“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
Sir Alex Ferguson certainly knew what he was talking about. The Manchester United great understood that to win a title you needed, first and foremost, a solid and resilient backline. The same can be said when playing Football Manager.
Football Manager 2018 has been out for a few months, but if it landed in your Christmas stocking, you may be on the look for some help in who to add to your transfer shortlist.
Accompanying the arrival of the franchise’s latest instalment are always a host of articles detailing the top 50 wonderkids you need to look out for.
Scouting the sheer number of players can overwhelming and narrowing it down to a select few is stressful. With this in mind, we’ve looked to shorten these lists down. In this particular article we’ve taken a look at defenders you definitely want in your squad this time around.
We’ve ticked off attackers, given you the lowdown on the midfielders to keep an eye on and now we’ve assembled a list of talented defenders who vary in price in an attempt to give managers the best opportunity of snagging at least one of them, even if you aren’t at the helm of one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Matthijs De Ligt
He may only be 17 years old when the game starts, but de Ligt is one of the must have players on this year’s game.
However, he is attainable. For just £16million, plus a few creative add-ons, you can have one of the most highly rated players on the game and you’ll be set at centre-back for the next decade at the very minimum.
Fiorentina have a knack for identifying Eastern European centre-backs and developing them. They did it with Matija Nastasić who earned a big money move to Manchester City before settling at Schalke and Stefan Savić, whose form in Florence earned him a move to Atletico Madrid to be a key part of Diego Simeone’s defensive unit.
The 19-year-old us somewhat of a blank canvas and can be moulded into the centre-back ideally suited to your defence.
A bid of between £15-20million should be enough to snare him but it might be best to leave him in Serie A for a season, he’d be better for the experience.
The first of two full-backs on the list, Dalot has the potential to be one of the breakout stars of the game.
The majority of formations and systems now hinge on having a full-back in your starting XI who is comfortable in possession and able to offer a threat down the flank – the 18-year-old does just that.
Persist with him and you’ll have yourself an underrated star, a player so effortlessly effective that your team just doesn’t feel right when he’s not starting.
Pellegrini, once named as a Liverpool transfer target, is another underrated gem on the Football Manager 2018.
Being Italian he’s got the whole ‘being good defensively’ trait nailed to a T. As you can see from his early stats he excels at marking, concentrations and natural fitness.
Errors with him playing as the left-back for your team will be limited and for around the £10million mark he’s a snip.
This one requires you to get a little creative. Ndidi starts the game knowing how to play centre-midfield and defensive midfield.
However, with a little bit of training he’s more than capable of playing at centre-back. Furthermore, he’s got the traits to excel there.
If you like giving yourself a project on the game, and don’t mind parting with £40million for a player, then Ndidi is the ideal signing for you.
Over the summer transfer window, Chelsea failed to put their status as Premier League champions to good use. A host of players turned down the chance to move to Stamford Bridge and Gnagnon was one of them.
The 20-year-old citied fear over potential playing time as a reason for turning a move down at this stage of his career, so that’s something to keep in mind if you make an approach for the powerhouse centre-back on Football Manager.
A bid in the region of £10million with add-ons is enough to get Rennes to part with the Ivorian. Making him a key part of your defensive set-up would be a shrewd move if you’re a long-term thinker.
The Red Bull clubs have one of the best scouting systems in the world in place. They bring the players into Red Bull Salzburg to cut their teeth before moving them on to RB Leipzig knowing if they impress in the Bundesliga they’re likely to make more of a profit on them when they’re sold.
Naby Keïta made the move and spent one season with the German club before Liverpool spent an entire summer trying to bring him to Merseyside. They should brace themselves for similar with Upamecano.
The 18-year-old Frenchman has already been named as a transfer target for the Reds as well as Barcelona and Manchester City. Competition for his signature on the game isn’t quite as fierce but it will take an offer around the £30million mark with add-ons on top of that to convince the Bundesliga outfit to sell their star centre-back.
If you’re in charge of a team regularly playing in the Champions League and have money to burn then Vallejo is the man for you. The 20-year-old may only be valued at £5million but Real Madrid will be reluctant to part with the man tipped to be the future of the club.
If you do manage to pry him away from the Spanish capital then you have one of the best defenders on the game in your hands and you should make the effort to ensure he develops into the player many expect him to be.