Football Manager 2020: Niche player roles explained and how to use them correctly

By Ben Green

Published: 13:05, 15 April 2020

Picking the correct roles for your starting XI can be a challenging prospect on Football Manager.

The array of options for each individual position can give even the most experienced of virtual managers a touchline headache.

Getting your tactics spot on is not only key for excelling on the pitch, but also imperative for developing your players.

As such, you may find roles like ‘raumdeuter’, ‘libero’ and ‘enganche’ unnerving and too risky to experiment with, instead opting for the safe and familiar options.

But, that cautious approach could be hampering the true potential of your squad. Instead of shoehorning players into roles you’re comfortable with, perhaps now is the time to experiment and take your pixelated repertoire to an entirely new level.

With that, we’ve put together a guide that should help you understand some of the more niche roles on Football Manager 2020 and how to use them correctly.


The Carrilero — or ‘shuttler’ — is quite literally a less glamorous box-to-box midfielder. Their predominant focus is to spread the play laterally rather than surging up the pitch like a traditional No. 8. Where a box-to-box midfielder will look to push forward and aid in attacking moves, the Carrilero will refrain from becoming too involved in the final third, instead breaking up opposition attacks, driving the team forward — to an extent — and ultimately picking the safer ball, usually out wide.

The Carrilero is often the conduit between defence and attack, but will not just park in front of the backline, instead drifting across the pitch and covering the full-back areas when their defensive counterparts push high up the pitch. In that sense a Carrilero must be energetic, industrious and versatile.

In terms of formation, the Carrilero works best in a narrow set-up, usually in a 4-4-2 diamond or an iteration of a 4-3-1-2. As they are tasked with protecting the midfield space between the attack and defence, it often works best to deploy two Carrileros alongside each other for maximum efficiency (as detailed below).

As this is a specialised role centred on high energy and a sophisticated positional understanding, the attributes to look out for are anticipation, off the ball, work rate and tackling.

Key players: N’Golo Kante, Eric Dier, Allan, Wilfred Ndidi, Rodri, Kalvin Phillips


These days the libero role is often confined to football nostalgia and is almost synonymous with players like Franz Beckenbauer and Ronald Koeman. But the highly fluid position can be used to great, almost devastating, effect on Football Manager if utilised correctly.

The libero is essentially the last line of defence when out of possession, playing between the centre-backs and the goalkeeper, looking to sweep up any loose balls and stifle opposition attacks. What makes the role so unique, however, is that when possession has been won, the libero has license to push forward and slot into the midfield, even going as far as to contribute in attacking phases of play.

Naturally a libero must have excellent levels of fitness to cover so much ground. They must also be defensively competent to snuffle out danger and anticipate threatening balls over the top, but also technically adept if they are to operate in midfield and even pose a threat in the final third.

As the role requires fluid movement depending on the in-game scenario, it is best to deploy a libero centrally as part of a back-three. It may be worth setting their role to ‘attack’ so they naturally push up and become more involved in attacking transitions.

Key players: Kalidou Koulibaly, Mats Hummels, Milan Skriniar, Edson Alvarez, Virgil van Dijk

Segundo Volante

Just like Claude Makelele’s name entered the football vernacular after he perfected his role at the base of a midfield three, so too did Carlos Volante’s name become synonymous with a midfield function: Segundo Volante.

The role itself, although positioned in the defensive midfield slot, carries attacking connotations. Volante’s unique skillset — during the 1930s with the likes of Napoli, Rennes and Torino — allowed him to operate effectively as an attacking outlet in the defensive midfield role.

This unique function is best accentuated when played with two defensive midfielders. Partnering a Segundo Volante alongside a ball-winning midfielder or anchorman means you have an ideal marriage between positional stability and the two key elements of play: both attacking from the former and defensively from the latter.

When assigning one of your players the role of a Segundo Volante, you are effectually asking him to do a bit of everything, so once again, versatility is essential here. A modern-day example of a Segundo Volante would be Emre Can, a player who is largely seen as a defence-minded midfielder, but will continuously be found in attacking positions throughout any given match.

Key players: Saul, Emre Can, Tanguy Ndombele, Danilo Pereira, Leander Dendoncker, Marcos Llorente, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Bryan Cristante, Charles Aranguiz, Franck Kessie, Remo Freuler, Leandro Paredes, Matias Vecino, Philip Billing


The word Raumdeuter was coined in a football sense by Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller to describe his unique attacking role. The word essentially translates to “space investigator”, and is best used to define the German’s effective role when exploiting the half space.

A Raumdeuter’s main function is to drift infield and find pockets of space in which to thrive. When deploying any wide player as a Raumdeuter you are essentially instructing them to cut inside and exploit the channel, rather than staying out wide and stretching the pitch.

What makes Muller’s role different to say an inside forward is that he will look to cut in and create space before the ball has found his path, whereas as inside forward will always collect the ball out wide, hug the touchline and then cut in before wreaking havoc.

In this sense a Raumdeuter is something of a winger-cum-poacher, in that his main job is to locate dangerous areas of the pitch first, and then let his football do the talking, but only once the ball has been received, not the other way around. As such, the role is both positional and functional.

The Raumdeuter is not overly concerned with defensive matters, and will often drift in and out of matches, so it’s best to have a solid foundation behind him. He will also be producing a large portion of the goals, so avoid overloading your frontline.

Key players: Thomas Muller, Alexis Sanchez, Inaki Williams, Iago Aspas, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Moussa Marega


The Enganche, or classic No. 10, is another throwback position that has effectively been phased out of the modern game. The reason for this is twofold. First, the high-press has become such a popular facet among modern tacticians, that the space in which the Enganche once flourished is no longer as open, instead the gap between midfield and defence has become compressed and overcrowded. And two, the philosophy of collective pressing has become so entrenched in modern set-ups, that the individualism of an Enganche can no longer flourish, instead each player is required to put in the hard yards in one way or another.

And like most roles on this list, the Enganche can be best defined in terms of a specific player, in this case Juan Roman Riquelme: the archetypal No. 10.

The Enganche is, in essence, a stationary trequartista, collecting the ball in a fixed position before making quick, decisive and cutthroat decisions. A trequartista will float and collect the ball in various positions across the frontline, looking to find the ball, while the Enganche will operate predominantly ‘in the hole’.

What’s more, the Enganche will not make driving runs into the box, he is your creative catalyst after all, so that’s exactly what he’ll do: create. As such, your best bet it to ensure that at least one or two of your midfielders are making those penetrative runs into opposition territory, otherwise your Enganche will have no one to slip in.

To successfully utilise an Enganche you need to take the spotlight off him and stretch the opposition defence so he has space in which to operate. For this we recommend playing two strikers up front, and deploying a midfield three behind him in a classic 4-3-1-2 formation.

The front two will provide your Enganche plenty of options while also keeping the opposition defence occupied, and the central midfield trident will provide protection further back and extra support when in possession.

Key players: Isco, Mesut Ozil, James Rodriguez, David Silva, Juan Mata, Adam Lallana, Dimitri Payet