Whatever the challenge you choose in Football Manager, securing the right players is essential to building a competitive side and fulfilling the objectives of your chosen club’s hierarchy.
Many of us enjoy the challenge of working for a side with limited finances, punching above your weight against the financial behemoths of European football.
Scouting and securing bargain buys will go a long way to helping you upset the odds and we’ve decided to pick out a selection of players who most certainly prove great value for money.
These players may not develop into fully-fledged superstars of the game, but their abilities most certainly outweigh their price-tags.
Here are some of the best bargain buys for managers working on a budget:
Esteban Andrada – Boca Juniors
If you’re seeking a safe pair of hands in goal, look no further than Esteban Andrada who is currently amongst a clutch of goalkeepers competing to be Argentina’s number one.
The 29-year-old begins the game in his homeland with Boca Juniors and can be picked up for just a little more than his £3.1m valuation, a bargain purchase given he possesses marks of 16+ for aerial reach, reflexes and rushing out alongside solid scores of 15 for command of area, kicking, one on ones and throwing.
His wages of 39k p/w may be steep for those on a tight budget but he’s well worth the investment and as a goalkeeper has several years left at the peak of his powers.
Anel Ahmedhodzic – Malmo
The Swedish-born Bosnia international enjoyed a spell at Nottingham Forest in his earlier career but made just one league appearance before returning to Sweden, where he has attracted recognition for his performances to earn international honours.
Ahmedhodzic is currently playing his football at Malmo and can be picked up a the start of the game for just £3m, a steal of a price for a centre-back who can develop into a Champions League-standard player with the right guidance.
His starting attributes already include solid scores of 14 for heading, passing, tackling, concentration and pace, making him the ideal ball-playing defender to form the backbone of your side.
Eric Sviatchenko – FC Midtjylland
Sviatchenko won back-to-back league titles during a spell at Celtic before returning to first club FC Midtjylland, with his return to Denmark lowering his value greatly in FM21.
The centre-back can offer experience to any side seeking defensive additions on a budget, boasting scores of 16 for heading, aggression, bravery, leadership and natural fitness alongside a number of strong defensive stats.
With further scores of 14+ for marking, tackling, anticipation, positioning and strength, there are few better ready-made defenders who can be picked up for less than £4m.
Gustavo Assuncao – Famalicao
Brazilian football is often a hotbed of talent for avid Football Manager players and this year’s edition of the game is no different, with young midfielder Gustavo Assuncao amongst those many are tipping as a shrewd investment.
The 20-year-old is comfortable in a holding role or as a traditional central midfielder and can immediately improve your side, possessing stats of 15+ for passing, technique, composure, decisions and teamwork.
The youngster is among the more expensive players on this feature but can be signed for less than £7m, though his valuation will rocket with regular first-team football and the right training.
Move quickly, however, with Premier League clubs immediately interested.
Josue – Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Definitions of a genuine bargain can differ, but it’s hard to argue that the signing of a fully-fledged Portugal international in the prime of his career, all for less than £800k, is not a steal.
Josue is a midfielder whose preferred role is in attacking midfield and who counts the likes of Porto and Galatasaray amongst his former clubs, his value just 600K on FM21 given his current employers are Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
The 29-year-old has stats of 16+ for crossing, dribbling, first touch, passing, technique, anticipation and flair, Josue a player who could be a fine short-term solution for any lower Premier League side.
Viktor Fischer – FC Copenhagen
Once a wonderkid of previous editions of the game, Viktor Fischer made his name at Ajax and had a difficult spell at Middlesborough before returning to his native Denmark with Copenhagen.
Despite being one of his club’s biggest assets the Danish side will take little persuasion in parting with the winger, with a figure of just £2.5m more than enough to prise him away.
Fischer plays predominantly from the left but can also feature as a central striker and possesses strong attributes in a number of key areas, boasting 14+ for finishing, dribbling, pace, acceleration and work rate.
His wages of 15k p/w should offer no problems and he is a must sign for any side on a lower budget, the 26-year-old a guaranteed money-maker even if the move fails to work out.
Michael Olise – Reading
Michael Olise has won rave reviews for his performances in the Championship this season with Bayern Munich amongst the sides monitoring his progress, an exciting teenage talent with the potential to star on FM21.
Olise begins the game as a raw prospect but his stats of 15 for acceleration, agility, flair and first touch are combined with 14 for dribbling and pace, with the 18-year-old only set to improve as he matures into your save.
His £8m release clause may seem excessive given his starting stats, but it will turn into a sensible investment as he develops in future seasons.
Jonas Wind – FC Copenhagen
Finding a reliable source of goals is amongst the most crucial aspects of any manager’s ‘to do list’, and Jonas Wind can be that player for any side in the lower reaches of the top flight.
Wind begins the game at Copenhagen and the 21-year-old has a complete skillset, with scores of 14+ for a range of attributes including first touch, passing, technique, vision, composure and strength amongst others.
His scores for acceleration (10) and finishing (13) may leave a little to be desired but at less than £5m you have a player who with the right training can be a formidable physical threat with both technique and talent.
Antonio Sanabria – Real Betis
Real Betis are keen to offload the Paraguayan international at the start of your save and the Spanish side will accept less than half of the forward’s £6.5m valuation for his services.
That fee looks a snip for a player with experience of top level football and a host of strong stats, boasting scores of 14+ for dribbling, technique, finishing, acceleration and pace alongside 16 for first touch and off the ball movement.
Move quickly for Sanabria if you’re after a cheap and reliable centre-forward with some notable names circling the bargain buy from Betis.
Fedor Chalov – CSKA Moscow
Fedor Chalov has been an FM favourite for a couple of seasons now and remains a solid investment on the latest addition of the game, the Russian striker a guaranteed source of goals.
His stats may look underwhelming with just 12 for finishing and 13 for composure, but the 22-year-old’s speed (15 acceleration, 14 pace), alongside scores of 17 for determination and 16 for off the ball movement (16) will ensure he regularly gets himself into goalscoring positions.
He’ll set you back around £6m and attracts early interest from sides across Europe, but can be the player to spearhead your side towards several seasons of success.