FM 18: Best Bargain central and defensive midfielders

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook

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)

Age: 33

Positions: M (C), DM

Club: Atletico Madrid

Country: Spain


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)


Age: 37

Positions: M (C)

Club: Al-Sadd

Country: Spain

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)

Age: 32

Positions: M (C), DM

Club: Feyenoord


Country: Morocco

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)


Age: 31

Positions: M (C), DM

Club: River Plate

Country: Argentina

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)

Age: 31

Positions: M (C), DM

Club: Boca Juniors


Country: Argentina

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

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)

Age: 34

Positions: DM

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Country: Italy

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)

Age: 35


Positions: DM

Club: Manchester United

Country: England

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)

Age: 30

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Pumas

Country: Chile


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)


Age: 34

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Besiktas

Country: Canada

Best attributes: 20 professionalism, 18 concentration, 18 anticipation

Value: £769,000

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)

Age: 33

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Espanyol


Country: Spain

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

Player A Pos Club Country CA/  PA V W
Michael Krohn-Dehli34M (CRL) AM (LC)SevillaDenmark139/ 146£1m£38k
Jose Sosa32M (C) AM (CTrabzonsporArgentina138/ 157£4m£8k
Tino Costa32M (C) DMAlmeriaArgentina137/ 148£2m£11k
Tomas Rosicky36M (CR) AM (RC)Sparta PragueCzech Rep136/ 165£250k£9k
Mateus Uribe26M (C) DM WB (R)AmericaColombia136/ 138£700k£8k
Bibras Natkho29M (C) DMCSKA MoscowIsrael135/ 141£3m£27k
Andre Horta20M (C) AM (LC)BragaPortugal134/ 160£1m£5k
Renato38M (C) DMSANBrazil134/ 145£1m£8k
Edgar Barreto32M (C) DMSampdoriaParaguay134/ 140£3m£38k
Dani Garcia27M (C) DMEibarSpain134/ 138£3m£16k
Ben Watson31M (C) DMWatfordEngland134/ 137£4m£17k
Jean31M (C) D (R) DM WB (R)SEPBrazil133/ 148£3m£12k
Ariel Cabral29M (CL) DMCECArgentina133/ 133£3m£17k
Clement Grenier26M (C) AM (C)LyonFrance132/ 143£1m£62k
Perparim Hetemaj30M (CRL)Chievo VeronaFinland132/ 140£5m£10k
Luca Rigoni32M (C) DM AM (R)GenoaItaly132/ 138£3m£16k
Vicente28M (C) DMLas PalmasSpain132/ 134£3m£3k
Alvaro Medran23M (C) AM (C)AlavesSpain131/ 146£3m£14k
Federico Mancuello28M (CRL) AM (RL)FLAArgentina131/ 145£3m£12k
Medhi Lacen33M (C) DMGetafeAlgeria131/ 139£1m£11k
Javi Espinosa23M (C) AM (LC)GranadaSpain131/ 138£3m£9k
Darko Brasanac25M (C) AM (C)LeganesSerbia131/ 138£1m£7k
Joe Ledley30M (C)DerbyWales131/ 134£4m£12k
Emil Hallfredsson33M (C)UdineseIceland130/ 143£2m£21k
Mikel Rico32M (C) DM AM (C)Athletic BilbaoSpain130/ 141£1m£15k
Tolgay Arslan26M (C) DMBesiktasGermany130/ 135£3m£31k
Dominik Kaiser28M (CR) AM (RC)RB LeipzigGermany130/ 130£3m£13k
Andre Martins27M (C) AM (C)OlympiakosPortugal130/ 135£1m£20k

More defensive midfield bargains

Player A Pos Club Country CA/  PA V W
Leonardo Ponzio35DM M (C)River PlateArgentina138/ 144£220k£4k
Lassana Diarra32DM M (C)Al-JaziraFrance136/ 158£3m£36k
Rodri21DM M (C)VillarrealSpain135/ 154£4m£20k
Manuel Iturra33DM M (C)NecaxaChile135/ 145£1m£15k
Souza28DM M (RC)FenerbahceBrazil135/ 140£4m£50k
Willian Arao25DM M (C)FLABrazil134/ 145£4m£7k
Jefferson Orejuela24DM M (C)FLUEcuador134/ 143£4m£11k
Alfred N’Diaye27DM M (C)WolvesSenegal133/ 145£3m£10k
Stijn Schaars33DM M (C)HeerenveenHolland134/ 135£2m£4k
Radosav Petrovic28DM M (C)SportingSerbia133/ 134£3m£14k
Wilmar Barrios23DM M (RC)Boca JuniorsColombia132/ 150£1m£4k
Victor Camarasa23DM M (C)Real HispalisSpain132/ 145£4m£15k
Charles Kabore29DM M (C)KrasnodarBurkina Faso132/ 139£4m£34k
Gareth Barry36DM M (C)West BromEngland131/ 155£1m£60k
Markel31DM M (C)GetafeSpain131/ 139£3m£7k
William Vainqueur28DM M (C)AntalyasporFrance131/ 131£4m£30k
Mehmet Topal31DM D (C) M (C)FenerbahceTurkey130/ 145£3m£45k
Hernani23DMSaint-EtienneBrazil130/ 144£4m£19k
Roman Neustadter29DM D (C) M (C)FenerbahceRussia130/ 143£4m£45k
Gustavo Cuellar24DM M (C)FLAColombia130/ 140£2m£6k
Guillaume Gillet33DM M (C)OlympiakosBelgium130/ 135£700k£22k
Alaixys Romao33DM M (C)OlympiakosTogo130/ 135£1m£16k

Who have you signed on FM 18? Let us know in the comments section below. 


Looking for wonderkids?

Best Wonderkid Centre Backs

Best Wonderkid Left Backs

Best Wonderkid Right Backs

Best Wonderkid Strikers

Best Wonderkid Attacking Midfielders

Best Wonderkid Brazilians


Best Wonderkid Goalkeepers

Best Spanish Wonderkids

On a tight budget?

Contract Expiry Signings

Bargain Centre Backs

Bargain Wingers

Bargain Strikers


Bargain Attacking Midfielders

Bargain Right Backs