Regardless of what formation you play on Football Manager, you will need central midfielders to run your team. With so many skills needed to play in the middle of the park, composure, strength, vision to name but a few, finding a top signing at a decent price is a tough ask. With seemingly countless players on FM 18, there is always someone out there, and we've managed to find the best central and defensive midfielders on the game available for £5 million or less.
Bargain central midfielders
Central midfielders need to have it all. They need to win the ball off the opponents, start up attacks with their passing and even chip in with the odd goal.
For a full list of ALL our bargain central and defensive midfielders, visit the table at the bottom of this page.
Gabi (CA 151 – PA 159)
Positions: M (C), DM
Club: Atletico Madrid
Best attributes: 19 loyalty, 19 professionalism, 18 concentration,
Value: £2.7 million
Wage: £64,500 a week
Atletico Madrid captain Gabi has been central to the clubs progression since joining the club in 2011. The central or defensive midfielder led Atletico to a famous La Liga title win in 2014, and although in recent years he is not a guaranteed name on the team sheet, his impact in the dressing room has galvanised this side.
The 33-year-old Spaniard has a very reliable 151 current ability score on FM 18, only a fall of eight from his 159 potential. For Gabi’s 19 loyalty, 19 professionalism and 18 concentration you will need just over £4 million with wages of £64,500 a week.
Xavi (CA 150 – PA 184)
Positions: M (C)
Best attributes: 20 passing, 20 first touch, 20 loyalty
Value: £1.4 million
Wage: £107,900 a week
Xavi may have just announced his retirement, but you can still snap him up on Football Manager 2018. The former Barcelona man travelled to Al-Sadd in Qatar to finish his career, after 18 seasons in Spain, during which he won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues along with his two European Championships and 2010 World Cup win.
The central midfielder can be yours for less than £2 million on the game, with wages of £107,900 a week. For that cost you will receive his 150 CA rating consisting of perfect 20 passing, 20 first touch and 20 loyalty. Xavi may be 37 and suffered a fall of 34 from his potential of 184 but he would still be a valuable acquisition.
Karim El Ahmadi (CA 147 – PA 147)
Positions: M (C), DM
Best attributes: 18 technique, 17 composure, 17 aggression
Value: £4.9 million
Wage: £9,900 a week
Aston Villa fans may remember Karim El Ahmadi from his time at Villa Park, but the 32-year-old has been a regular for Feyenoord since leaving the Premier League for Holland in 2014. The central or defensive midfielder was a rotation player last season as Feyenoord won a first Eredivisie title in 18 years, so he could be tempted by a move.
For El Ahmadi’s 147 CA you are looking at a price of £5 million and £9,900 a week wages. That’s a fair price given the Moroccan international is at his peak and offers 18 technique, 17 composure and 17 aggression.
Enzo Perez (CA 145 – PA 155)
Positions: M (C), DM
Club: River Plate
Best attributes: 17 dirtiness, 16 work rate, 15 determination
Value: £2.5 million
Wage: £7,300 a week
After a couple of turbulent seasons at Valencia, Enzo Perez has headed back to Argentina to join up with giants River Plate. The central midfielder has struggled to settle since leaving native side Estudiantes, heading to Benfica for just two-and-a-half seasons before moving to Spain. Despite this, the central or defensive midfielder has always been in and around the national set up, with 21 caps for Argentina to date.
17 dirtiness, 16 work rate and 15 determination give Perez a 145 CA rating, a fall of 10 from his 155 potential. A bid of around £4 million should be enough to get you the 31-year-old who has attributes of 17 dirtiness, 16 work rate and 15 determination on the game. His wages are currently £7,300 a week.
Fernando Gago (CA 140 – PA 154)
Positions: M (C), DM
Club: Boca Juniors
Best attributes: 18 adaptability, 17 professionalism, 17 determination
Value: £2 million
Wage: £7,100 a week
Another Argentine, but central or defensive midfielder Fernando Gago has a higher reputation. The 31-year-old has been at Boca Juniors for four years now after successful spells at Real Madrid, Roma and Valencia and has earned 61 caps for his country.
Gago’s 140 CA rating may have fallen from his 154 potential but he still has stats of 18 adaptability, 17 professionalism and 17 determination. Thos attributes will cost you just £3.5 million with wages of £7,100 a week.
Defensive midfielders offer more protection to the defence than central midfielders. Their number one priority is to not concede, but with more time on the ball deeper on the pitch, they can still hit devastating passes to shock opponents.
Thiago Motta (CA 147 – PA 163)
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Best attributes: 17 teamwork, 17 professionalism, 17 anticipation
Value: £1.7 million
Wage: £164,000 a week
Providing some much needed to steel to the Paris Saint-Germain side is veteran Thiago Motta. The 34-year-old defensive midfielder helps provide some balance to the attacking qualities of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. Despite playing for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan during his career, the Italian has found most consistency at PSG, winning four league titles back-to-back.
The two-time Champions League winner has a current ability rating of 147 on FM 18, with 17 teamwork, 17 professionalism, and 17 anticipation. It may be a fall from Motta’s 163 potential, but with a price of just £2.5 million you can’t really complain. You will need to negotiate with the player well though, with his current wages £164,000 a week.
Michael Carrick (CA 142 – PA 165)
Club: Manchester United
Best attributes: 19 professionalism, 19 temperament, 18 sportsmanship
Value: £2.3 million
Wage: £80,000 a week
Perhaps one of England’s most underrated footballers, Michael Carrick has always done the simple things well. The 35-year-old has five Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League to his name, playing over 450 times for Manchester United and is the current captain of the club.
The England international can be yours for a price of £3 million on FM, but with hefty wages of £80,000 a week. For Carrick’s experience and his attributes of 19 professionalism, 19 temperament and 18 sportsmanship it may just be worth it, and you could do a lot worse than his 142 CA rating, a fall of 23 from 165.
Marcelo Diaz (CA 140 – PA 140)
Positions: DM, M (C)
Best attributes: 18 pressure, 17 passing, 17 decisions
Value: £3.6 million
Wage: £22,000 a week
Never grabbing the headlines, but Chilean defensive or central midfielder Marcelo Diaz has a had a surprisingly successful career. The 30-year-old won four league titles in his homeland, then two more in Switzerland with Basel and then won back-to-back Copa Americas with the Chilean national side. Now back in Chile with Pumas, Diaz will be looking to add more titles to his trophy cabinet as he enters the final straight of his career.
The experienced Diaz is currently at his peak, with his current and potential ability scores both at 140. 18 pressure, 17 passing and 17 decisions help add to that rating, which will cost you close to £5 million and £22,000 a week.
Atiba Hutchinson (CA 140 – PA 140)
Positions: DM, M (C)
Best attributes: 20 professionalism, 18 concentration, 18 anticipation
Wage: £30,300 a week
One of Canada’s finest ever players, Abita Hutchison has been a European man plying his work in Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Turkey. The defensive or central midfielder has enjoyed most of his success with Besiktas where he has the won the Super Lig for the past two seasons. At the age of 34, it is now a race against time whether Hutchinson can become his country’s most-capped player with 12 more appearances needed to overtake Julian de Guzman.
With 20 professionalism, 18 concentration and 18 anticipation, Hutchinson can still be a valuable acquisition for your side. His maxed out 140 CA score illustrates his longevity, which can be yours for just £2 million and wages £30,300 a week.
Javi Fuego (CA 139 – PA 145)
Positions: DM, M (C)
Best attributes: 18 professionalism, 16 determination, 15 anticipation
Value: £1.8 million
Wage: £22,000 a week
A stalwart of La Liga, defensive or central midfielder Javi Fuego is currently at his fifth top flight Spanish club. The Espanyol man made his name at Sporting Gijon before a successful spell at Rayo Vallecano, getting them promoted form the Segunda Division in 2011.
The 33-year-old will set you back just £3 million on FM, with wages of only £22,000 a week. 18 professionalism, 16 determination and 15 anticipation aid his 139 CA rating, a fall of just six from his 145 potential.
More central midfield bargains
|Michael Krohn-Dehli||34||M (CRL) AM (LC)||Sevilla||Denmark||139/ 146||£1m||£38k|
|Jose Sosa||32||M (C) AM (C||Trabzonspor||Argentina||138/ 157||£4m||£8k|
|Tino Costa||32||M (C) DM||Almeria||Argentina||137/ 148||£2m||£11k|
|Tomas Rosicky||36||M (CR) AM (RC)||Sparta Prague||Czech Rep||136/ 165||£250k||£9k|
|Mateus Uribe||26||M (C) DM WB (R)||America||Colombia||136/ 138||£700k||£8k|
|Bibras Natkho||29||M (C) DM||CSKA Moscow||Israel||135/ 141||£3m||£27k|
|Andre Horta||20||M (C) AM (LC)||Braga||Portugal||134/ 160||£1m||£5k|
|Renato||38||M (C) DM||SAN||Brazil||134/ 145||£1m||£8k|
|Edgar Barreto||32||M (C) DM||Sampdoria||Paraguay||134/ 140||£3m||£38k|
|Dani Garcia||27||M (C) DM||Eibar||Spain||134/ 138||£3m||£16k|
|Ben Watson||31||M (C) DM||Watford||England||134/ 137||£4m||£17k|
|Jean||31||M (C) D (R) DM WB (R)||SEP||Brazil||133/ 148||£3m||£12k|
|Ariel Cabral||29||M (CL) DM||CEC||Argentina||133/ 133||£3m||£17k|
|Clement Grenier||26||M (C) AM (C)||Lyon||France||132/ 143||£1m||£62k|
|Perparim Hetemaj||30||M (CRL)||Chievo Verona||Finland||132/ 140||£5m||£10k|
|Luca Rigoni||32||M (C) DM AM (R)||Genoa||Italy||132/ 138||£3m||£16k|
|Vicente||28||M (C) DM||Las Palmas||Spain||132/ 134||£3m||£3k|
|Alvaro Medran||23||M (C) AM (C)||Alaves||Spain||131/ 146||£3m||£14k|
|Federico Mancuello||28||M (CRL) AM (RL)||FLA||Argentina||131/ 145||£3m||£12k|
|Medhi Lacen||33||M (C) DM||Getafe||Algeria||131/ 139||£1m||£11k|
|Javi Espinosa||23||M (C) AM (LC)||Granada||Spain||131/ 138||£3m||£9k|
|Darko Brasanac||25||M (C) AM (C)||Leganes||Serbia||131/ 138||£1m||£7k|
|Joe Ledley||30||M (C)||Derby||Wales||131/ 134||£4m||£12k|
|Emil Hallfredsson||33||M (C)||Udinese||Iceland||130/ 143||£2m||£21k|
|Mikel Rico||32||M (C) DM AM (C)||Athletic Bilbao||Spain||130/ 141||£1m||£15k|
|Tolgay Arslan||26||M (C) DM||Besiktas||Germany||130/ 135||£3m||£31k|
|Dominik Kaiser||28||M (CR) AM (RC)||RB Leipzig||Germany||130/ 130||£3m||£13k|
|Andre Martins||27||M (C) AM (C)||Olympiakos||Portugal||130/ 135||£1m||£20k|
More defensive midfield bargains
|Leonardo Ponzio||35||DM M (C)||River Plate||Argentina||138/ 144||£220k||£4k|
|Lassana Diarra||32||DM M (C)||Al-Jazira||France||136/ 158||£3m||£36k|
|Rodri||21||DM M (C)||Villarreal||Spain||135/ 154||£4m||£20k|
|Manuel Iturra||33||DM M (C)||Necaxa||Chile||135/ 145||£1m||£15k|
|Souza||28||DM M (RC)||Fenerbahce||Brazil||135/ 140||£4m||£50k|
|Willian Arao||25||DM M (C)||FLA||Brazil||134/ 145||£4m||£7k|
|Jefferson Orejuela||24||DM M (C)||FLU||Ecuador||134/ 143||£4m||£11k|
|Alfred N’Diaye||27||DM M (C)||Wolves||Senegal||133/ 145||£3m||£10k|
|Stijn Schaars||33||DM M (C)||Heerenveen||Holland||134/ 135||£2m||£4k|
|Radosav Petrovic||28||DM M (C)||Sporting||Serbia||133/ 134||£3m||£14k|
|Wilmar Barrios||23||DM M (RC)||Boca Juniors||Colombia||132/ 150||£1m||£4k|
|Victor Camarasa||23||DM M (C)||Real Hispalis||Spain||132/ 145||£4m||£15k|
|Charles Kabore||29||DM M (C)||Krasnodar||Burkina Faso||132/ 139||£4m||£34k|
|Gareth Barry||36||DM M (C)||West Brom||England||131/ 155||£1m||£60k|
|Markel||31||DM M (C)||Getafe||Spain||131/ 139||£3m||£7k|
|William Vainqueur||28||DM M (C)||Antalyaspor||France||131/ 131||£4m||£30k|
|Mehmet Topal||31||DM D (C) M (C)||Fenerbahce||Turkey||130/ 145||£3m||£45k|
|Roman Neustadter||29||DM D (C) M (C)||Fenerbahce||Russia||130/ 143||£4m||£45k|
|Gustavo Cuellar||24||DM M (C)||FLA||Colombia||130/ 140||£2m||£6k|
|Guillaume Gillet||33||DM M (C)||Olympiakos||Belgium||130/ 135||£700k||£22k|
|Alaixys Romao||33||DM M (C)||Olympiakos||Togo||130/ 135||£1m||£16k|
Who have you signed on FM 18? Let us know in the comments section below.
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