Football Manager 2020 has been out for over a week now and as more and more players are beginning their FM journeys, it's becoming more important to know which players to invest in.
One of the many beauties to an FM save is moulding your chosen club to your liking. From the staff members to the tactics out on the pitch, the level of detailed offered in FM is unrivalled in the gaming sector.
Central midfielders provide the crucial link between the defence and attack in a football side and without them, goals would never get made, nor would the back line have any cover when the side is under threat.
Unlike the wonderkids in Football Manager, these players are good enough to play in Europe's top 5 leagues from the beginning of your save, making them an investment that begins to repay the club from the start.
How to choose the best Young Central Midfielders on Football Manager 2020
To qualify for this list, these players are aged 23 and under, and their best position is central midfield (MC).
These players must also have a fixed Potential Ability (PA) of at least 165, which means they can progress into the best players in their position on the planet. The players with the highest Current ability (CA) and have a 150-180 PA range have also been included.
CA and PA are hidden when in-game, and can only be viewed by using the Football Manager Editor tool or In-Game Editor.
Star ratings only reflect how good a player is in relation to your first team squad, so if you want accuracy you must follow the CA & PA.
For reference, all CA & PA values are out of 200 and highest-rated central midfielder in the game currently is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne with 188.
Arthur (CA 159 – PA 175)
Position(s): DM, M (C), AM (C)
Best Attributes: 18 passing, 18 anticipation, 16 balance
Value: £50 million
Wage: £99,000 a week
Most of the players on this list have their full international and club debuts still to come, but Arthur Melo is already a regular for his national team and club. The Brazilian has 20 caps to his name and has already made over 30 appearances for Barcelona since joining for £28 million.
Arthur has incredible mental stats, he's 15 or above in concentration, decisions, vision, flair and more, all of which are what you need in a Barca side. Physically, he's not the best, but the style of play that the Blaugrana subscribe to doesn't require midfielders to be combative.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (CA 155 – PA 169)
Position(s): DM, M (C), AM (C)
Best Attributes: 17 corners, 17 teamwork, 16 crossing
Value: £36.5 million
Wage: £61,000 a week
Lorenzo Pellegrini may not be the most physically impressive player, but his mental and technical attributes are top notch already. He's deadly from set pieces, with 15 free-kicks, 17 corners and 13 long shots. Every top FM team needs a good corner and free-kick taker and few are better than Pellegrini.
Pellegrini already has 12 caps for Italy and is a regular in the Roma first team, after returning for £9 million a couple of seasons back. With teams such as Tottenham circling like sharks, though, Roma will struggle to hold onto the man that could be the next Daniele de Rossi.
Franck Kessie (CA 149 – PA 169)
Position(s): M (C), DM (C)
Club: AC Milan
Country: Ivory Coast
Best Attributes: 18 team work, 18 balance, 18 strength
Value: £22.5 million
Wage: £67,000 a week
Serie A has some of the best young midfielders in the world plying their trade in it and Franck Kessie is another bossing in the Italian top flight. The Ivorian is a physical beast, standing 6 feet tall and already having some of the best physical stats of any player in the game, and he's only 22!
He's already obtained 35 caps for his country and is an integral part of Les Elephants side. If he's to become a top player, though, he'll have to improve the technical side of his game, although his penalties, tackling and long shots are already good.
Nicolo Barella (CA 149 – PA 172)
Position(s): M (C), AM (C)
Club: Inter Milan (on loan from Cagliari)
Best Attributes: 17 determination, 15 tackling, 15 balance
Value: £22.5 million
Wage: £80,000 a week
Italy's national football team, like the country itself, is ageing, but Nicolo Barella is the nation's biggest hope for the future. Barella is solid across the board with technicals, mentals and physicals all consistently above 10, which is what top midfielders need to have.
He's technically on loan from Cagliari for this season, but more than likely join Inter permanently from the summer of 2020. 12 caps and three goals for the senior Italian side and 12 more appearances for Inter this season mean that the £21.5 million fee will be a bargain for the Nerazzurri!
Tanguy Ndombele (CA 145 – PA 170)
Position(s): DM, M (C)
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Best Attributes: 16 passing, 16 first touch, 16 work rate
Value: £29.5 million
Wage: £120,000 a week
Tottenham Hostpur have struggled this season so far, sacking manager Mauricio Pochettino last month. Spurs haven't invested much in the last few seasons, despite their fantastic performances in the Champions League. However, Tanguy Ndombele joined North London club for £55 million this summer.
The Lilywhites' hierarchy clearly had faith in the Frenchman to perform from the off, and while he hasn't hit the ground running, Ndombele has excellent potential in FM20.
He's not as well-rounded as some of his counterparts on this list, but he's pacey and excellent on the ball. Given his attributes, he could be suited to a roll on the wing or in a more attacking position, but this would require a lot of training to do so.
Houssem Aouar (CA 140 – PA 169)
Position(s): M (LC), AM (CL)
Best Attributes: 17 determination, 16 passing, 16 technique
Value: £9.75 million
Wage: £56,000 a week
The next Zinedine Zidane could well be Houssem Aouar of Lyon. With over 70 appearance under his belt for OL, he's gained fantastic experience at the age of just 20. Despite being just 5'9'' tall, his physical stats are great, all being 11 or higher except for jumping reach.
Where Aouar reallt shines, though, is his mental and technical sides of the game. Defensively, he's miles off the standard, but for a midfielder that's more attacking in his approach than others on this list, that won't be of much concern.
At under £10 million in estimated value, too, he represents a relatively cheap player on this list and one that's definitely obtainable.
Hamed Junior Traore (CA 136 – PA 150-180)
Position(s): DM, M (C), AM (RC)
Club: Sassuolo (on loan from Empoli)
Country: Ivory Coast
Best Attributes: 15 natural fitness, 15 off the ball, 15 work rate
Value: £9 million
Wage: £18,000 a week
Hamed Junior Traore was top of our central midfielders wonderkids list and the Ivorian finds himself included here too. The Ivory Coast is a nation that haven’t had as much success as their talented squads of the past have deserved. However, Traore could lead Les Elephants to glory in the future, already being in the under-23 squad at 19-years-old.
Traore established himself as a regular is the Empoli side last season, scoring three goals and setting up two for a relegated Serie A team. Sassuolo purchased the midfielder in a deal that will amount to almost £13 million when it becomes permanent, huge money for a side of their size. In real life, Traore has excelled for Sassuolo this season, a true work horse in the midfield that is already showing signs of becoming the next Yaya Toure.
Exequiel Palacios (CA 132 – PA 150-180)
Position(s): M (CL)
Club: River Plate
Best Attributes: 16 passing, 15 technique, 15 determination
Value: £2.9 million
Wage: £4,700 a week
In Football Manager, you often have to think outside the box to become the very best in the world. The same logic applies to player recruitment as well, as South America regularly offers bargains for young prospects.
Work permits can be difficult to attain if you aren't managing a top club in Europe, but players like Exequiel Palacious makes the effort worthwhile. Palacios has spent his entire career with River, but he's under £3 million in value at the beginning of FM20, so can probably be bought for in the region of £5 million.
Palacios' mental stats are nothing short of excellent, none are lower than 11, which is exactly what you need from a play-making midfielder. Add in the Argentine's 16 passing, 15 first touch and 15 technique and it's fair to say the 20-year-old is a top talent already.
Romario Baro (CA 128 – PA 166)
Position(s): M (C)
Club: FCP (Porto)
Best Attributes: 16 work rate, 16 natural fitness, 15 stamina
Value: £3.3 million
Wage: £3,200 a week
Although he’s not made his debut for the first team yet, Romario Baro could be the most talented player in the FC Porto ranks. His 166 potential ability would put him on a par with Bayern Munich’s Thiago, if he reaches this value.
Like a lot of players on this list, his physical and mental attributes are already high, but his technical abilities haven’t quite developed yet. A loan move would do him good, allowing Baro to play first-team football for the first time in his career, after scoring five times in 38 games for FCP II last season.
Mickael Cuisance (CA 125 – PA 157)
Position(s): DM, M (C), AM (C)
Club: Bayern Munich
Best Attributes: 16 passing, 16 technique, 16 vision
Value: £4.1 million
Wage: £41,500 a week
Bayern Munich aren’t known for producing young talents from their own academy, usually preferring to invest in players from the other Bundesliga sides. With Michael Cusiance, they’ve invested young, buying the Frenchman from Borussia Monchengladbach for around £10 million in the summer.
With a full season already under his belt at a good German top-flight side, Cusiance can perform at the top level, and has already made two appearances for the Bayern first team. If you’re looking for a midfielder to loan in, you’ll do well to get better than Cusiance, who already has key midfielder attributes at 15 or above already.
Dominik Szoboszlai (CA 121 – PA 150-180)
Position(s): M (LC), AMC
Club: RB Salzburg
Best Attributes: 15 determination, 15 pace, 14 passing
Value: £10 million
Wage: £4,100 a week
Just like their Formula 1 program, the Red Bull owned clubs scout out and nurture some of the best talent in the world. The Hungarian national team is one that hasn’t seen a resurgence since it’s golden era in the 1950s, but Dominik Szoboszlai is a superb talent aged just 18.
Szoboszlai has already been capped 8 times by Hungary, scoring once for the mighty Magyar. He's also made an impressive start to his new life in Austria, scoring twice and assisting three times already this season.
Although he’s played more often than not on the left wing, Szoboszlai’s natural position in FM is central midfield, thanks to his excellent passing and physical stats. He can also be trained to play attacking midfield one day too and can become a set-piece specialist.
All the best Young Central (MC)
|Nicolo Zaniolo||20||M/AM(C), AM (RL)||Roma||Italy||143||150-180||£18.5m||£76k|
|Declan Rice||20||M/DM (C), D(C)||West Ham||England||139||150-180||£23m||£30k|
|Exequiel Palacios||20||M (C), LM||River||Argentina||132||150-180||£2.9m||£4.7k|
|Lorenzo Pellegrini||23||DM/M/AM (C)||Roma||Italy||155||169||£36.5m||£61k|
|Franck Kessie||22||M/DM (C)||Milan||Ivory Coast||149||169||£22.5m||£67k|
|NicoloN Barella||22||M/AM (C)||Inter||Italy||149||172||£22.5m||£80k|
|Tanguy Ndombele||22||DM/M (C)||Tottenham||France||145||170||£29.5m||£120k|
|Houssem Aouar||20||M (CL), AM (CL)||OL||France||140||169||£9.75m||£56k|
|Florentino Luis||19||DM, M (C)||SLB||Portugal||140||172||£14.75m||£5k|
|Phil Foden||19||M/AM (C)||Man City||England||140||175||£34.5m||£30k|
|Mickael Cuisnace||19||DM, M/AM (C)||Bayern Munich||France||125||168||£4.1m||£41.5k|
|Gustavo Assuncao||19||DM, (C)||Famalicao||Brazil||115||155||£1.1m||£1.1k|
|Hamad Junior Traore||19||DM, M (C), AM (RC)||Sassuolo||Ivory Coast||136||150-180||£9m||£18k|
|Sandro Tonali||19||DM, M (C)||Brescia||Italy||125||150-180||£8.25m||£7.75k|
|Yari Verschaeren||18||M (C), AM (RLC)||RSC Anderlecht||Belgium||124||150-180||£6m||£5.5k|
|Dominik Szoboszlai||18||M (LC), AM (C)||RB Salzburg||Hungary||121||150-180||£10m||£4.1k|
|Sergio Gomes||18||M/AM (LC)||Borussia Dortmund||Spain||120||150-180||£2m||£6.5k|
|Eduardo Camavinga||16||DM, M (C)||Stade Rennais||France||116||150-180||£5.25m||£13.5k|
|Ryan Gravenberch||17||DM, M (C), AM (LC)||Ajax||Holland||115||150-180||£975k||£850|
|Jude Bellingham||15||M (C), AM (RLC)||Birmingham||England||112||150-180||£4.1m||£120|
|Alessio Riccardi||18||M/AM (C)||Roma||Italy||108||150-180||£500k||£15.25k|
|Ilaix Moriba||16||DM, M/AM (C)||Barcelona||Guinea||105||150-180||£500k||£11k|
|Pedri||16||M (C), AM (RLC)||Barcelona||Spain||105||150-180||£575k||£2.7k|
|Hannibal Mejbri||16||M/AM (C)||Manchester United||France||92||150-180||£350k||£120|
|Naci Unuvar||16||M (C), AM (LC)||Ajax||Holland||90||150-180||£175k||£85|