10 of the best wonderkids on Football Manager 20: Haaland, Aarons, Tonali…

Quick Reads
Erling Haaland

Football Manager 2020 is here – and as always we’ve been scouring the game’s database to find the best wonderkids to buy.

The likes of Kylian Mbappe or Matthijs de Ligt aren’t featured here; you know about them already, and unless you’re managing a super-club you won’t be able to buy them anyway.

Instead we’ve focused on reasonably priced teenagers playing for small enough clubs who just might, if you’re persuasive enough, buy into whatever project you’re starting.

And signing wonderkids is a must, by the way. For anyone new to the game, buying young players is undoubtedly the best way to turn a middling club into an elite one; it’s the simplest route to money-ball football.

For the uninitiated: you won’t believe how quickly these stats go up within a year or two of the game’s start date, although it’s worth noting their statistics do vary slightly from save to save.

Erling Haaland (ST)

The Salzburg striker’s rise to fame has been too quick to dramatically alter his reputation or value on FM20, meaning Haaland can be prised away from Germany.

He begins with at least 16 in many crucial stats for a striker, including ‘finishing’, ‘off the ball’, ‘pace’, and ‘strength’, and although all four of these only have the potential to rise to about 18, his all-round game catches up.

He is the sort of ‘advanced forward’ we usually only see in regens – the preposterous goalscoring type. Valued at £5.1million, it will take around four times that to buy him. And he’s an absolute bargain at that.

Thiago Almada (AMC)

The 18-year-old Velez starlet is only priced at £2million, primarily because he isn’t yet on the radar of most European clubs, but he should be. Almada won’t walk straight into your first team, but within a year he should have ‘teamwork’, ‘flair’, ‘vision’, and ‘technique’ stats of at least 17.

Almada is a classic luxury playmaker, meaning he won’t fit every manager’s style of play, but if you can afford someone without bravery, strength, or leadership then his creative talents will become vital. Current wages of £3.4k per week make him an easy get.

Nehuen Perez (CB)

On loan at Famalicao from Atletico Madrid, it won’t be long before this commanding centre-back becomes a regular for Diego Simeone.

However, Football Manager tends to offer opportunities to sign on-loan players relatively quickly, and we have found that a couple of loan deals for Perez is enough for him to see your club as home.

Perez isn’t one for possession-centric clubs, rather a no-nonsense defender who will head anything and clear everything. His ‘technique’ and ‘first touch’ are both 10, counterbalanced by ‘aggression’ and ‘bravery’ both at 16 or above.

Dayot Upamecano (CB)

Manchester United and Tottenham are reportedly interested in the young French centre-back making waves at RB Leipzig, which is why it’s surprising he can be purchased for a reasonable cost of about £25million on FM 20.

Upamecano’s physical stats are excellent at the beginning of the game, and his defensive ones – beginning at 12 or 13 – grow significantly within 12 months of the start.

He is one player to snap up immediately because by 2020 the likes of Real Madrid will start sniffing around.

Max Aarons (RB)

The most surprising inclusion on this year’s list is Max Aarons, a Norwich City right-back who hasn’t made much of a mark in the Premier League just yet – but who Sports Interactive believe to be one of the best right-backs of his generation.

Aarons is pretty committed to the cause in Norfolk and, at £17million, can’t be signed immediately, but if Norwich are relegated in year one then he quickly becomes available.

Experienced FM players only need to glance at his numbers to know: this is an all-rounder right-back who won’t let you down.

Sandro Tonali (DMC)

This is the third year in a row Tonali has appeared as one of the hottest midfielders on the game, and after a slight dip in expected ability in FM19 the 19-year-old Brescia player is back up there with the best. That’s probably thanks to an impressive debut season in Serie B and his raised profile following Brescia’s promotion.

Tonali’s mental stats are almost all 16 or above by the time he is in his early 20s, which coupled with strong ‘technique’ and ‘passing’ stats make him a brilliant modern defensive midfielder.

Like Aarons, it’s worth waiting for Brescia to go down before testing the waters.

Romario Baro (MC)

A very similar player to Tonali but valued at half the price, Baro makes a fine central midfielder on FM20. He is yet to break into the first team at Porto, playing just three times this season, and that should make him easy to take away from Portugal – although he will need at least two years before he’s ready to start regularly.

The one problem with Baro is that he lacks strength, leadership and heading ability, and so he cannot be converted into a robust defensive midfielder like Tonali. However, wages of £3.2k make him more readily available.

Yari Verschaeren (AMC)

The next big player to come off the production line at Anderlecht, Verschaeren will almost certainly be a big star and has already won his first caps and scored his first goal for Belgium.

FM20 have taken note, and Verschaeren is already valued at £6million thanks to his ‘first touch’ (16), ‘agility’ (17), and ‘vision’ (15). This is an unusually mazy player for the No.10 role, in many respects similar to the attacking directness of former Anderlecht midfielder Youri Tielemans. He’s a little overpriced, but definitely worth signing.

Amine Gouiri (ST)

Lyon’s 19-year-old striker isn’t well known around Europe but it’s only a matter of time. Gouiri has everything needed to become one of the game’s best complete forwards, from ‘technique’ and ‘work rate’ to ‘finishing’ and ‘pace’.

Most of these start at around 13, meaning he is something of a late bloomer, but valued at £1.5million it’s worth buying him immediately and then gradually introducing the Frenchman to the first team.

Alban Lafont (GK)

Aside from Gianluigi Donnarumma there aren’t many young goalkeepers on FM20 that are worth trying to build a team around, but Fiorentina’s 20-year-old shot-stopper can certainly do a job for a midtable Premier League team.

On loan at Nantes, however, you’ll need patience to get your hands on Lafont.

His basic goalkeeping stats are particularly strong, even if Lafont is lacking a bit on the mental side of the game. His ‘agility’, ‘reflexes’, ‘handling’, ‘aerial reach’, and ‘one on ones’ all grow to at least 16.

By Alex Keble

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