A midfielder can fall into a number of different categories, all equally important to your team. For example, you can have defence-minded ball-winners, deep-lying playmakers, box-to-box midfielders or the more attack-minded advanced playmakers. More often than not, these central players will form the crucial spine of your team and you build around their influence. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best bargain midfielders on a budget of under £10m, including their age, value, wages, current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA).
Cheick Tioté, 30, Defensive Midfielder, Newcastle (£4.8m, £40k p/w, CA 3 – PA 3)
For whatever reason, Tioté begins the game on the transfer list at Newcastle and they’re listening to offers of £2.4m. For that sort of money, sign the Ivorian up immediately as he’s certainly of Premier League quality even though he’s on a Championship club’s transfer list. You’d be signing an extremely brave (18), hard working (17) and strong (17) ball-winning midfielder. Technically, tackling (15) and marking (15) are his strongest attributes, as well as his great positioning (16) and teamwork (17). Given that all of his key stats are 15 or above, Tioté is well worth the money, despite his age of 30. He’ll still have a couple of seasons left in him for sure and would make a quality stopgap.
Sandro, 27, Defensive Midfielder, QPR (£7m, £40k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 2.5)
Whilst Sandro has had some problems with injury in recent years, he’s still a serious defensive option in the centre of your midfield as he’s strong (18), brave (18) and aggressive (16). Technically, the 27-year-old is fantastic at what he does; winning back the ball. This is because of his tackling (15), marking (14) and positioning (15). He’s also hard working (15) with a good level of teamwork (16). Don’t look to Sandro for creativity, however, as his vision is poor (9). Moreover, he’s not naturally fit (10), so, as I’ve said, may struggle with injuries, but for £6.25m (he’s on QPR’s transfer list), it’s an opportunity you can’t pass up.
Yann M’Vila, 26, Defensive Midfielder, Rubin Kazan (£4.5m, £60k p/w, CA 3.5 – PA 3.5)
Yann M’Vila has accepted his fate at Russian side Rubin and has resigned himself to leaving on a free transfer when his contract expires in June 2017. Either part with around £7m to sign him immediately or keep him shortlisted to pick him up for free next summer. M’Vila is a staple of previous Football Manager games and he’d be a great bargain signing on this year’s game. His wages of £60k p/w are the only drawback, however. Technically, he can tackle (17) and mark (14). Moreover, he’s hard working (15), determined (17) and has a good level of composure (17) and teamwork (17). Physically, he has great stamina (16) and a high level of natural fitness (18). If you’re in need of a cheap defensive midfielder, the 26-year-old Frenchman is your man.
Lucas Romero, 22, Central Midfielder, Cruzeiro (£2.8m, £10.75k p/w, CA 2 – PA 3.5)
Players in the Brazilian league are always slightly easier to sign as your club will usually be an upgrade from where they are at the moment. Same applies to Lucas Romero of Cruzeiro. The 22-year-old Argentinian is pretty versatile and could play as a box-to-box midfielder, ball-winning midfielder or deep-lying playmaker. This is because he can tackle (13), pass (14), works hard (16), has good vision (13) and is determined (14). He’s also naturally fit enough (16) to play as a box-to-box midfielder. I managed to sign him for around £9m, but be fast as the more interest there is in the player, the more money Cruzeiro will demand.
George Thorne, 23, Central Midfielder, Derby (£7.75m, £15k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 4)
If you negotiate with Derby, you’ll be able to pick up George Thorne for around £9m and you have to look at the signing as an investment for the future. His age of 23 means he can improve and you’d be able to sell him on for profit a couple of years down the line. Thorne would make a good deep-lying playmaker for lower Premier League sides from the beginning, though. He can pass (15), tackle (15), has good vision (13), works hard (15) and is brave (15). His versatility means you could deploy Thorne as a creative midfielder or in a defensive role. Since he provides a number of options, he’s certainly one to watch.
Nir Bitton, 24, Central Midfielder, Celtic (£2.2m, £12k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 2.5)
I’ve signed Celtic’s 24-year-old Israeli central midfielder on FM16 previously and, whilst he wasn’t spectacular, he was a good backup option to have and he’d be able of high enough quality to start for mid-table Premier League sides. His best position is as a deep-lying playmaker because of his range of passing (16), vision (15), first touch (15) and technique (14). Mentally, his composure (16), decision-making (17) and anticipation (15) are among his best attributes. It’s his physical stats that are less than impressive and probably the reason why he’s available for so cheap. Bitton isn’t strong or fit, but he does have decent stamina (12) on a game-by-game basis.
Juan Fernando Quintero, 23, Attacking Midfielder, Porto (£1.1m, £13.25k p/w, CA 2 – PA 3)
Porto’s 23-year-old Colombian playmaker is currently on loan at Medellin’s ‘B’ side in his native Colombia and, for whatever reason, the game doesn’t rate him too highly. However, any player of previous FM games will know that Quintero can become an absolute monster of a playmaker, racking up average ratings of 8.0 and over. If you do decide to sign him now, he’d be available for around £7m and he’d certainly be worth the money. This is because he’s technically sound with passing, dribbling, long shots and technique all rated 15. He’s also a threat from direct free kicks (17). He has decent vision (13) and composure (13), though his mental attributes will naturally improve over time.
Giorgian De Arrascaeta, 22, Attacking Midfielder, Cruzeiro (£4.9m, £9.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4.5)
Trawling the South American leagues unfortunately means that you may encounter third-party ownership, which is the case with De Arrascaeta. Although he’s available for around £4.5m, that’s the fee that goes to Cruzeiro and you’d have to pay a further £3.7m to his agent (who owns 80% of the player). Nonetheless, De Arrascaeta has the potential to develop into a world-class attacking midfielder. In terms of his role as an advanced playmaker, he can dribble (16), finish (13), pass (14) and his technique and first touch are also impressive (both 16). Bear in mind that the Uruguayan is only 22-year-old, moreover. Mentally, he’s tricky (flair 16), has decent vision (13) and decision-making (13).
Abel Casquete, 19, Attacking Midfielder, River Plate (£1m, £2.8k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 5)
Another playmaker coming out of the South American leagues is Abel Casquete from Argentina’s River Plate. He’s currently still in the reserve side and would be available for around £2m. He’s not an immediate starter, however, even though his attributes are impressive for a 19-year-old, so expect to wait a season or two before you really reap the rewards of this bargain attacking midfielder. His passing of 13, dribbling of 14 and technique of 15 will only improve if he’s played in a league of higher quality than Argentina. Moreover, the Ecuadorian teenager is already extremely determined (17), has a high level of flair (15), good vision (14) and composure (12), all the makings of a top class playmaker.
Sergio Canales, 25, Attacking Midfielder, Real Sociedad (£7m, £27k p/w, CA 3 – PA 3)
The great thing about Sergio Canales is that he can play as either an attacking midfielder, in the hole behind the striker, or in a deeper holding role. Therefore, he’s versatile and for roughly £9m would be a great signing for top six clubs. As an advanced playmaker, Canales would be best. This is because his first touch, technique and passing are all 17, as is his flair. The 25-year-old Spaniard is also composed (14), makes good decisions (14) and has good vision (15). Whilst he’s not the cheapest option, he’s definitely value for money.