Every new head coach faces the same dilemma on Football Manager 2020. Who to sign?
Whether you’ve pitched up at the hallowed Bernabeu turf or opted for the humble abode of any Championship outfit, you’ll need fresh recruits to spruce things up.
And top of your shopping list will be a full-back, right? Let’s face it, those buccaneering defenders are all the rage at the minute. Where would Jurgen Klopp be without Trent Alexander-Arnold? Or Barcelona without Jordi Alba?
Indeed, full-backs have been en vogue this century and are essential to modern tactics, whether that’s tiki-taka, gegenpressing or sarrismo, those unrelenting engines have given unprecedented vibrancy to the bylines.
So, whether your pockets are far-reaching or sewn shut you’ll need full-backs, and we’ve got a handful for every budget.
FM20 best full backs to sign for under £1m
Martin Olsson (unattached)
Where else to kick things off than with a freebie, and this one comes in the form of Martin Olsson.
The Sweden international has forged a pretty reputable career on these shores, donning the shirts of Blackburn Rovers, Norwich City and Swansea City. The attacking left-back has played for each club in the Premier League over the years but now finds himself without a club. If you’re in charge of a Championship outfit he would slot seamlessly into your side, or if you’re just looking for a bit of depth in the Premier League, he certainly won’t cost you a king’s ransom.
Mehdi Zeffane (unattached)
Free transfer number two. The former Lyon and Rennes right-back is another perfect candidate for any second tier side or lower top division club.
The Algeria international featured 20 times in Ligue 1 last season and was part of his nation’s Afcon win in the summer. To put it bluntly, Zeffane comes with experience and pedigree. And at just 27, he has plenty of years left in him; so if you’re pushing for promotion from the Championship, Segunda Division or maybe even Serie B, Zeffane’s signature would make for astute business.
Fabio Coentrao (unattached)
Completing our freebie trident is ex-Real Madrid defender Coentrao. Look, when FM offers this much unattached talent, why bother looking elsewhere?
The Portuguese left-back was destined for stardom upon signing for Los Blancos in 2011. The path from Benfica to Europe’s elite is well-trodden, but Coentrao wasn’t quite able to transform into the world class talent many were hoping. That said, he is still an exceptional full-back – he was named in the Euro 2012 team of the tournament – and would revolutionise any touchline for a top-flight club. Be it as the defensive talisman for a middling team, or simply for depth in the upper reaches.
FM20 best full backs to sign for £1m-£10m
Kevin Malcuit (Napoli)
There are always one or two top players listed on the transfer market that won’t blow your entire budget but are truly top class, and Malcuit is one of those.
Unfavored at Napoli, the Frenchman can be picked up for under £10, which is perfect for any top-flight side, and boasts the requisite stats of a modern full-back. His crossing and dribbling stand at an outrageous 16 and 15 respectively, while his physical attributes are second to none. He is a complete wing-back in every sense, while his 14 for tackling means you’re also getting a defensively competent player.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (Angers SCO)
Moving on to a few cheap wonderkids, Ain-Nouri is arguably the hottest prospect in the full-back department on FM 20 and should not to be sniffed at.
The teenage left-back can be picked up for a pittance by today’s market and already possesses traits that far exceed his age. Like Malcuit, he boasts strong crossing, dribbling and tackling attributes, as well as competent physical stats, and those will only grow precipitously under the right guidance. Nurture him accordingly and you’ll have one of the best full-backs on the game one day.
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
He’s already burst onto the scene with Ajax this season but you can get ahead of the curve and prise him away from Amsterdam for less than £10m.
The American is the latest precocious talent to emerge from Ajax’s much-feted academy and is well-equipped to already turn out for any top-flight side, such is the quality he possesses. Of the three in this lower mid-range category, Dest should always be signed first as he is already an absolute beast, but goes on to reach true world class heights.
FM20 best full backs to sign for £10m-£20m
Sergio Escudero (Sevilla)
Moving up a gear now and let’s try to utilise a few release clauses. Of course, there is only one place to start there: La Liga.
Incredibly, you can trigger Escudero’s release clause for just £13m, which is a bargain to say the least. The experienced Spaniard has incredible stamina and an excellent all-round game. He will invigorate your flanks and can operate in a number of roles at the back, such is his defensive versatility.
Dodo (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Some exceptional Brazilians have emerged from Ukraine, Willian and Fernandinho to name but two, and the latest on that glittering production line is Dodo.
The young Brazilian boasts a five-star potential ability and is definitely not shy to venture up the pitch. Few are more skilled in the complete wing-back role, but that is Dodo’s natural game; put it this way, he is more comfortable in the opposition half than his own with 15 dribbling and 14 technique. His defensive ability will need fine-tuning but in the right hands he can follow in the path of great Brazilian full-backs of old.
From one Brazilian to another, we’re moving away from Selecao youth to a more experienced South American.
Fagner was one of only three Brazilians to make Tite’s 2018 World Cup squad playing for a club in his homeland, such is his ability. He’s previously turned out for PSV and Wolfsburg but failed to significantly impress in Europe and has plied most of his career in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A. Now is your chance to give him another bite of the cherry, and his acquisition will certainly be worth it. He genuinely has some outrageous stats including 18 aggression, 16 work rate and 17 agility and will make for a top class signing.
FM20 best full backs to sign for £20m and above
Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow)
If you’re in need of a right-back and have £20m in the bank, spend it all on Fernandes, you won’t regret it.
The Brazil-born Russian has been a near ever-present in Moscow since relocating to the Russian capital from Gremio in 2012, and he has the required ability to play for any leading European club. And it certainly won’t require the entire transfer kitty being couriered to the Luzhniki Stadium.
Hugo Mallo (Celta Vigo)
If you recently read our article on footballers you probably didn’t realise played for Celta Vigo, then you’ll know just how good the talent is at the Abanca-Balaidos.
Mallo is another of those star-studded names. He is a one-club man having never left Celta during his playing career, but at 28 perhaps now is the time to venture into more extreme conditions, possibly even the Champions League terrain. He is a tackling virtuoso and can play comfortably at centre-back if needs be, while his mental attributes are head and shoulders above anyone on this list and he can attack in the final third. In that regard, Mallo is the complete right-back.
Moussa Wague (Barcelona)
This is the one that will really set you back, but if you have £40m lying around then go all out for Wague.
The Barcelona full-back is an incredible talent, combining brains and brawn to push forward and help his frontline, while also retreating when necessary to carry out his defensive duties. Barca would be mad to sell Wague, but you can get your hands on him for around half his release clause if you have the available funds at your disposal.
FM 20 best full backs to sign – for every budget
- Dodo (Shakhtar Donetsk)
- Martin Olsson (unattached)
- Rayan Ait-Nouri (Angers SCO)
- Sergino Dest (Ajax)
- Mehdi Zeffane (unattached)
- Sergio Escudero (Sevilla)
- Moussa Wague (Barcelona)
- Fabio Coentrao (unattached)
- Kevin Malcuit (Napoli)
- Fagner (Corinthians)
- Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow)
- Hugo Mallo (Celta Vigo)