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Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

By Ben Green

Published: 19:51, 16 February 2020 | Updated: 12:47, 20 March 2020

Whether you’ve chosen to take charge at the Camp Nou or Kingsmeadow on Football Manager 2020, recruiting fresh talent will probably be priority No. 1 on your to-do list.

Once pleasantries have been exchanged with your new chairman and you’ve gotten through the somewhat monotonous routine of press conferences and meeting your new players, then the fun can really begin as you hit transfer mode and scour the market for hidden gems, reliable recruits and big-money moves.

But, what is your first port of call? Well, arguably you’ll be looking for a central midfielder, someone to bring industry, dynamism and ingenuity to your side. The central midfield is oft look upon as the most influential part of any side: the nucleus if you will.

Often referred to as the engine room, great sides from Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona to Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have prioritised assembling a central midfield stacked with passing excellence, defensive intelligence and positional sophistication.

So, whether you’ve taken the reins in League One or Ligue 1 you’ll need to bolster the middle of the park, and we’ve got a central midfielder suited for every budget….

FM20 best cheap CMs to sign for under £1m

Lucas Silva (unattached)

Remember when Lucas Silva was once hailed “the future” of Real Madrid by Carlo Ancelotti? Well, he’s now a free agent.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

The 26-year-old saw his Los Blancos contract terminated by mutual consent in September, meaning he is now free to pick up, and we highly recommend that you do. Silva boasts some outrageous stats for a freebie including exceptional passing, tackling and long shots. He is, for all intents and purposes, a freakishly good all-round midfielder, making this signing an absolute no-brainer.

Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)

Lewis Ferguson is valued at £1m upon starting up a new save, but if financial constraints are particularly tight, then you can pick up the teenage whizkid for less than a six-figure sum thanks to that good ‘ol additional clause: “Percentage of Next Sale”.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

The young Scot is an archetypal box-to-box midfielder and, like Silva, possesses a good all-round game, with an enticing composition of solid technical, mental and physical attributes. He can be developed into a leading midfielder under the right tuition but even if things don’t work out, you paid less than a million for him so it’s water off a duck’s back if he flops.

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

Remember Bradley’s stint in the Premier League with Aston Villa? No, neither do we, as he made just three appearances in 2011. But his Villa Park sojourn aside, the Princeton-born midfielder enjoyed quite the impressive career across Europe, and is still only 31 on the game.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

Now back in MLS, Bradley currently plies his trade with Toronto FC but can be approached to sign upon loading up your new save. His contract expires at the end of December so you can pick him up on a free transfer in January. Cheers, Jean-Marc Bosman! The 150-capped USA international is a hard-hitting, ball winning midfielder, and can seriously beef up any top-flight side.

FM20 best CMs to sign for £1m-£10m

Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy)

Possibly the best signing you’ll make on Football Manager 2020 if you’ve decided to pitch up at a middling top-flight club.

Jonathan is the second half of the Dos Santos brothers, with both siblings – particularly Giovani – tipped for greatness upon their initial emergence from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. Neither quite hit the heights in Catalonia, but Jonathan enjoyed success in La Liga with Villarreal and now finds himself stateside with LA Galaxy. He can be picked up for around £2m and packs a lot of quality. If you’re a West Ham, Southampton or a newly-promoted club for example, this is a perfect signing.

Ronaldo Vieira (Sampdoria)

Unburdened by the weight of his name, Vieira has been making considerable strides since leaving Leeds and can be acquired for less than £10m.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

The England Under-21 international is well-equipped to handle the testing Premier League tempo and is able to pick a pass, as well as shield the backline. Nominally a deep-lying playmaker, Vieira has the versatility to take up numerous midfield roles if required.

Exequiel Palacios (River Plate)

A Copa Libertadores winner, the Argentina international packs unbelievable potential and his acquisition won’t break the bank either.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

He’s wanted in the Far East so get in there quick before the riches of China tempt him. He’s only 20 on the game but already possesses world-class stats for passing, technique and first touch. If provided the right platform to develop he will become one of the best deep-lying playmakers out there.

FM20 best CMs to sign for £10m-£20m

Dominik Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg)

The Red Bull Arena has been a fervent breeding ground for rich talent in recent times and the latest off that esteemed production line is Dominik Szoboszlai.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

If you only have £15m in the bank then spend it all on this teenage phenom as you will more than quadruple that sum in just a few years. He is fully adept in either a mezzala or deep-lying playmaker role and boasts strong physical attributes, as well as key midfield stats for passing, technique and first touch. He is destined for a super-club one day so if you’re managing a middling club get ahead of the curve and build your side around him.

Bruno Guimaraes (Athletico Paranaense)

If you had one word to describe Bruno Guimaraes it would be: wow! The Rio de Janeiro-born footballer is a game-changer and should always be signed if your budget is big enough.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

He packs the pedigree of a fully-fledged Brazilian maestro, but he won’t cost you an exorbitant fee to acquire. None of his attributes drop into single figures and he will be just 21 when you start your new save. He is perhaps this year’s must-buy but you don’t have long as the winter update is fast approaching and Lyon have since signed him.

Jude Bellingham (Birmingham City)

A teenager who needs no introduction, but we’re going to give him one anyway because he’s that good. At just 16, Bellingham is a starter for Birmingham in the unforgiving terrain of the Championship and is alerting the attention of Europe’s elite.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

Figures in the region of £30m have been touted for the wunderkind’s signature in real life but you get tempt him away from St Andrew’s for half that fee. In just a few seasons Bellingham will be England’s most important player and your talisman. Over £10m may seem a steep investment for a player so young, but you will reap the rewards further down the line.

FM20 best CMs to sign for £20m and above

Sandro Tonali (Brescia)

On FM19 Tonali brought back fond memories of the days when you could sign Marco Verratti for a pittance at Pescara all those years ago. However, like Verratti, you now need to reach deep into your pockets to sign him, such is his rapid development and rise to prominence.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

Garlanded as the ‘new Andrea Pirlo’, Tonali possesses a similar playing style – and hairstyle for that matter – as the Italian legend. In that regard he is the perfect midfield playmaker, able to comfortably play just in front of the backline or as part of a double pivot. Tonali has an exceptional passing range and composure on the ball, and that only gets better with time. Pirlo 2.0? Yes please. 

Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)

No Football Manager ‘best players’ list would be complete without an Ajax youngster, and Gravenberch is the latest to emerge from the Amsterdammer’s illustrious academy.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

He won’t come cheap, given Ajax’s staunch unwillingness to listen to offers, but wave the right amount of dosh in front of Marc Overmars and he will eventually succumb to the temptation of those vast riches. We are genuinely talking about one of the game’s best wonderkids here so he won’t come cheap but that certainly won’t matter when he’s in his prime, dictating every game and you have 72 missed calls from a certain Florentino Perez.

Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin)

Maier completes our trident of expensive wonderkids. The German midfielder is another like Tonali and Gravenberch who will go on to reach a world-class level and will probably be snapped up by Bayern Munich at some point – such is their policy of plundering their closest rivals.

Football Manager 2020: Best CMs to sign for every budget

He boasts attributes that far exceed his young age, including an excellent passing range, strong mental qualities and quite the engine. No matter which club you’re in charge of Maier can slot straight into your XI and will stay there for the next 15 years.

FM 20 best CMs (centre midfielders) to sign – for every budget

  • Lucas Silva (unattached)
  • Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)
  • Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
  • Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
  • Ronaldo Vieira (Sampdoria)
  • Exequiel Palacios (River Plate)
  • Dominik Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg)
  • Bruno Guimaraes (Athletico Paranaense)
  • Jude Bellingham (Birmingham City)
  • Sandro Tonali (Brescia)
  • Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)
  • Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin)

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