Whether you’ve taken the helm at an oil-rich club on Football Manager 2020 or thrown you’re hat in the ring of a Sunday league dugout, chances are you’ll need signings.
Unfortunately, not every club boasts pockets deep enough to attract the very best football has to offer. So, if you’re not backed by a sovereign state like Paris Saint-Germain you can forget about the Robert Lewandowskis and Paulo Dybalas of this world.
Chances are you’ve ended up at a club where penny-pinching is the norm and you’re once again hamstrung by the balance sheets. But fear not. You’ve done this a thousand times; you’re not only a shrewd tactician on the touchline but a savvy operator in the transfer market.
To build a legacy and make your stint a success, you’ll need to form a coherent attacking unit, and arguably the fulcrum of any good frontline is the central attacking midfielder. Whether you choose to deploy you’re No. 10 as a playmaker, shadow striker or trequartista, we have an array of suitable candidates below for you to fill your boots.
So, no matter which club you’ve chosen as your next challenge, we’ve taken a look at the best CAMs for every budget; from free transfers to mega-deals, we’ve covered the lot.
Best cheap CAMs on FM20 (Under £1m)
Hatem Ben Arfa (unattached)
Every year there is always one free transfer that is an absolute must sign, and on Football Manager 2020 he comes in the form of Hatem Ben Arfa.
The 32-year-old causes quite the tug of war contest when you first load your new save, so get in there quick and offer him a handsome wage package as he has plenty of suitors vying for his signature. The former PSG midfielder boasts ridiculous stats for a freebie, notably in the technique, flair and dribbling departments. He will make a fine addition to any top-flight club, be it as a talisman for a newly-promoted side, or as an excellent squad player for a top-of-the-table team.
Pelayo Morilla (Sporting de Gijon B)
From a veteran of the game to an up-and-coming youngster, if you’re looking to build for the future then teenage sensation Morilla is the way to go.
The precocious attacker boasts exceptional stats for a No. 10 and possesses the versatility to operate in numerous positions across the frontline. He has a release clause of just £1.3m but you can sign him for under £1m if finances are particularly tight. Morilla genuinely goes on to become one of the best attacking midfielders on the game so we’re ticking two boxes here: bargain buy? Check. Wonderkid? Check. An absolute no-brainer.
Luis Gustavo (Numancia)
If you’ve perhaps taken charge of a Championship club and can’t offer the sort of wages to tempt Ben Arfa or simply don’t carry the star status to lure Morilla away from the sunny climes of Spain, then a very good option would be La Masia graduate Gustavo.
The former Barcelona midfielder didn’t quite make the grade in Catalonia, but it’s clear to see why he was once in the club’s revered youth set-up. He possesses excellent attributes for first touch, passing and technique, three quintessential Barca traits. So, if you need a bit of creativity, flair and panache but can’t afford someone of Bruno Fernandes’ ilk, then his compatriot Gustavo is a competent alternative.
Best lower mid-range CAMs for FM20 (£1m-£10m)
Thiago Almada (Velez Sarsfield)
Arguably this year’s go-to wonderkid. Almada transforms into an absolute beast and goes on to become one of the best attacking mids on the game — and he can be secured for a snip.
The Argentine already has plenty of YouTube highlight reels dedicated to his flashy skills and boisterous showboating. He has been courted by the likes of Pep Guardiola in real life, so whatever you do, make sure you sign this talented tyro. Such is his ability that you can even throw him into the mix straight away.
Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Although Almada can be utilised from the off, he is still only 17, so if you want a more experienced option while also keeping one eye on the future, then Kovalenko would make for tidy business.
The Ukrainian is a solid all-round attacking midfielder and can even drop back in a box-to-box or mezzala role if needs be. If you’re managing in the Premier League and need runners, then the 23-year-old ticks all the boxes to make a seamless transition, with strong attributes for work rate, determination, bravery and stamina. He won’t cost you an arm and a leg and can develop into a top player if handled accordingly.
Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate)
Quintero was once tipped to make it at the very top of the game but now finds himself in and out of a very talented River Plate side.
The Colombian is one of those mercurial marvels who looks a world beater one day but anonymous the next. His potential is boundless such is his undoubted talent but at 27 years old, time is certainly running out for him to make it at the very peak of football. He has a Copa Libertadores under his belt but undoubtedly has unfinished business in Europe. You can sign him for under £10m, and really, you should. Just look at his attributes.
Best upper mid-range CAMs (£10m-£20m)
Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United)
Stateside exports are becoming more commonplace, just look at Newcastle and Miguel Almiron, but the Paraguayan’s former teammate is arguably a far more attractive option.
The diminutive Argentine is brimming with creativity and boasts a repertoire replete with attacking flair. At just 20, you’ll be signing a player who can come straight into your starting XI, adding some of that good old South American silk, while also building for the seasons ahead. He can be signed for just shy of £20m, but that figure will double, even triple in the years to come, such is his current ability and unrestrained potential.
Want a ready-made Brazilian ace but don’t want to fork out a gargantuan fee to sign him? Luan is your man.
The Brazil international has a £17.25m release clause for foreign clubs so if you’re not in charge of a Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A side then you should definitely consider Luan as an option to boost your attacking ranks. This Paulistano has simply outrageous stats for an attacking midfielder and has the ability to slot in seamlessly to any attacking role.
Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb)
The now-RB Leipzig player is not only one of the best youngsters on the game, but he is already one of the best attacking midfielders. Not making Olmo part of your squad for less than £20m should be a criminal offence. Well, maybe not that far, but you get the picture.
Another La Masia graduate, Olmo took the unconventional route of relocating to Croatia in an effort to hone his craft, but his brave decision has paid dividends as he has attracted the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs and earned a move to the Bundesliga last month. But, this is Football Manager and the winter update isn’t out yet, so for the time being, keep signing the Spain international and continue turning him into a world-class playmaker.
Expensive (£20m and above)
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
Okay, now we’re getting into the crazy money so look away middling clubs and those below the top tier.
A few years ago it would have cost you over £100m to sign Colombian galactico Rodriguez, but the attacking midfielder is not particularly rated by Zinedine Zidane and begins the game on the transfer list. His asking price is £42.5m, which isn’t actually half bad when you consider some of the fees flying around these days. Put it this way, both Newcastle and West Ham paid a similar price for Joelinton and Sebastien Haller respectively and neither player has set the Premier League alight.
Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad)
If you want a younger option to Rodriguez but still want the flair and zest that comes with the Colombian then Oyarzabal would make for a fine addition to your side, though he won’t come cheap.
He has a staggering £65m release clause, but look, if you want top quality then you have to pay top dollar these days. If you’re in charge of Man City and want a long-term David Silva successor then Oyarzabal’s your man; if you’re at Barca and want to quickly alleviate the void of Philippe Coutinho, Oyarzabal’s your man; or if, somehow, you convince Daniel Levy to sanction funds of up to £65m and can’t convince Christian Eriksen to commit to a long-term Spurs contract, then once again, Oyarzabal’s your man.
Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
Few on the game genuinely transition from elite-level footballer to absolute world-class phenomenon, but Aouar does.
He’ll likely take up most, if not all of your transfer kitty, but my word is he worth the investment. If you followed our recent Football Manager article, Squawka’s ultimate U-21 XI take on Europe’s elite, then you will know just how good the Frenchman is now and goes on to become. We’re talking serious God tier here.