzig.
Burke has impressed in Germany during his debut campaign, but will find himself behind Emil Forsberg and new signing Bruma next season. Maybe it's time to test out the water in the Premier League...
Burke is a strong winger (14), capable of beating his man with speed (18) and trickery (13), giving him the attributes to succeed in the top-flight English football. Moreover, he's an impressive dribbler (14), but can also pass (12) and finish (13).
Bear in mind that he's just turned 20-years-old and there's a lot to be excited about. Moreover, the Scotsman thrived in Ralph Hasenhüttl's counter-pressing system, the same as that of David Wagner at John Smith's Stadium. The perfect match...
Huddersfield need some spark in the final third to survive in the Premier League and Burke can provide just that. This proposed move has all the potential to be benefit both the player and the club.
8 Phil Jones to AFC Bournemouth
Current club: Manchester United
Value: £18.75 million
Potential ability: 4*
Bournemouth had no trouble finding the back of the net last season, scoring 55 Premier League goals, one more than Manchester United and enough to rank them seventh overall in goals scored.
It was at the back that the Cherries struggled, with the fifth-worst defensive record in the league having conceded more than relegated Middlesbrough.
Eddie Howe's project is clear; blending youth and experience. However, he's yet to strike the right chord amongst his defenders and in Phil Jones he gets just that. Now at the age of 25, Jones is still young, though his experience defies his age, having spent six seasons at Old Trafford, making 168 appearances. Such knowledge will be vital to a club of Bournemouth's size and ambition.
Jones offers a good defensive complement to £20 million-man Nathan Ake. He's technically sound in defence, able to head (16), tackle (17) and mark (15), but what Howe will be fond of is his work rate (16), determination (19) and bravery (19). Such a character would make a great leader of the Cherries' defence.
The Englishman is also comfortable on the ball and his passing (13) allows him to play his way out of trouble if the situation dictates as much, in line with Howe's footballing philosophy.
9 Kylian Mbappe to Tottenham Hotspur
Current club: AS Monaco
Value: £4.7 million
Potential ability: 5*
If you listen closely, you can still hear Daniel Levy's wild fits of wild, such is the sheer ridiculousness of this transfer.
In truth, Tottenham do need a 'wow factor' wide player, a difference-maker with speed, trickery and goals, but to suggest a move for Kylian Mbappe is audacious, even for Football Manager's standards.
The 18-year-old is football's hottest property and nothing less than a fee over £100 million will prise him away from the Stade Louis II, perhaps just slightly out of Levy's comfort zone.
Naturally his attributes will be higher in the 2018 version of the game, but even now he's extremely impressive, especially for a teenager. His technique (16) and dribbling (15) are among his best attributes, but he offers unpredictability through his flair (17). What will catch Mauricio Pochettino's eye, moreover, is his determination (17) to succeed.
Mbappe is young, versatile, eager to learn and exciting, everything Pochettino looks for in a player. It's a shame this will never happen. Repeat, never.
10 Fernando Llorente to Chelsea
Current club: Swansea City
Value: £4.7 million
Potential ability: 3.5*
Chelsea may have just broken their transfer record to bring Alvaro Morata to Stamford Bridge, but there are question marks over his consistency and, as such, links to Fernando Llorente refuse to subside.
Whilst the Spaniard wouldn't start at Chelsea, having to settle for a place on the bench, he offers a alternate option to the personnel the Blues currently have and is a player that Conte knows well. The duo spent 2013/14 together at the Juventus Stadium, with Llorente scoring 16 goals.
Now 32, Llorente isn't as mobile as he once was and is therefore best deployed as a target man, given his heading (17) and jumping reach (17). It's how Conte utilised his talents in Turin and how he'd work best with Eden Hazard as the second striker in a 3-5-2 system.
His first touch (15) and passing (13) allow him to bring others into play, but Llorente can, too, finish (15), scoring 15 Premier League goals for the Swans. He's also a team player (16) and smart, often making the right decisions (17).
Not a starter by any means, but an experienced title-winner that offers a Plan B should Morata or Michy Batshuayi fail to replace the void left by Diego Costa.
Want to share your opinion? Why not write for us?